NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
NASCAR - Sprint Cup - Aaron's 499 Preview

From The Sports Network

 
DATE: Sunday, May 6th
SITE: Talladega Superspeedway (1969) -- Talladega, Alabama
TRACK: 2.66-mile oval - 4,300 feet (Frontstretch); 4,000 feet (Backstretch)
CAPACITY: 143,231 (Grandstand Seating)
ANNUAL: 43rd
TELEVISION: FOX
ANNOUNCERS: Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds
RADIO: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio
START TIME: 1 p.m. (ET)/Green Flag: 1:19 p.m. (ET)
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Jimmie Johnson
RUNNER-UP: Clint Bowyer
POLE WINNER: Jeff Gordon (Finished 3rd)
LAPS: 188
MILES: 500
QUALIFYING RECORD: Bill Elliott, 1987 (212.809 m.p.h.)
RACE RECORD: Mark Martin, 1997 (188.354 m.p.h.)
TOTAL PURSE: $5,944,315 (2011 figures)
PAYOUTS: 1st Place - $329,386; 2nd Place - $269,058; 3rd Place - $210,686
 
2011 Finish
FinishDriverStartFinishDriverStart
1Jimmie Johnson26Carl Edwards20
2Clint Bowyer107Greg Biffle17
3Jeff Gordon18Mark Martin3
4Dale Earnhardt Jr.49David Gilliland39
5Kevin Harvick3810Joey Logano36
2011 Aaron's 499 Facts and Figures
AVERAGE SPEED: 156.261 m.p.h.
TIME OF RACE: 3 hours, 12 minutes, 1 second
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.002 second
CAUTION FLAGS: 6 for 24 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 88 among 26 drivers
POLE WINNER: Jeff Gordon (178.248 m.p.h.)
Past Aaron's 499 Winners (Starting Position) Car -- Speed
2011 -- Jimmie Johnson (2nd) -- Chevrolet -- 156.261 m.p.h.
2010 -- Kevin Harvick (4th) -- Chevrolet -- 150.590 m.p.h.
2009 -- Brad Keselowski (9th) -- Chevrolet -- 147.565 m.p.h.
2008 -- Kyle Busch (5th) -- Toyota -- 157.409 m.p.h.
2007 -- Jeff Gordon (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 154.167 m.p.h.
2006 -- Jimmie Johnson (16th) -- Chevrolet -- 142.880 m.p.h.
2005 -- Jeff Gordon (2nd) -- Chevrolet -- 146.904 m.p.h.
2004 -- Jeff Gordon (11th) -- Chevrolet -- 129.396 m.p.h.
2003 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr (13th) -- Chevrolet -- 144.625 m.p.h.
2002 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr (4th -- Chevrolet -- 159.022 m.p.h.
2001 -- Bobby Hamilton (14th) -- Chevrolet -- 184.003 m.p.h.
2000 -- Jeff Gordon (36th) -- Chevrolet -- 161.157 m.p.h.
1999 -- Dale Earnhardt (17th) -- Chevrolet -- 163.395 m.p.h.
1998 -- Bobby Labonte (1st) -- Pontiac -- 142.428 m.p.h.
1997 -- Mark Martin (18th) -- Ford -- 188.354 m.p.h. (race record)
1996 -- Sterling Marlin (4th) -- Chevrolet -- 149.999 m.p.h.
1995 -- Mark Martin (3rd) -- Ford -- 178.902 m.p.h.
1994 -- Dale Earnhardt (4th) -- Chevrolet -- 157.478 m.p.h.
1993 -- Ernie Irvan (16th) -- Chevrolet -- 155.412 m.p.h.
1992 -- Davey Allison (2nd) -- Ford -- 167.609 m.p.h.
1991 -- Harry Gant (2nd) -- Oldsmobile -- 165.620 m.p.h.
1990 -- Dale Earnhardt (5th) -- Chevrolet -- 159.571 m.p.h.
1989 -- Davey Allison (2nd) -- Ford -- 155.869 m.p.h.
1988 -- Phil Parsons (3rd) -- Oldsmobile -- 156.547 m.p.h.
1987 -- Davey Allison (3rd) -- Ford -- 154.228 m.p.h.
1986 -- Bobby Allison (2nd) -- Buick -- 157.698 m.p.h.
1985 -- Bill Elliott (1st) -- Ford -- 186.228 m.p.h.
1984 -- Cale Yarborough (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 172.998 m.p.h.
1983 -- Richard Petty (15th) -- Pontiac -- 153.936 m.p.h.
1982 -- Darrell Waltrip (2nd) -- Buick -- 156.697 m.p.h.
1981 -- Bobby Allison (1st) -- Buick -- 149.376 m.p.h.
1980 -- Buddy Baker (2nd) -- Oldsmobile -- 170.481 m.p.h.
1979 -- Bobby Allison (12th) -- Ford -- 154.770 m.p.h.
1978 -- Cale Yarborough (1st) -- Oldsmobile -- 159.699 m.p.h.
1977 -- Darrell Waltrip (11th) -- Chevrolet -- 164.877 m.p.h.
1976 -- Buddy Baker (12th) -- Ford -- 169.887 m.p.h.
1975 -- Buddy Baker (1st) -- Ford -- 144.948 m.p.h.
1974 -- David Pearson (1st) -- Mercury -- 130.220 m.p.h.
1973 -- David Pearson (2nd) -- Mercury -- 131.956 m.p.h.
1972 -- David Pearson (2nd) -- Mercury -- 134.400 m.p.h.
1971 -- Donnie Allison (1st) -- Mercury -- 147.419 m.p.h.
1970 -- Pete Hamilton (6th) -- Plymouth -- 152.321 m.p.h.
 
NOTE: Formerly called Alabama 500 (1970), Winston 500 (1971-93), Winston
Select 500 (1994-96), Winston 500 (1997), Diehard 500 (1998-00),
Talladega 500 (2001).
 
Past Aaron's 499 Pole Winners (Finish)
2011 -- Jeff Gordon (3rd)
2010 -- None -- Weather
2009 -- Juan Pablo Montoya -- 20th
2008 -- Joe Nemechek -- 25th
2007 -- Jeff Gordon -- 1st
2006 -- Elliott Sadler -- 16th
2005 -- Kevin Harvick -- 12th
2004 -- Ricky Rudd -- 17th
2003 -- Jeremy Mayfield -- 18th
2002 -- Jimmie Johnson -- 7th
2001 -- Stacy Compton -- 43rd
2000 -- Jeremy Mayfield -- 14th
1999 -- Ken Schrader -- 6th
1998 -- Bobby Labonte -- 1st
1997 -- John Andretti -- 4th
1996 -- Ernie Irvan -- 31st
1995 -- Terry Labonte -- 26th
1994 -- Ernie Irvan -- 2nd
1993 -- Dale Earnhardt -- 4th
1992 -- Ernie Irvan -- 5th
1991 -- Ernie Irvan -- 32nd
1990 -- Bill Elliott -- 22nd
1989 -- Mark Martin -- 3rd
1988 -- Davey Allison -- 34th
1987 -- Bill Elliott -- 22nd
1986 -- Bill Elliott -- 24th
1985 -- Bill Elliott -- 1st
1984 -- Cale Yarborough -- 1st
1983 -- Cale Yarborough -- 29th
1982 -- Benny Parsons -- 3rd
1981 -- Bobby Allison -- 1st
1980 -- David Pearson -- 3rd
1979 -- Darrell Waltrip -- 2nd
1978 -- Cale Yarborough -- 1st
1977 -- A.J. Foyt -- 38th
1976 -- Dave Marcis -- 9th
1975 -- Buddy Baker -- 1st
1974 -- David Pearson -- 1st
1973 -- Buddy Baker -- 40th
1972 -- Bobby Isaac -- 2nd
1971 -- Donnie Allison -- 1st
1970 -- Bobby Isaac -- 2nd
Last Race Results
RACE: Capital City 400 (April 28th)
SITE: Richmond International Raceway -- Richmond, Virginia
MILES: 300
LAPS: 400
WINNER: Kyle Busch
RUNNER-UP: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
THIRD: Tony Stewart
FOURTH: Denny Hamlin
FIFTH: Kasey Kahne
POLE WINNER: Mark Martin (Finished 8th)
TIME OF RACE: 2 hours, 51 minutes, 6 seconds
AVERAGE SPEED: 105.202 m.p.h.
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 1.095 seconds
CAUTION FLAGS: 5 for 31 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 14 among 7 drivers
LAP LEADERS: M. Martin 1-29; C. Edwards 30-53; T. Kvapil 54; C. Edwards
55-200; T. Stewart 201-205; C. Edwards 206; K. Harvick 207-219;
C. Edwards 220-250; T. Stewart 251-285; Kyle Busch 286-304; T.
Stewart 305-309; J. Johnson 310; C. Edwards 311-314; T. Stewart
315-387; Kyle Busch 388-400.
Aaron's 499 Entry List
CarDriver, HometownCar/Name
1Jamie McMurray (Joplin, MO)Chevrolet/Bass Pro Shops
2Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hills, MI)Dodge/Miller Lite
5Kasey Kahne (Enumclaw, WA)Chevrolet/Farmers Insurance
9Marcos Ambrose (Launceston, Australia)Ford/Stanley
10David Reutimann (Zephyrhills, FL)Chevrolet/Tommy Baldwin Racing
11Denny Hamlin (Chesterfield, VA)Toyota/FedEx Express
13Casey Mears (Bakersfield, CA)Ford/GEICO
14Tony Stewart (Columbus, IN)Chevrolet/Office Depot/Mobil 1
15Clint Bowyer (Emporia, KS)Toyota/Aaron's/AL National Champ
16Greg Biffle (Vancouver, WA)Ford/O'Reilly's
17Matt Kenseth (Cambridge, WI)Ford/Best Buy
18Kyle Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Toyota/M&M's
20Joey Logano (Middletown, CT)Toyota/Dollar General
21Trevor Bayne (Knoxville, TN)Ford/Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire
22A.J. Allmendinger (Los Gatos, CA)Dodge/Shell/Pennzoil/AAA
23Robert Richardson Jr. (McKinney, TX)Toyota/North Texas Pipe
24Jeff Gordon (Vallejo, CA)Chevrolet/DuPont
26Josh Wise (Riverside, CA)Ford/Morristown Driver's Service
27Paul Menard (Eau Claire, WI)Chevrolet/Menards/Turtle Wax
29Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield, CA)Chevrolet/Rheem
30David Stremme (South Bend, IN)Toyota/Inception Motorsports
31Jeff Burton (South Boston, VA)Chevrolet/Caterpillar
32Terry Labonte (Corpus Christi, TX)Ford/C&J Energy
33Tony Raines (LaPorte, IN)Chevrolet/TBA
34David Ragan (Unadilla, GA)Ford/TBA
36Dave Blaney (Hartford, OH)Chevrolet/Tommy Baldwin Racing
38David Gilliland (Riverside, CA)Ford/Taco Bell
39Ryan Newman (South Bend, IN)Chevrolet/Bass Pro
42Juan Pablo Montoya (Bogota, Colombia)Chevrolet/Target/Kraft
43Aric Almirola (Tampa, FL)Ford/Verifone Sail
47Bobby Labonte (Corpus Christi, TX)Toyota/Bush's Beans
48 *Jimmie Johnson (El Cajon, CA)Chevrolet/Lowe's
49J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, AZ)Toyota/JPO Absorbents
51Kurt Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Chevrolet/Phoenix Construction
55Michael Waltrip (Owensboro, KY)Toyota/Aaron's Color Your Way
56Martin Truex Jr. (Mayetta, NJ)Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts
78Regan Smith (Cato, NY)Chevrolet/Furniture Row
83Landon Cassill (Cedar Rapids, IA)Toyota/Burger King
87Joe Nemechek (Lakeland, FL)Toyota/AM FM Energy Wood Pellet
88Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Kannapolis, NC)Chevrolet/Diet Mt. Dew/Nat Guard
93Travis Kvapil (Janesville, WI)Toyota/Burger King
97Bill Elliott (Dawsonville, GA)Toyota/TBA
98Michael McDowell (Glendale, AZ)Ford/Curb Records
99Carl Edwards (Columbia, MO)Ford/Fastenal
 
* - Defending champion
 
Leading Contenders (Finish the last nine years)
Driver200320042005200620072008200920102011
Jimmie Johnson15th4th20thWon2nd13th30th31stWon
Clint Bowyer---------40th35th9th39th7th2nd
Jeff Gordon8thWonWon15thWon19th37th22nd3rd
Dale Earnhardt JrWon2nd15th31st7th10th2nd13th4th
Kevin Harvick2nd3rd12th23rd6th24th38thWon5th
Carl Edwards------32nd8th42nd40th24th11th6th
Greg Biffle22nd15th13th38th29th18th7th17th7th
David Gilliland------------4th15th40th---9th
Joey Logano------------------9th36th10th
A.J. Allmendinger---------------30th35th19th11th
Paul Menard------------43rd14th13th25th12th
Martin Truex Jr------21st36th10th37th33rd12th13th
Regan Smith------------24th21st15th38th15th
Jeff Burton35th7th10th4th34th12th10th32nd16th
Tony Stewart25th22nd2nd2nd28th38th23rd16th17th
Kurt Busch19th36th7th7th3rd39th6th8th18th
Jamie McMurray27th9th5th5th5th17th42nd2nd21st
Denny Hamlin---------22nd21st3rd22nd4th23rd
Ryan Newman39th11th39th33rd9th8th3rd35th25th
Michael Waltrip24th12th3rd25th---27th40th39th28th
Juan Pablo Montoya------------31st2nd20th3rd30th
Marcos Ambrose------------------4th37th32nd
Brad Keselowski------------------Won34th33rd
Kyle Busch------41st32nd37thWon25th9th35th
Matt Kenseth9th42nd11th6th14th41st17th28th36th
Kasey Kahne---30th24th39th12th23rd36th21st37th
David Ragan------------17th4th12th6th39th
Trevor Bayne------------------------40th
 
Mover of the Week
Jimmie Johnson - Started 27th in the field and finished 6th
 
Sports Network Selections
Pick to Win - Dale Earnhardt Jr
Darkhorse - Brad Keselowski
 
Last Week's Pick to Win (Kyle Busch) - Finished 1st
Last Week's Darkhorse (Jeff Burton) - Finished 31st
 
NOTES:
It was Kyle Busch who came away the winner last week at Richmond International Raceway, but it was Greg Biffle who maintained the top spot in the Sprint Cup Series point standings.

Biffle's lead has shrunk down to just five points ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr and nine clear of Denny Hamlin after a disappointing 18th-place finish at Richmond.

Earnhardt, who won the spring race at Talladega Superspeedway in consecutive years from 2004-05, has steadily climbed up in the point rankings after his fifth straight top-10 finish.

One year ago, with pushing help from Earnhardt Jr. on the final lap, Jimmie Johnson edged Clint Bowyer by the slimmest of margins to win the Aaron's 499 at Talladega.

Earnhardt Jr. pushed Johnson on the inside lane, while Richard Childress Racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Bowyer and the Hendrick duo of Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon ran on the outer lanes through turns three and four on the last lap around the 2.66-mile superspeedway.

Johnson pulled ahead of Bowyer for the lead just yards away from the finish line, and then beat Bowyer to the line by only 0.002 seconds for his second Talladega win. His first victory here came in May 2006.

Johnson's margin of victory tied the closest race finish in NASCAR's top-tier series since the sanctioning body began using electronic timing and scoring in 1993. Ricky Craven beat Kurt Busch by the same margin in the 2003 spring race at Darlington Raceway.

With 55 career Sprint Cup wins so far, Johnson is seeking his first trip to victory lane this season. Sixth last week at Richmond, Johnson does own seven top-10 finishes in nine starts this year.

In a race that saw 88 lead changes among 29 drivers, Kevin Harvick was the first to cross the finish line, as he captured the 2010 running of the Aaron's 499.

Harvick held the lead briefly on the fifth lap, but it wasn't until the final lap that he assumed control again and then held off Jamie McMurray by 0.011 of a second for his 12th career Sprint Cup title. The victory ended a 115-race winless streak.

Starting from the ninth position, Brad Keselowski took the lead for the first and only time on the final lap to clip Dale Earnhardt Jr by less than a second for his first of five Sprint Cup titles in 2009. With 57 lead changes among 25 drivers, Keselowski had the last laugh, as he outraced Earnhardt Jr by 0.175 of a second for the win in just his fifth Sprint start.

Kyle Busch won the 2008 running of the Aaron's 499 at Talladega as the checkered flag came out because of two multi-car accidents on the last lap. The No.18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota crossed the finish line just ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya. With the win, Busch won for the sixth time in his career. Since then, Busch has added 18 more victories, including last week to his total and now ranks 26th on the all-time list with 24 titles.

Jeff Gordon became the first four-time winner of this race in 2007, when he raced to victory. Gordon, who became the first pole sitter to capture this race since Bobby Labonte in 1998, reclaimed the lead on lap 185 and held on to edge Jimmie Johnson under caution. Gordon led 10 times for a total of 71 laps, as he claimed the 77th of his 85 career Sprint Cup titles.

In his 38 career starts at Talladega (Sprint and Nationwide), Gordon has six wins, 14 top-five's and 18 top-10's. Recently, Gordon has struggled at Talladega with just two top-10 in his last eight starts. When Gordon captured the 2007 race, he became the all-time leader in restrictor plate wins with 12, passing the great Dale Earnhardt.

Jimmie Johnson led for only three laps, but it was good enough to claim his 21st career Sprint Cup Series title in 2006. Johnson, who has now improved to 55 victories, overtook Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart on the final lap to take the checkered flag by the slimmest of margins (0.120 of a second). Pole Sitter Elliott Sadler led for 23 laps, but finished 16th. Ironically, Vickers returned the favor in the second Talladega race in 2006, as he passed Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr on the closing lap for the win.

David Pearson is the only driver in history to win three consecutive Aaron's 499's (1972-74). The race history at Talladega features many multiple champions. Gordon is a four-time winner, while Pearson, Bobby Allison, Davey Allison, Buddy Baker and Dale Earnhardt are three-time champions. Mark Martin, Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough and Johnson have won this race twice.

Chevrolet has dominated this race in recent years winning 12 of the last 13 Aaron's 499. Toyota snapped the Chevrolet streak in 2008.

Dale Earnhardt Jr and his father had great success at Talladega. Dale Sr won 10 times at the track, while Dale Jr's victory total stands at five.

Opened in 1969, Talladega Superspeedway was last paved in the summer of 2006. The original name for the raceway was Alabama International Motor Speedway and was changed to its current name in 1989. The tri-oval superspeedway is 2.66 miles in length. There have been 85 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Alabama. 33 of 85 races have been won from a top-two starting position, including 13 from the pole; 23 have been won from a starting position outside the top 10. The furthest back in the field a race winner started was 36th, by Jeff Gordon in 2000.

The next Sprint Cup Series race is the May 12 Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Regan Smith is the defending race winner.

05/01 16:09:10 ET

As of May 1, 2012, at 04:09 PM ET