Stewart wins on record-setting night/day

Sunday, May 5, 2002 – It was a race that featured several notable items so perhaps it makes sense that it took two days to complete the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway. Rain, which delayed the previous day’s scheduled start of the race by two hours, eventually returned after less than 70 laps had been completed and forced officials to postpone the completion of the event until the following day.

Tony Stewart won the race, for the second consecutive year, but had to come from the rear of the field to score the victory after a pre-race engine change negated his third-place qualifying run. Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Bobby Labonte, eighth in qualifying, also went to the back for a similar issue. And when Johnny Benson suffered a broken rib in Friday night’s Hardee’s 250 Busch race, Joe Nemechek took over the ride, and a third Pontiac was sent to the rear before the Cup race ever got under way.

It was Stewart’s third win at Richmond, site of his first career victory in the series in 1999.

By starting the event, Ricky Rudd tied Terry Labonte for most consecutive starts in the Cup series at 655.

A new sealer put down on the track led to less than ideal racing conditions and as a result, there were a track record 103 laps run under caution and the 14 caution flags tied the track record.

The race was the final Cup start for local favorite Rick Mast in the Junie Donlavey-owned No. 90 Ford. Mast, diagnosed with chronic and acute carbon monoxide poisoning, announced his retirement from competition in January, 2003.

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