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Statistical Advance: Analyzing The Daytona 500

NASCAR
Friday, February 08, 2008

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2008) – The 50th running of the Daytona 500 lends itself to exemplary adjectives, ranging from special to extraordinary to cathartic.

It lends itself to a special commemorative trophy, like the golden Harley J. Earl trophy this year’s winner will soon hoist.

It lends itself to a big “thank you” to the fans, who are the reason why there’s been 49 of these monumental races.

It also lends itself to a list. Below is a “By the Numbers” look at the first 49 years.

2 – Consecutive victories by Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95).

3 – Times the No. 88 won the Daytona 500; it ranks tied for third behind the No. 43, No. 28 and No. 21.

4 – Laps led by last year’s winner Kevin Harvick, which tied Benny Parsons (1975) for fewest by a Daytona 500 winner.

5 – Drivers who have won the Daytona 500 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship the same year (Jimmie Johnson (2006), Jeff Gordon (1997), Richard Petty (1964, ’71, ’74, ’79), Cale Yarborough (1977) and Lee Petty (1959).

6 – Drivers whose first career NASCAR Sprint Cup victory was the Daytona 500: Tiny Lund (1963), Mario Andretti (1967), Pete Hamilton (1970), Derrike Cope (1990), Sterling Marlin (1994) and Michael Waltrip (2001).

7 – Victories by Richard Petty, most by any driver.

9 – Drivers who won from the pole. It last happened in 2000 (Dale Jarrett).

14 – Times Dale Earnhardt and Bill Elliott completed all 500 miles of the Daytona 500, more than any other drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2007 Top 12 at Daytona International Speedway

Driver

Races

Poles

Wins

Top Fives

Top 10s

DNFs

Average Finish

Driver Rating

1

Jimmie Johnson

12

1

1

5

8

1

12.0

98.1

2

Jeff Gordon

30

3

6

11

17

3

13.9

93.1

3

Clint Bowyer

4

0

0

0

3

0

10.3

88.0

4

Matt Kenseth

16

0

0

1

6

3

19.4

94.1

5

Kyle Busch

6

0

0

2

2

1

20.0

89.1

6

Tony Stewart

18

1

2

5

9

4

18.4

109.0

7

Kurt Busch

14

0

0

6

6

1

20.6

96.8

8

Jeff Burton

28

1

1

6

8

4

16.9

86.4

9

Carl Edwards

6

0

0

1

1

2

25.7

78.7

10

Kevin Harvick

13

1

1

3

5

1

16.4

83.2

11

Martin Truex, Jr

5

0

0

0

0

1

24.2

78.0

12

Denny Hamlin

4

0

0

0

0

0

29.5

65.7

Selected Driver Highlights – Daytona International Speedway-specific
Note: All driver statistics that follow are from Daytona International Speedway. The Loop Data statistics – Driver Rating, Average Running Position, etc. – in this release, however, cover the last six races at Daytona. NASCAR’s scoring loops began collecting data for statistical purposes in 2005.

Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet)
• One win, six top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
• Average finish of 16.9
• Driver Rating of 86.4, 10th-best
• Average Running Position of 15.2, ninth-best
• 25 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
• 1,256 Green Flag Passes, second-most
• Average Green Flag Speed of 185.079, ninth-best
• 747 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), seventh-most

Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)
• Six top fives
• Average finish of 20.6
• Average Running Position of 13.7, sixth-best
• Driver Rating of 96.8, third-best
• 23 Fastest Laps Run, tied for ninth-most
• 781 Laps in the Top 15 (71.8%), third-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s/Interstate Batteries Toyota)
• Two top fives
• Average finish of 20.0
• Average Running Position of 14.0, seventh-best
• Driver Rating of 89.1, eighth-best
• 761 Laps in the Top 15 (69.9%), fourth-most
• 847 Quality Passes, second-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet)
• Six wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; three poles
• Average finish of 13.9
• Average Running Position of 12.4, third-best
• Driver Rating of 93.1, sixth-best
• 1,122 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most
• Average Green Flag Speed of 185.108 mph, sixth-best
• 739 Laps in the Top 15 (67.9%), sixth-most
• 728 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
• One win, five top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
• Average finish of 12.0
• Series-best Average Running Position of 9.0
• Driver Rating of 98.1, second-best
• Average Green Flag Speed of 185.145, third-best
• Series-high 857 Laps in the Top 15 (78.8%)
• 783 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Ford)
• One top five, six top 10s
• Average finish of 19.4
• Average Running Position of 15.3, 10th-best
• Driver Rating of 94.1, fifth-best
• 35 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
• Average Green Flag Speed of 185.165 mph, second-best
• 733 Laps in the Top 15 (67.4%), seventh-most
• 828 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge)
• One top five, two top 10s
• Average finish of 20.2
• Average Running Position of 11.5, second-best
• Driver Rating of 96.6, fourth-best
• 24 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
• Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 185.224 mph
• 827 Laps in the Top 15 (76.0%), second-most
• 837 Quality Passes, third-most

Jamie McMurray (No. 26 Crown Royal Ford)
• One win, two top fives, three top 10s
• Average finish of 25.2
• Driver Rating of 91.4, seventh-best
• Average Running Position of 13.6, fifth-best
• 23 Fastest Laps Run, tied for ninth-most
• 1,256 Green Flag Passes, tied for second-most
• Series-high 861 Quality Passes

Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Toyota)
• Two wins, five top fives, nine top 10s; one pole
• Average finish of 18.4
• Average Running Position of 12.9, fourth-best
• Series-high Driver Rating of 109.0
• 32 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
• 746 Laps in the Top 15 (68.6%), fifth-most

Daytona 500 Tidbits:
• Although the first Daytona 500 was held in 1959, it has been the season-opener only since 1982.
• 501 drivers have competed in at least one Daytona 500,; 293 of those in more than one.
• Bill Elliott, Sterling Marlin and Kyle Petty have all competed in the Daytona 500 26 times – more than any other active drivers.
• 31 drivers have won a Daytona 500.
• Only eight drivers have won the Daytona 500 more than once: Richard Petty (seven), Cale Yarborough (four), Bobby Allison (three), Dale Jarrett (three), Jeff Gordon (three), Bill Elliott (two), Sterling Marlin (two) and Michael Waltrip (two).
• Three drivers have won back-to-back Daytona 500s: Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95)
• Other than Lee Petty, who won the inaugural Daytona 500, no driver has ever won in his first appearance.
• Fred Lorenzen posted a top-10 finish in eight of his nine Daytona 500s – the best of all drivers who have competed in more than two Daytona 500 races.
• Dale Earnhardt finished in the top 10 in 16 of his 23 Daytona 500s, the best performance of the drivers who have competed in more than 10.
• Jimmie Johnson (4 of 6), Bill Elliott (14 of 26), Jeff Gordon (8 of 15), Kevin Harvick (3 of 6), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (4 of 8) are the active drivers who have competed in three or more races with top-10 finishes in at least half of their Daytona 500s.
• Jimmie Johnson has an 11.33 average finish in six appearances, the best of the active drivers who have competed in more than one Daytona 500.
• 18 drivers have a best finish of second in the Daytona 500, led by Terry Labonte who was the runner-up three times.
• The average number of starts before winning the Daytona 500 is 6.19.
• Dale Earnhardt competed 19 times before winning his only Daytona 500 (1998), the longest of any of the 31 race winners.
• Six drivers made 10 or more attempts before their first Daytona 500 victory: Dale Earnhardt (19), Buddy Baker (18), Darrell Waltrip (16), Bobby Allison (14), Michael Waltrip (14) and Sterling Marlin (12).
• The most Daytona 500s all-time without a victory was Dave Marcis (33 races). Ricky Rudd (29), Terry Labonte (27) and Rusty Wallace (23) all failed to win in the Daytona 500.
• Three active drivers have gone 20 or more races without a victory: Kyle Petty (27), Mark Martin (23) and Ken Schrader (23).
• Dave Marcis has competed in the Daytona 500 thirty-three times, more than any other driver. His best Daytona 500 finish was sixth in 1975 and ’78.
• Six drivers have posted their career-first victory with a win in the Daytona 500: Tiny Lund (1963), Mario Andretti (1967), Pete Hamilton (1970), Derrike Cope (1990), Sterling Marlin (1994) and Michael Waltrip (2001).
• Mario Andretti won one of the three Daytona 500s in which he competed. He failed to finish the other two.
• Pete Hamilton won one of the four Daytona 500s in which he competed. He failed to finish the other three.
• A.J. Foyt competed in 28 Daytona 500s , posting one victory and seven top-10 finishes. He failed to finish in his other 19 events.
• Seven of the last 11 Daytona 500s have had a margin of victory of less than three-tenths of a second:
1996 0.120
1999 0.124
2001 0.128
2002 0.193
2004 0.273
2005 0.158
2007 0.090
• Twenty-six of the 49 Daytona 500s have been won from a top-five starting position.
• Nine have been won from the Coors Light Pole, but only twice in the last nine: Jeff Gordon (1999) and Dale Jarrett (2000).
• The only Daytona 500s won from outside a top-10 starting position since 1980 were by Derrike Cope (12th - 1990), Michael Waltrip (19th - 2001), Ward Burton (19th – 2002) and Jeff Gordon (15th – 2005) and Kevin Harvick (34th – 2007).
• Four former winners of the Indianapolis 500 will attempt to qualify for the 2008 Daytona 500: Jacques Villeneuve (1995), Juan Pablo Montoya (2000), Sam Hornish Jr. (2006) and Dario Franchitti (2007).
• A.J. Foyt is the only Indianapolis 500 winner to go on to win the Daytona 500. Foyt won at Indy in 1961 and at Daytona in 1965 and 1972. Mario Andretti also won both races but his Daytona 500 victory (1967) came before his win at Indy (1969).
• 14 winners of the Indianapolis 500 have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Eight competed in at least one Daytona 500:

Driver                  Indy Win  Daytona 500s    Best Daytona 500
A.J. Foyt                  1961              28                  1st (1965, 72)
Johnny Rutherford    1974                7                  9th (1963)
Gordon Johncock      1973                3                29th (1966)
Mario Andretti          1969                3                  1st (1967)
Mark Donahue          1972                1                35th (1972)
Parnelli Jones          1963                3                15th (1963)
Tom Sneva              1983                3                  7th (1983)
Juan Pablo Montoya  2000                1                19th (2007)

Driver Rating at Daytona
Tony Stewart          109.0
Jimmie Johnson      98.1
Kurt Busch              96.8
Ryan Newman        96.6
Matt Kenseth          94.1
Jeff Gordon              93.1
Jamie McMurray      91.4
Kyle Busch            89.1
Clint Bowyer            88.0
Jeff Burton              86.4
Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2007 races (6 total) at Daytona.

Daytona International Speedway Data
Race #: 1 of 36 (2-17-08)
Track Size: 2.5 miles
Race Length: 500 miles (200 laps)
Banking/Corners: 31 degrees
Banking/Straights: 3 degrees
Banking/Tri-Oval: 18 degrees

Qualifying/Race Data
2007 pole winner: David Gilliland (186.320 mph, 48.304 seconds)
2007 race winner: Kevin Harvick, 149.335 mph, 2-18-07)
Qualifying record: Bill Elliott (210.364 mph, 42.783 secs., 2-9-87)
Race record: Buddy Baker (177.602 mph, 2-17-80)

Estimated Pit Window: 36-38 laps depending on fuel mileage

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