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Analyzing The Daytona 500

Statistically
Monday, February 09, 2009

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This Sunday, a mid-February tradition continues. 

The 2009 edition of the Daytona 500 will be the 51st running, the first originating way back in 1959. 

A Daytona 500 victory defines a racer’s career. There have been seven different careers defined in the last seven Daytona 500s. That is just one of the many interesting numbers going into this weekend’s race. Here are a few more:

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 Terry Labonte needs to run on Sunday to reach 5,000 laps run in the Daytona 500. With 4,996 laps run, he leads all drivers.

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.

8 – Number of times the margin of victory has been under one second since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993. All other times, the race has ended under caution.

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

18 – Joey Logano’s age. He will become the youngest driver to start the Daytona 500. The previous youngest was Clark Dwyer at 19 years, 1 month and 8 days in 1983.

34 – Starting position of Kevin Harvick in 2007, the lowest of any race winner.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final 2008 Top 12 at Daytona International Speedway

Driver

Races

Poles

Wins

Top Fives

Top 10s

DNFs

Average Finish

Driver Rating

1

Jimmie Johnson

14

2

1

5

8

1

13.9

94.7

2

Carl Edwards

8

0

0

2

2

2

21.9

77.8

3

Greg Biffle

12

1

1

1

3

1

22.7

74.4

4

Kevin Harvick

15

1

1

3

5

1

15.9

83.8

5

Clint Bowyer

6

0

0

0

4

0

12.3

86.9

6

Jeff Burton

30

1

1

6

8

5

17.5

82.0

7

Jeff Gordon

32

3

6

11

17

4

15.2

93.7

8

Denny Hamlin

6

0

0

0

0

0

26.8

73.0

9

Tony Stewart

20

1

2

6

10

4

17.7

105.4

10

Kyle Busch

8

0

1

4

4

1

15.6

98.3

11

Matt Kenseth

18

0

0

2

7

3

19.4

92.7

12

Dale Earnhardt Jr

18

0

2

6

11

1

13.6

92.4

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 eight races at Daytona. NASCAR’s scoring loops began collecting data for statistical purposes in 2005.

Clint Bowyer (No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet)
• Four top 10s
• Average finish of 12.3
• Average Running Position of 15.6, ninth-best
• Driver Rating of 86.9, ninth-best
• 22 Fastest Laps Run, tied for 22nd-most
• Average Green Flag Speed of 184.909 mph, 10th-fastest
• 515 Laps in the Top 15 (47.4%), 18th-most
• 557 Quality Passes (average of 92.8 per race), 18th-most

Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)
• Eight top fives
• Average finish of 18.4
• Average Running Position of 15.8, 10th-best
• Driver Rating of 90.5, eighth-best
• 883 Laps in the Top 15, eighth-most
• 835 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s/Interstate Batteries Toyota)
• One win, four top fives
• Average finish of 15.6
• Average Running Position of 12.1, third-best
• Driver Rating of 98.3, second-best
• 29 Fastest Laps Run, tied for 12th-most
• 1,314 Green Flag Passes, 14th-most
• 1,080 Laps in the Top 15 (74.5%), second-most
• 1,062 Quality Passes, second-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet)
• Two wins, six top fives, 11 top 10s
• Average finish of 13.6
• Average Running Position of 13.4, sixth-best
• Driver Rating of 92.4, seventh-best
• 43 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
• Average Green Flag Speed of 184.858 mph, 15th-best
• 1,002 Laps in the Top 15 (69.1%), fourth-most
• 932 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Aflac Ford)
• Two top fives
• Average finish of 21.9
• Average Running Position of 17.9, 15th-best
• Driver Rating of 77.8, 17th-best
• 27 Fastest Laps Run, 17th-most
• 1,548 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
• Average Green Flag Speed of 184.928 mph, eighth-best
• 791 Laps in the Top 15 (54.6%), 10th-most
• 967 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet)
• Six wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; three poles
• Average finish of 15.2
• Average Running Position of 11.9, second-best
• Driver Rating of 93.7, fifth-best
• 28 Fastest Laps Run, tied for 14th-most
• Average Green Flag Speed of 185.007 mph, fifth-fastest
• 1,001 Laps in the Top 15 (69.0%), tied for fifth-most
• 890 Quality Passes, eighth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
• One win, five top fives, eight top 10s; two poles
• Average finish of 13.9
• Series-best Average Running Position of 10.0
• Driver Rating of 94.7, fourth-best
• 1,363 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
• Average Green Flag Speed of 185.033, fourth-fastest
• Series-high 1,094 Laps in the Top 15 (75.4%)
• 1,008 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Ryan Newman (No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet)
• One win, two top five, three top 10s
• Average finish of 19.9
• Average Running Position of 12.8, fourth-best
• Driver Rating of 94.9, third-best
• 33 Fastest Laps Run, tied for eighth-most
• 1,540 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
• Average Green Flag Speed of 185.081 mph, second-fastest
• 1,026 Laps in the Top 15 (70.8%), third-most
• Series-high 1,077 Quality Passes

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet)
• Two wins, six top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole
• Average finish of 17.7
• Average Running Position of 12.9, fifth-best
• Series-high Driver Rating of 105.4
• 41 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
• 996 Laps in the Top 15 (68.7%), seventh-most

Daytona 500 Tidbits

• The 2009 edition will be the 51st running of the Daytona 500.

• Although the first Daytona 500 was held in 1959, it has been the season-opener only since 1982.

• 505 drivers have competed in at least one Daytona 500; 293 of those in more than one.

• Dave Marcis has competed in the Daytona 500 33 times, more than any other driver. His best Daytona 500 finish was sixth in 1975 and ’78.

• 32 drivers have won a Daytona 500.

• Eight drivers have won more than one Daytona 500, led by Richard Petty with seven victories.

• 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 500s.

• Dale Earnhardt finished in the top 10 in 16 of his 23 Daytona 500s, the best performance of drivers who have competed in more than 10.

• Kurt Busch (4/8), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5/9), Bill Elliott (14/27), Jeff Gordon (8/16), Jimmie Johnson (4/7), Elliott Sadler (5/10) and Tony Stewart (5/10), are the active drivers who have competed in three or more races with top-10 finishes in at least half of their Daytona 500s.

• Only 12 drivers have an average finish of 10th or better in the Daytona 500, five of those competed in the Daytona 500 only once.

• Bill Elliott has a 13.38 average finish in six appearances, the best of the active drivers who have competed in more than one Daytona 500.

• Jimmie Johnson has a 13.6 average finish in seven appearances, the best of the full-time drivers that have competed in more than one Daytona 500.

• 18 drivers have a best finish of second in the Daytona 500, led by Kurt Busch and Terry Labonte, both of whom were runner up three times.

Hard to Get There

• Excluding the drivers who won the first four Daytona 500s, the average number of starts before winning is 6.39.

• Other than Lee Petty, who won the inaugural Daytona 500, no driver has ever won in his first appearance.

• 26 of the 32 drivers who have won, participated in at least two Daytona 500s before visiting Victory Lane.

• Dale Earnhardt competed 19 times before winning his only Daytona 500 (1998), the longest span of any of the 32 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).

• 16 drivers have competed in the Daytona 500 15 or more times without reaching Victory Lane.

• The most Daytona 500s all-time without a victory was Dave Marcis (33 races).

• Ricky Rudd (29), Kyle Petty (27), Ken Schrader (23) and Rusty Wallace (23) all failed to win the Daytona 500.

• Terry Labonte (27) and Mark Martin (24) are the active drivers with 20 or more races without a victory.

Career-first Victory

• 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).

• Three other drivers posted their career-first victory in (point-paying) qualifying races: Johnny Rutherford (1963), Bobby Isaac (1964) and Earl Balmer (1966).

Repeat Winners

• 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).

• A driver has won back-to-back Daytona 500s three times. Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95).

All or Nothing

• 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.

Close Finishes

Kevin Harvick’s 0.020-second margin of victory over Mark Martin in the 2007 Daytona 500 was the ninth-closest overall since the advent of electronic timing in 1993, and the closest in a Daytona 500. Five of the last 13 Daytona 500s have ended under caution (2006, 2003, 2000, 1998 and 1997). The other eight have all 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  0.020
2008  0.092

Qualifying Matters

• 26 of the 50 Daytona 500s have been won from a top-five starting position.

• Nine have been won from the pole, but only twice in the last 10: 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), Jeff Gordon (15th - 2005) and Kevin Harvick (34th – 2007).

The Car Count

The 57 cars entered in the 2009 Daytona 500 ties the 2005 Daytona 500 for the fifth largest car count this century. The top-10 car counts since 2000:

Race                                  Year    Track      Car Count
Daytona 500                        2007    Daytona      61
Daytona 500                        2000    Daytona      59
Daytona 500                        2006    Daytona      58
Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500  2004    Atlanta        58
Daytona 500                        2009    Daytona      57
Daytona 500                        2005    Daytona      57
Ford 400                              2006    Homestead  56
Ford 400                              2004    Homestead  56
Brickyard 400                      2001    Indianapolis  54
Five races                                                          53

At Daytona International Speedway

History

• Groundbreaking for Daytona International Speedway was on Nov. 25, 1957. The soil underneath the banked corners was dug from the infield of the track and the hole filled with water. It is now known as Lake Lloyd.

• The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona was a 100-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, 1959.

• The first NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona was held on Feb. 13, 1982.

• Richard Petty won his 200th career race on July 4, 1984 at Daytona.

• Lights were installed in the spring of 1998. However, the race was delayed until October that year due to thick smoke from wildfires. The second Daytona race has been held under the lights ever since.

• The first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona was held on Feb. 18, 2000.

Notebook

• There have been 123 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Daytona International Speedway since the track hosted its first race in 1959: 50 have been 500 miles, 46 were 400 miles and four 250 miles. There were also 23 qualifier races that were point races (one in 1959; two from 1960-1971).

• Fireball Roberts won the inaugural pole at Daytona.

• Bob Welborn won the first race at Daytona, the 100-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500.

• Lee Petty won the inaugural Daytona 500 on Feb. 22, 1959.

• Fireball Roberts won the first 400-mile race at Daytona, the 1963 Firecracker 400.

• 51 drivers have posted poles at Daytona; 19 have more than one.

• Cale Yarborough leads all drivers with 12 poles at Daytona.

• Bill Elliott leads all active drivers with five poles at Daytona.

• 52 drivers have won at Daytona; 24 have won more than once.

• Richard Petty leads all drivers in victories at Daytona with 10.

• Jeff Gordon has six victories at Daytona, more than any other active driver.

• The Wood Brothers have won 14 races at Daytona, more than any other car owner.

• Fifteen full-length races at Daytona have been won from the pole. Thirteen have been won from the second starting position – a total of 28 race winners from the front row.

• A driver has swept both races at Daytona only four times, most recently by Bobby Allison in 1982.

• Qualifying has never been canceled at Daytona. The qualifying races were not held in 1968.

• Bill Elliott won the 1988 summer race from 38th, the deepest in the field that a Daytona race winner has started.

• Other than qualifying races, there have been four Daytona races run caution free: 1959 spring, 1959 summer; 1960 summer; 1961 spring; 1961 summer and 1962 spring.

• Other than qualifying races, the race has been shortened four times at Daytona - all by rain: 1965 spring; 1966 spring, 1996 summer and 2003 spring.

• There have been three green-white-checkered finishes at Daytona: 2005 spring (203/200), 2006 spring (203/200) and summer 2008 (162/160).

Hot Fact

Jeff Gordon has led 557 laps in 32 races at Daytona, more than any other active driver. He is 10th all-time in laps led there. Tony Stewart is 11th on the all-time list of laps led at Daytona with 531. Stewart has competed in just 20 Daytona events.

The Local Flavor

• There have been 159 NASCAR Sprint Cup races in Florida.

• 152 drivers in NASCAR’s three national series have their home state recorded as Florida.

• There have been nine race winners from Florida in NASCAR’s three national series:

Driver                      NSCS  NNS    NCTS
Fireball Roberts        33        0          0
LeeRoy Yarbrough    14        0          0
Marshall Teague        7          0          0
Joe Nemechek          4        16          0
Bobby Johns              2          0          0
Shorty Rollins            1          0          0
Rick Wilson              0          2          0
David Reutimann        0          1          1
Aric Almirola              0          1          0

Daytona International Speedway Data
Race #: 1 of 36 (2-15-09)
Track Size: 2.5 miles
Race Length: 500 miles (200 laps)
Banking/Corners: 31 degrees
Banking/Straights: 3 degrees
Banking/Tri-Oval: 18 degrees
Driver Rating at Daytona
Tony Stewart  105.4
Kyle Busch  98.3
Ryan Newman  94.9
Jimmie Johnson 94.7
Jeff Gordon  93.7
Matt Kenseth  92.7
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 92.4
Kurt Busch  90.5
Clint Bowyer  86.9
Mark Martin  84.8
Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2008 races (8 total) at Daytona.

Qualifying/Race Data
2008 pole winner: Jimmie Johnson (187.075 mph, 48.109 seconds)
2008 race winner: Ryan Newman, 152.672 mph, 2-17-08)
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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