Skip to content

Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the Daytona 500 (well, almost)

Feb 23, 2014, 10:21 AM EDT

1980 Daytona 500 Getty Images

So many things have happened over the 55-year history of the Daytona 500 that you could write a book about all the highs, lows and in-betweens.

You say you can’t get enough of information and minituae about the Great American Race?

Well, the folks from NASCAR’s statistics department have you covered. Here’s everything (well, almost) you’ve ever wanted to know about the Daytona 500:

* The 2014 edition will be the 56th running of the Daytona 500.

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

* 523 drivers have competed in at least one Daytona 500; 311 in more than one.

* 35 drivers have won a Daytona 500.

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

* The 10 drivers who 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), Matt Kenseth (two), Jimmie Johnson (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).

* Active Daytona 500 winners and the number of NSCS starts in their careers when they won: Jeff Gordon won his third Daytona 500 on his 402nd career start (2005). Gordon also posted his second Daytona 500 win on his 190th career start (1999). Jimmie Johnson posted his second Daytona 500 win on his 400th career start (2013) and Matt Kenseth won his second Daytona 500 on his 437th career start (2012). Michael Waltrip posted his second Daytona 500 win on his 535th career start (2003).

* Seven drivers 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), Michael Waltrip (2001) and Trevor Bayne (2011).

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

* Lee Petty, who won the inaugural Daytona 500, and Trevor Bayne, 2011 Daytona 500 champion, are the only two drivers to win the Daytona 500 in their first appearance.

* Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes in the Daytona 500 with five; Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers with four.

* Dale Earnhardt had 12 top fives in his 23 Daytona 500 starts, more than any other driver. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin and Terry Labonte lead all active drivers in Daytona 500 top-five finishes with six.

* Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty each posted a series leading 16 top 10s in the Daytona 500. Terry Labonte and Mark Martin lead all active drivers in Daytona 500 top-10 finishes with 12; followed by Michael Waltrip with nine.

* 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.

* Clint Bowyer has an 11.9 average finish in nine appearances, the best of the active drivers who have competed in more than one Daytona 500.

* 28 of the 35 drivers who have won the Great American Race, 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 35 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 driver with the all-time most Daytona 500 starts without a victory is Dave Marcis with 33 races; the active drivers with the most starts without a Daytona 500 win is Terry Labonte (31 races), Mark Martin (29 races), Joe Nemechek (18) and Tony Stewart (15).

* Kevin Harvick‘s 0.020-second margin of victory over Mark Martin in the 2007 Daytona 500 is the 12th-closest overall since the advent of electronic timing in 1993, and the closest in a Daytona 500.

* Nine of the 55 Daytona 500s (16.3%) have been won from the Coors Light pole. The last to do so was Dale Jarrett in 2000. Jeff Gordon is the only active driver to accomplish the feat (1999).

* Cale Yarborough (1968, 1984) and Bill Elliott (1985, 1987) are the only two drivers to win the Daytona 500 from the Coors Light pole more than once.

* 16 of the 55 Daytona 500s (29.0%) have been won from the front row.

* 27 of the 55 Daytona 500s (49.0%) have been won from a top-five starting position.

* 40 of the 55 Daytona 500s (72.7%) have been won from a top 10 starting position.

* Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 from the 39th starting position in 2009, the deepest a race winner has started.

* Five reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions have gone on to win the Daytona 500 the following season: Lee Petty (1959), Richard Petty (1973), Cale Yarborough (1977), Jeff Gordon (1999) and Dale Jarrett (2000).

* Five drivers have won the Daytona 500 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same season, Richard Petty has done it four times: Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013), Jeff Gordon (1997), Richard Petty (1964, 1971, 1974, 1979), Cale Yarborough (1977) and Lee Petty (1959).

* Danica Patrick on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2013 became the first female in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history to win a Coors Light pole for the Daytona 500 posting a speed of 196.434 mph.

* Janet Guthrie previously held the record for top starting position by a female NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, starting ninth twice in 1977 – at Talladega Superspeedway on Aug. 7, 1977, and at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 28, 1977.

* In 2012, Danica Patrick became the third female driver to compete in a Daytona 500 joining Janet Guthrie and Shawna Robinson.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. Briatore: Alonso has a better future with McLaren

    May 29, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24:  Flavio Briatore, his wife Elisabetta Gregoraci and son Falco attend the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Fernando Alonso’s manager confident the Spaniard was right to leave Ferrari and join McLaren for 2015.

  2. Ecclestone willing to do “whatever is needed” to revive Indian GP

    May 29, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of India - Race Getty Images

    Ecclestone has given the race promoters two months to make a decision on whether to revive the Indian Grand Prix or not.

  3. Defending Red Bull GRC champion Joni Wiman adjusts to “target on his back”

    May 29, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Rallycross photos © QNIGAN.COM 2014

    What’s next for Joni Wiman, the defending Red Bull Global Rallycross champion?

  4. Ricciardo relishing return to site of first F1 victory

    May 29, 2015, 9:30 AM EDT

    MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 08: Daniel Ricciardo of Red Bull and Australia wins the Canadian F1 Grand Prix at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on June 8, 2014 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Peter J Fox/Getty Images,) Getty Images

    Ricciardo announced himself on F1’s big stage in Canada last year with the first of three victories in 2014.

  5. NHRA: 3-time Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon making most of career resurgence

    May 29, 2015, 12:35 AM EDT

    3-time NHRA Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon. (Photo courtesy NHRA) 3-time NHRA Top Fuel champ Larry Dixon. (Photo courtesy NHRA)

    Larry Dixon is making up for lost time – in VERY fast way, that is – as in the neighborhood of 320-plus mph and less than four seconds.

  6. ARCA: From welder to race car driver, Sarah Cornett-Ching continues her building prowess

    May 28, 2015, 11:05 PM EDT

    (Photo courtesy ARCA) (Photo courtesy ARCA)

    Sarah Cornett-Ching is opening a lot of eyes in the ARCA Series this season.

  7. Red Bull GRC entry lists, event schedule for Ft. Lauderdale opener

    May 28, 2015, 8:59 PM EDT

    GRCLogo

    Here’s the field for this year’s Red Bull GRC season opener in Ft. Lauderdale.

  8. Surprises, struggles: NHRA at one-third mark of ’15 season

    May 28, 2015, 6:49 PM EDT

    nhra logo

    With the completion of the Kansas Nationals this past Sunday, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has reached the one-third point of the 2015 season.

  9. Coulthard: Monaco mistake could make Hamilton think twice in future races

    May 28, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 24:  (L-R) Race winner Nico Rosberg of Germany and Mercedes GP and third placed Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain and Mercedes GP react on the podium following the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Ex-F1 driver ponders whether Hamilton’s trust in Mercedes may have taken a hit after his Monaco defeat.

  10. FIA seeking new teams for Formula 1 in 2016 and 2017

    May 28, 2015, 3:23 PM EDT

    HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 18:  The German national flag flaps in the wind next to the FIA flag during practice ahead of the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 18, 2014 in Hockenheim, Germany.  (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images) Getty Images

    FIA looking for more teams to join the sport in the next two seasons.

  11. Bottas confident Williams will bounce back in Canada

    May 28, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT

    Williams Martini Racing's Finnish driver Valtteri Bottas  drives at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 24, 2015, during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    After Williams recorded its first non-score since Brazil 2013 in Monaco, Bottas is sure that the team will respond in Montreal next weekend.

  12. Nissan to race with retro livery on Le Mans LMP1 car

    May 28, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    © Nissan NISMO © Nissan NISMO

    25 years on from Mark Blundell’s pole position at Le Mans, Nissan pays homage with a retro livery on its third car for the race.

  13. Magnussen unconcerned by Vandoorne’s success in GP2

    May 28, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT

    MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 15:  Kevin Magnussen of Denmark and McLaren Honda waves to the fans during the drivers' parade before the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 15, 2015 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Magnussen was dropped by McLaren at the end of 2014, but has hopes of recovering his seat in the future.

  14. Lotus rejects claim Grosjean brake-tested Verstappen

    May 28, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    Verstappen 245 Getty Images

    Alan Permane claims the data on Grosjean’s car shows he did not brake-test Verstappen and cause their crash in Monaco last Sunday.

  15. Todt: Impossible to ban alcohol sponsorship in F1

    May 28, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    MONTE-CARLO, MONACO - MAY 23:  Jenson Button of Great Britain and McLaren Honda drives during final practice for the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Monaco on May 23, 2015 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images) Getty Images

    FIA president responds to calls for a stricter policy on alcohol sponsorship in F1.

  16. Andreas Bakkerud to sub for Piquet Jr. with SH Rallycross at X Games

    May 28, 2015, 9:45 AM EDT

    Photo: SH Rallycross Photo: SH Rallycross

    Andreas Bakkerud will fill in for Piquet while he’s on Formula E duty in Russia.

  17. Wolff answers fans questions following Monaco pit error

    May 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    150528_WolffHamilton Getty Images

    Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff took part in a Twitter Q&A earlier this week.