Race Weekend Central

Stat Sheet: The Daytona 500 or The Daytona 506.9?

Stat Sheet is a returning column for Frontstretch that will discuss notable statistics and trends for races and the drivers competing in them. Each column will analyze the results of the previous NASCAR Cup Series weekend and then provide an outlook for the upcoming weekend. The final column of the year at Phoenix Raceway will analyze the final race and the 2023 season in review. Click here for Stat Sheet’s debut column in December that covered 2022 in review.

It’s the Tuesday after Super Bowl LVII, which means that just one day remains before Speedweeks officially kicks off with Daytona 500 qualifying on Wednesday (Feb. 15). 42 drivers will once again hit the track in a quest to claim the coveted Harley J. Earl Trophy in the 65th running of The Great American Race at Daytona International Speedway.

Denny Hamlin leads the field with three victories in NASCAR’s most prestigious race and is striving for a fourth; Kyle Busch and countless others will be seeking glory at Daytona for the first time in their careers. Here’s what to look for when NASCAR’s 75th anniversary season begins this weekend:

See also
Entry List: 2023 Daytona 500

Calamity Corner

506.9: The average number of miles in The Great American Race since overtime was implemented for 2005 (this number excludes 2009, which was shortened by rain after 152 laps).

  • Of the 17 Daytona 500s that made it to the scheduled distance since 2005, 11 of them went into overtime.
  • Of the six Daytona 500s to finish at 200 laps, 2013, 2014 and 2021 all had a crash on the final lap. 2008, 2016 and 2017 were the only three to not go into overtime and not have a crash on the final circuit.
  • The last 10 Daytona 500s (2013-2022) have featured an average of 2.1 cautions in the final 20 laps of the scheduled distance. The 2019 edition had the most cautions after lap 180 with five, while the 2017 edition was the only one to run caution free.
  • The six Daytona 500s since the damaged vehicle policy began in 2017 have featured an average of 15.7 cars that fail to finish due to crash damage or the DVP. 2019 led the way with 20 wrecked cars, half the field.

Hot Potato

27.4: The average number of lead changes in the Daytona 500 since 2013.

  • 2014 featured the most lead changes with 42, while 2019 had the fewest with 15.

7.4: The average number of laps left for the final lead change of the Daytona 500 since 2013.

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr., in 2014, held the lead the longest, as he never relinquished the top spot after taking the lead with 18 laps to go.
  • Hamlin (2016), Kurt Busch (2017), Austin Dillon (2018) and Michael McDowell (2021) all won the Daytona 500 with a last-lap pass.
  • For Busch, Dillon and McDowell, it was the only lap they led all day.

Unlucky to Be Leading

5: The number of times the driver that led the most laps has won the Daytona 500 in the 23 editions since 2000.

  • Dale Jarrett in 2000, Michael Waltrip in 2003, Earnhardt in 2014 and Hamlin in both 2016 and 2020 are the only drivers to accomplish this.

Eleven times has a driver led 80 or more laps in a single Daytona 500 since 2000.

  • Just two of the 11 went on the win the race: Jarrett in 2000 (89) and Hamlin in 2016 (95).
  • The nine losers were Tony Stewart in 2004 (98), Stewart in 2005 (107), Kurt Busch in 2007 (95), Kyle Busch in 2008 (86), Kyle Busch in 2009 (88), Matt Kenseth in 2013 (86), Jeff Gordon in 2015 (87), Ryan Blaney in 2018 (118) and Hamlin in 2021 (98).
See also
2023 NASCAR Preseason Power Rankings: Nos. 30-21

Chasing History

3: The number of times since 1980 that a driver won the Daytona 500 and the Cup Series championship in the same season (Gordon in 1997, Jimmie Johnson in 2006 and 2013).

9: The number of times a driver scored their first Cup Series win in the Daytona 500.

The following active drivers enter 2023 with the most starts in the Daytona 500 without a win:

The unofficial NASCAR triple crown consists of the Daytona 500, the Coca-Cola 600 and the Southern 500.

  • Kevin Harvick and Hamlin are the only active full-time drivers to have won all three.
  • With a win on Sunday, Truex, Busch and Keselowski would complete the last leg of the triple crown.
  • Larson (Coca-Cola 600) and Erik Jones (Southern 500) would complete a second leg of the triple crown with a win.

Speedweeks Preview

  • The most recent time that the Daytona 500 polesitter won the race was Jarrett in 2000.
  • A Hendrick Motorsports driver has started on the pole in seven of the eight Daytona 500s since 2015. The best result for the team in that time span was a runner-up finish by Chase Elliott in 2021.
  • Waltrip in 2003 (fourth), Earnhardt in 2004 (third), Kenseth in 2012 (fourth), Joey Logano in 2015 (fifth) and Cindric in 2022 (fifth) are the only drivers to win from a top-five spot on the grid since the last win from the pole.
  • Waltrip in 2003, Earnhardt in 2004 and Kenseth in 2012 are also the only drivers since 2000 to win the Daytona 500 after winning a Bluegreen Vacations Duel race.

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season kicks off on Sunday, Feb. 19 at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX.

About the author

Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.

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Is it really a Triple Crown win if they aren’t all won in the same season?


Baby Busch would think so and add it to his list of “accomplishments”.

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