Race Weekend Central

Stat Sheet: Daytona 500 Madness Strikes Again

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 championship race and the 2023 season in review.

A Messy Finish

  • The 65th Daytona 500 turned into the Daytona 530. At 212 laps, it was the longest Daytona 500 by mileage in history, surpassing 2020’s 209-lap edition.
  • Four of the last six Daytona 500s have ended under caution due to a crash on the final lap (2018, 2020, 2021 and 2023). Last year’s race finished under green but had a crash after the checkered flag.
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led 10 laps of Sunday’s (Feb. 19) Daytona 500, all of which were past the scheduled distance (laps 203-212). Stenhouse joins Jamie McMurray (2010), Trevor Bayne (2011) and Austin Dillon (2018) as the only drivers to win the Daytona 500 without leading any of the first 200 laps.
  • Sunday’s race was the fourth Daytona 500 to require double overtime, joining 2010, 2011 and 2020. Both 2020 and 2023 finished under caution due to a last-lap crash.
  • As he said on the radio, Kyle Busch would have won the Daytona 500 if it ended at the scheduled distance. Busch then became the fifth driver to lose the Daytona 500 after entering overtime as the leader, joining Mark Martin (2007), Greg Biffle (2010), David Ragan (2011) and Denny Hamlin (2018).
See also
The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2023 Daytona 500

By the Numbers

199: The number of races in between Stenhouse’s second career win at Daytona International Speedway in 2017 and his third win on Sunday.

  • The 199-race drought marks the fourth-longest winless streak in Cup Series history.

52: The number of lead changes on Sunday.

  • It tied the 2010 Daytona 500 for the second-most lead changes in a single Daytona 500 since 1984. Only 2011 (74) had more.

20: Stenhouse’s average running position (ARP) in Sunday’s race. It is the lowest ARP of a Daytona 500 winner since loop data became available in 2005.

11: The number of cars to retire from crash damage after the scheduled distance (lap 200).

330: The number of laps that Busch has led in the Daytona 500 in 19 attempts. It’s the most laps led in the Daytona 500 by a driver who has failed to win it.

42: The number of laps led by Brad Keselowski on Sunday, who led the most of any driver.

  • The most recent Daytona 500 where no one led more than 42 laps was 2011, where Ryan Newman led the field with 37 circuits out front.
  • The driver that led the most laps is now 5-for-24 in winning the Daytona 500 since 2000.
  • It’s the second straight year that Keselowski has led the most laps in the race. He has yet to win it.

Other Easter Eggs

  • It’s the second career win for JTG Daugherty Racing, with its first coming with AJ Allmendinger at Watkins Glen International in 2014. Brad Daugherty also becomes the first Black race team owner to win the Daytona 500.
  • With three wins, Stenhouse is the winningest Cup driver to hail from Mississippi. Lake Speed, who scored his lone win at Darlington Raceway in March 1988, is the only other Mississippian to win in NASCAR’s highest level.
  • The last three races at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway have featured the winner leading exactly 10 laps. Dillon led 10 at Daytona last August while Chase Elliott led 10 at Talladega Superspeedway last October.
  • Riley Herbst finished 10th in his Cup Series debut. The last driver to score a top 10 in their debut was Kaz Grala, who finished seventh in his debut at the Daytona road course in 2020. Travis Pastrana was just short of this mark, as he finished 11th in his debut.
  • Chris Buescher and Erik Jones completed Steve Luvender’s All 40 challenge, which requires a driver to finish a race in every position from first to 40th at least once. Buescher completed the 40 by finishing fourth while Jones completed it by finishing 37th.

Next Up: Auto Club Speedway

How does the Daytona 500 winner perform in race no. 2?

It’s a mixed bag.

  • In the 24 Daytona 500s since 2000, Matt Kenseth in 2009 is the only winner to follow it up with a win in race no. 2.
  • Seven of the 24 scored a top-five finish the following week while 10 of the 24 scored a top 10.
  • Of the remaining 14 winners, 12 of them finished between 11th to 20th while the remaining two finished 30th or worse.

However, the performance of the Daytona 500 winner in race two has been trending downward in the past several years. Only two of the past seven winners have scored a top 10 in the following race, while no one scored a top five.

Will there be parity or dominance at Auto Club next weekend?

If the past decade-plus of racing holds true, one driver will stand out above all the others.

Since ACS went down to one 200-lap race a year in 2011, here is the most laps led by one driver in each race: 151, 80 (shortened to 129 laps), 124, 104, 65, 142, 110, 125, 134, 110, 90.

  • In the 11 races at Auto Club since 2011, eight of them saw a driver lead more than half the race.
  • The driver that led the most laps has gone on to win four of the last five races at Auto Club (no. 5 was Tyler Reddick last season, who cut a tire and crashed while leading).
  • With Reddick leading 90 of the first 151 laps before losing a tire, the trend of one dominating driver has (so far) held up in the Next Gen era.
See also
The Underdog House: America, 1776, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Did It Again

Which drivers, teams and manufacturers have had the most success at Auto Club in the past?

One word: Chevrolet.

  • They’ve won nine of the last 14 races at the track.
  • The manufacturer also acquired Busch in the offseason, who won three of the last five races at ACS that they didn’t win.
  • The manufacturer led 164 of the 200 laps at Auto Club in 2022, and it was the dominant car on the intermediate tracks throughout the year.

Other names to watch for:

  • Kyle Larson (two) and Busch (four) are the only active drivers to have scored multiple wins at the two-mile oval. Both of them are under Chevy’s wing in 2023, and Busch enters this weekend with the same team and car that led the most laps at Auto Club last season.
  • Kevin Harvick, Keselowski, Alex Bowman and Martin Truex Jr. have each scored one win at the track. Everyone else enters this weekend’s race with nada.
  • Hamlin (171), Reddick (90) and Joey Logano (71) enter as the active drivers that have led the most laps at the track without a win.

The Pala Casino 400, the final race on Auto Club’s two-mile configuration, will start at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 26. The race will be broadcasted by 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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Tom B

Interesting Stats.
Seeing a pattern that doesn’t look good for the race.

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