Daytona By The Numbers
Daytona has proven it’s the race of all races. “Well Knowns” doing what they do best, and “Young Guns” trying to make a name for themselves, can have the makings for some good side by side racing. Short tempers, aggressive driving and little mistakes have lead to some bad pile-ups! Daytona should prove to be an exciting race!
The Super Bowl may have come and gone, but this Sunday, the Super Bowl of Nascar will be in full throttle. So reclaim your favorite seat in the living room, your trusty remote and let’s get ready for the 51st running of the Daytona 500. We’ll take a look at who’s hot and who’s not by breaking Daytona down by the numbers.
Hendrick Motorsports shot out of the gate swinging claiming 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 7th place finishes in the Duel races. Jeff Gordon would win the first. Joe Gibbs was none too shabby placing 1st, 4th and 5th in the two races. Kyle Busch would win the second Duel.
Being the actual first race of the season, we don’t have a lot to go on as far as sizing up drivers this year. We will have to dive into the statistics pool. We’ll first dive right into the deep end with career stats, then end up in the shallow end for more recent figures. We’ll look at top drivers by track and track type. You may be surprised who is on the short list.
About The Track:
About The Track:
2.5mile oval, 200 laps, 500 mile
Banking in turns 1-4: 31 degrees
Banking in tri-oval: 18 degrees
Banking in the backstretch: 3 degrees
Banking on the straightaway: 6 degrees
Length of frontstretch: 3,800 ft
Length of backstretch: 3,400 ft
Grandstand seating: 168,000
Pit Road Speed: 55 mph
Pit Road Length: 1,600 ft
Pit Road Width: 50 ft
Pace Car Speed: 70 mph
About The Tires:
Goodyear Eagle Superspeedway Radials
Tires on hand – 1,950 Right Sides, 1,950 Left Sides
Tire Circumference – Left Side 87.4 in. ; Right Side 88.4 in.
Inflation – 30 psi left front and rear, 55 psi right front, 50 psi right rear
Estimated Pit Window – 41-43 laps based on fuel mileage
TOP 12 DRIVERS FOR DAYTONA (Past 10 Years):
1- Clint Bowyer has been in 6 Daytona races and leads with the best finishing average. He has not won here, but cracked the top 10 four times out of 6 appearances. His best finish was 6th in his first race here in 2006. His career here is 6th, 10th, 18th, 7th, 24th and 9th. He ran 28th in the final practice. You may want to put him on your list. He’ll be starting 22nd in Sunday’s event.
2- Dale Earnhardt Jr. fairs well at Daytona. In 18 races, he snatched up 2 wins, 6 top 5′s and 11 top 10′s. He has a 13.5 average finish. In the last two races here, his average is 8.5, placing 9th and 8th. Jr. ran 7th in the final practice with a speed of 190.504 on lap 2 of 25. He will be starting in 14th position for Sunday’s event.
3- Jimmie Johnson comes in third with a 13.9 average finish. He has a win, 5 top 5′s and 8 top 10′s out of 14 races. Johnson won it all last year after a sluggish Daytona start. In the last two visits, he has placed 27th and 23rd. In the fourth practice, Johnson was 16th in the final practice with a speed of 189.470 on lap 4 of 20. He will start 7th for Sunday’s event.
4- Kyle Busch pulls into the fourth spot with a 15.6 finishing average. His first 2 races here were brutal, finishing 38th and 31st, but since then he has a tight grip on this track. He has since placed 23rd, 2nd, 24th, 2nd, 4th and 1st. Kyle was 12th in the final practice with a speed of 189.757 on lap 2 of 17. He will also have a comfy spot in the 4th position to start Sunday’s race.
5- Kevin Harvick has a 15.9 average finish, with a win, 3 top 5′s and 5 top 10′s. Looking at his numbers, he seems unpredictable. He has a great record, but mixed in are some bad finishes that take away from the good ones. Some are 36th (’02), 28th (’05) and 34th (’07). His last two finishes here last year were 14th and 12th. Harvick was 20th in the final practice just behind Martin Truex Jr. He will be starting 32nd for Sunday’s event.
6- David Ragan does not have but a handful of Daytona runs, but what he has, looks great. That’s if you drop the 42nd finish he had this time last year. Other than that, Ragan has placed 5th, 12th and 5th. His overall Daytona finishing average is 16. He ran 6th in the final practice and will be starting 33rd in his 5th Daytona.
7- Kasey Kahne has a 17.0 average finish. The further into his career he goes, the better he seems to get. His first two Daytona races ended with a 41st and 25th. His last two were 7th and 7th. As a matter of fact, his last four were 7th, 9th, 7th and 7th. I think the kid has found some magic and feels comfortable on the track. He ran 23rd in the final practice and will be starting 15th Sunday.
8- Mark Martin has been around this block many times. However, we are only looking at the past 10 years here. So, from ’99 to ’09, Martin has a 17.2 finishing average for those 20 races. He has 5 top 5′s and 9 top 10′s. Martin is another one that has really fantastic runs, like; (2000) 5th, 4th (’02-’03) 6th, 5th,5th (’04) 6th,6th. Then sprinkled in is finishes like; (’99) 31st, (’01) 33rd, (’04) 43rd, (’05) 39th, (’06) 33rd and (’08) 31st. His last two times here were 31st and 10th. That was then, and this is now. He ran 11th in the final practice and will be starting 2nd sandwiched between Martin Truex Jr. and Jeff Gordon.
9- Jeff Burton makes the top 10 with his 17.4 finishing average. Out of the last 20 races, he has five top 5′s, 7 top 10′s. He’s had some near wins placing 3rd, 2nd, 2nd and 3rd. He did get a win 2000. His last two times here have been hit and miss. This time last year he placed 13th, but the last Daytona race he placed 37th. He was 22nd fastest in the final practice session and will be starting 26th for the race.
10-Tony Stewart just makes the top ten with a 17.7 finishing average. Only counting the last 20 races, 2 wins, 6 top 5′s and 10 top 10′s. This time last year, he placed 3rd. He was a low 33rd in the final practice but Smoke just maybe smokin’ Sunday. If his car in dialed in just right, he just may be a contender, especially with a 5th place starting position.
11-Jeff Gordon is being dubbed in blogs all over the net as the odds on favorite, but his average finish of 17.9 in the last 20 races, lands him in the 11th spot. During this period, he has 3 wins, 4 top 5′s and 9 top 10′s. Daytona has not been that kind to Gordon on his last two trips here, placing 39th this time last year and 30th in the last race. Without the new baby on his mind, maybe he can get back where he once was. He was 9th quickest in the final practice with a speed of 190.210 on lap 5 of 11. He will also be starting in the 3rd position Sunday.
12- Elliot Sadler gets his name in the pot with a 18.0 average finish. Like Harvick and Martin, Sadler too has some bad finishes mixed in with great ones. This time last year he placed 6th. His last 6 races were 4th, 6th, 6th, 33rd, 6th and 39th. Sadler ran 26th in the final practice and will be starting 30th on Sunday.
TOP 12 SPEEDWAY DRIVERS:
1-Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 36 starts, 14.2 avg finish
2-David Ragan – 8 starts, 15.3 avg finish
3-Kevin Harvick – 31 starts, 15.3 avg finish
4-Jimmie Johnson – 28 starts, 15.4 avg finish
5-Kurt Busch – 32 starts, 15.4 avg finish
6-Tony Stewart – 40 starts, 15.5 avg finish
7-Jeff Gordon – 48 starts, 15.8 avg finish
8-Clint Bowyer – 12 starts, 17.4 avg finish
9-Jeff Burton- 48 starts, 17.6 avg finish
10-Mark Martin – 44 starts, 18.6 avg finish
11-Matt Kenseth – 36 starts, 18.7 avg finish
12-Bobby Labonte – 48 starts, 18.7 avg finish
Based on – Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Number of Races: 8
1-Tony Stewart 105.4
2-Kyle Busch 98.3
3-Ryan Newman 94.9
4-Jimmie Johnson 94.7
5-Jeff Gordon 93.7
6-Matt Kenseth 92.7
7-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 92.4
8-Kurt Busch 90.5
9-Clint Bowyer 86.9
10-Mark Martin 84.8
11-Kevin Harvick 83.8
12-Brian Vickers 82.3
13-Jeff Burton 82.0
14-Kasey Kahne 79.9
15-Jamie McMurray 79.1
16-Sam Hornish Jr. 78.1
17-Carl Edwards 77.8
18-Elliot Sadler 76.7
19-Martin Truex Jr. 74.5
20-Greg Biffle 74.4
These are drivers that have been on a hot streak in their last five races. In this case, the last five races for the 2008 season. If they could bottle up that momentum and carry it into this season, they could prove to be contenders for the Chase. Carl Edwards tops the chart with a 2.0 average finish in the last 5 ’08 season. His worst place was 4th and his average start was 8.6.
1-Carl Edwards 2.0 avg finish
2-Jimmie Johnson 6.8 avg finish
3-Kevin Harvick 7.2 avg finish
4-Denny Hamlin 8.6 avg finish
5-Clint Bowyer 10.0 avg finish
6-Jamie McMurray 10.8 avg finish
7-Greg Biffle 11.2 avg finish
8-Jeff Gordon 12.0 avg finish
9-Matt Kenseth 12.2 avg finish
10-David Ragan 13.2 avg finish
11-Kyle Busch 13.4 avg finish
12-Casey Mears 15.2 avg finish
13-Mark Martin 16.0 avg finish
14-Dale Earnhardt Jr. 16.0 avg finish
15-AJ Allmendinger 16.4 avg finish
Terry Labonte leads all drivers with the most laps run in the Daytona 500 at 4,996. After completing 4 laps he will hit the 5,000 lap mark. Only five drivers have won the Daytona 500 and the Cup championship in the same year. Lee Petty (1959), Cale Yarborough (1977), Richard Petty (1964, ’71, ’74 & ’79), Jeff Gordon (1997) and Jimmie Johnson (2006) On Sunday, Joey Lagano will become the youngest driver to start at the Daytona 500. The youngest driver before him, was Clark Dwyer, who was 19 in 1983. In the last five Daytona 500 races, 27.2 is the average number of lead changes. In 2007, there were 42 lead changes. The record is still 59 in 1974. Bill Elliot leads all active drivers with the most led laps at Daytona (616).
During practice, Ryan Newman had a right rear tire to explode, then owner/teammate Tony Stewart ran into him. Now they will both be forced to start Sunday in back-up cars. Stewart has already voiced his opinion on the tires in the past, now once again he finds himself in an interview poised to fire off his frustrations. Tony expressed his feelings freely in normal Stewart fashion on the tire wear this week.
“Same thing everybody’s been talking about all week, same stuff we always talk about every year – the failures that Goodyear has,” an angry Stewart said. “I think that’s part of their marketing campaign – the more we talk about it, the more press they get. But I think they forget it’s supposed to be in a good way, not a bad way.”
Goodyear had recalled eight tires Friday because three teams that had troubles with tires that had been manufactured on the same day. Goodyear’s racing general manager, Stu Grant, said all evidence pointed to a puncture.
“I’m sitting here with a backup car,” Stewart said. “We have a lot of work to do. I’m ticked right now. I’m not happy, I’m not cordial, I am not anything right now. And I shouldn’t be.
“If it was because two guys wrecked and it was a driver’s mistake, it’s one thing. But a manufacturer that has the sole deal here, they don’t have any competition and they can’t give us something to keep us from having problems like this. I don’t know. I’m just amazed at how much everybody kisses their b*** right now.”
“Don’t get them anywhere near me,” Stewart said. “Don’t bring them anywhere close. Don’t let them come close. I don’t want anything to do with them.”
Well, there you have it folks. All the important stats that I can give you for you to make an educated guess on your fantasy picks. I am torn between Dale Jr., Jeff Gordon and Johnson. If I had to pick one, I would probably lean toward Johnson, mainly cause of the note he ended on last year. This driver and crew chief have a certain chemistry you just don’t find in many teams. They should be a contender again this year. This race should be interesting to watch because it’s a new year, and everyone is starting fresh. It will be interesting to see what teams have up their sleeves and see how drivers will adjust in their new rides and a new season. The last seven Daytona races, have been won by seven different drivers.
Good luck and enjoy!
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