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Statistically Speaking

Coke Zero 400 Stats

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

This week’s race: Coke Zero 400
Traditional Name: Firecracker 400
Other Notable Names: Pepsi 400; Pepsi Firecracker 400

Daytona International Speedway is not the oldest track on the schedule, but it rivals Darlington Raceway and Martinsville Speedway for top billing in terms of grandeur. It was unique when it was built and even after the addition of Talladega SuperSpeedway, races on this track continue to hold a certain mystique.

The Daytona 500 is widely considered the Super Bowl of NASCAR even though it kicks off the year. The Firecracker 400 has always ended the first half of the season and started the second half—even during years when it is not exactly at the midway point. Since 1998, the summer race has been held at night and that adds to the excitement as the lacquered beasts shimmer on course. Notably, that first nighttime race was not held in July, but got pushed to October because of wild fires.

Daytona was repaved in 2010 and is only now beginning to develop some of the character that makes racing in tight packs increasingly difficult, but the real excitement-maker is the restrictor-plate that arbitrarily forces all the cars to run the same speed. Unable to break free of the draft, this creates 200-mph bumper-to-bumper traffic.

10 best drivers at Daytona

Over the past six races, these drivers have the best average finish on this track.

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 7.17
Career avg. finish: 13.1 in 31 attempts

Earnhardt is no longer the only Pied Piper of the plate tracks, but you would not know that by how he raced in the last two Daytona 500s. His victory last year was one of the most dramatic of the season and a third this spring added to his total of 12 top-fives in 31 starts.

2. Casey Mears
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 12.67
Career avg. finish: 22.4 in 24 attempts

Your eyes are not deceiving you. Mears not only has the second-best average finish at Daytona during the past six races, he has the longest active streak of top-10 results at four. Remarkably, four of his last six finishes have come with some crash damage on his car.

3. Denny Hamlin
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 14.50
Career avg. finish: 18.7 in 19 attempts

If Mears stumbles this week, Hamlin could take his place at the top of the leaderboard because he is the only other driver with top-10s in each of the past three races. He has not yet won on this track, but a second-place finish in the 2014 Daytona 500 put him perilously close.

4. Austin Dillon
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 14.75 (4 starts)
Career avg. finish: 14.8 in 4 attempts

Rookies are not supposed to excel on plate tracks, but there are often notable exceptions. Dillon is this week’s with a current, three-race streak of top-15s. His best effort during his career was a fifth that he scored in last year’s rain-shortened Coke Zero 400.

5. Jimmie Johnson
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 15.00
Career avg. finish: 17.5 in 27 attempts

Included in the past six races for Johnson are back-to-back victories in the 2013 season. Two of his last three races ended in top-fives as well, but he gets moved down the order because of a next-to-last finish in the 2014 Coke Zero 400 that was occasioned by a lap-20 accident.

6. Greg Biffle
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 15.17
Career avg. finish: 20.3 in 26 attempts

Biffle sits sixth on the six-race average finish chart, but that does not necessarily make him a good value in the summer. His last three Daytona 500s have all ended in top-10s, but his best Coke Zero 400 in that same span was a 17th in 2013.

7. Joey Logano
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 15.33
Career avg. finish: 18.3 in 13 attempts

It is amazing what a victory will do for a driver. In Logano’s case it practically locked him into the Chase from the first weekend of the 2015 season. His Daytona 500 win is also a big reason he is ranked seventh in the six-race averages.

8. Brad Keselowski
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 15.83
Career avg. finish: 23.5 in 13 attempts

Keselowski had back-to-back top-10s going in summer 2012/spring 2013. He recorded another top-five in the 2014 Daytona 500, but his last two efforts were marred by crash damage and engine failure. If he stumbles this week, he will fall out of the top 10, which makes him a questionable fantasy value.

9. Clint Bowyer
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 17.00
Career avg. finish: 15.5 in 19 attempts

While Keselowski seems to be dropping out of contention, Bowyer is heading in the right direction. Three of his last four Daytona efforts were successful with top-10 finishes and if not for a blown engine in the 2014 Daytona 500, he would be much higher on this list.

10. Ryan Newman
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 17.33
Career avg. finish: 20.9 in 27 attempts

Newman is batting 0.500 in regard to top-10s at Daytona during the past six races, but fantasy owners should not get excited just yet. None of those came in the 2014 or 2015 seasons and his last three efforts were marred by crash damage.

Others of Note

12. Kurt Busch
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 18.60 (5 starts)
Career avg. finish: 17.5 in 29 attempts

There is a lot to be said for a driver with a chip on his shoulder. Busch returns to Daytona after getting suspended just before this year’s Daytona 500. He wants to win in the worst possible way and this is not a track on which one wants to overdrive.

16. Kevin Harvick
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 20.33
Career avg. finish: 16.2 in 28 attempts

Based on his six-week average finish, Harvick would seem to be destined to struggle this week, but he has a couple of solid runs during that span including his runner-up in this year’s 500 and a third in the 2013 Coke Zero 400.

17. Jamie McMurray
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 20.50
Career avg. finish: 23.7 in 25 attempts

Half of McMurray’s last six attempts ended in top-15 finishes, but only one was a top-10. His seventh in the 2013 Coke Zero 400 is not enough to offset three other finishes outside the top 25.

22. Kasey Kahne
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 23.67
Career avg. finish: 19.4 in 23 attempts

The best news about Kahne’s ninth-place finish in this year’s Daytona 500 is that it came without any crash damage. That is the first time in the past 12 races that Kahne crossed under the checkers without a wrinkle on his car.

25. Martin Truex Jr.
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 24.67
Career avg. finish: 22.5 in 20 attempts

Back-to-back 40-something finishes in summer 2013 and spring 2014 insure that Truex will not be among the top-10 anytime soon, but he could still be a good value this week after finishing 15th in last year’s Coke Zero 400 and eighth in this season’s Daytona 500. 

 

Rank

Driver

3 Yr. Avg. Fin

Attempts

1.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

7.17

6

2.

Casey Mears

12.67

6

3.

Denny Hamlin

14.50

6

4.

Austin Dillon

            14.75

4

5.

Jimmie Johnson

15.00

6

6.

Greg Biffle

15.17

6

7.

Joey Logano

15.33

6

8.

Brad Keselowski

15.83

6

9.

Clint Bowyer

17.00

6

10.

Ryan Newman

17.33

6

 

11.

Danica Patrick

18.20

5

12.

Kurt Busch

18.60

5

13.

Bobby Labonte

18.83

6

14.

Jeff Gordon

19.17

6

15.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

20.00

5

16.

Kevin Harvick

20.33

6

17.

Jamie McMurray

20.50

6

18.

Aric Almirola

20.83

6

19.

Matt Kenseth

22.33

6

20.

Sam Hornish Jr.

22.50

2

21.

Kyle Busch

23.40

5

22.

Kasey Kahne

23.67

6

22.

Michael Annett

23.67

3

24.

Carl Edwards

24.17

6

25.

Martin Truex Jr.

24.67

6

26.

Paul Menard

25.17

6

27.

JJ Yeley

25.75

4

28.

David Ragan

26.00

6

29.

Tony Stewart

26.83

6

30.

David Gilliland

27.67

6

31.

Cole Whitt

28.00

3

31.

Alex Bowman

28.00

3

33.

Landon Cassill

28.40

5

34.

Trevor Bayne

29.17

6

35.

Michael McDowell

29.50

6

36.

Justin Allgaier

29.67

3

37.

AJ Allmendinger

31.00

5

38.

Josh Wise

33.17

6

39.

Brian Scott

34.50

2

40.

Kyle Larson

36.00

3

 

Exercise Caution

Most caution flags: 16, 2011 Daytona 500
Fewest caution flags: 0 (six times), 1962 Daytona 500, 1961 Firecracker 250, 1961 Daytona 500, 1960 Firecracker 250, 1959 Firecracker 250, 1959 Daytona 500
Average number of caution flags per race: 4.7

Final Caution, last five races:
February 2015: 203 of 203 (on white-flag lap): 8-car accident on backstretch (Jeff Gordon, Austin Dillon, Kyle Busch, AJ Allmendinger, Reed Sorenson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Kyle Larson), third-consecutive Daytona race that ended under caution.
July 2014: lap 110 of 112: rain, shortened race from 160 laps
February 2014: lap 200 of 200: six-car accident on final lap (Reed Sorenson, Carl Edwards, AJ Allmendinger, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, and Kevin Harvick)
July 2013: lap 157 of 161 (to set up a green-white-checker): three-car accident (Kasey Kahne, Marcos Ambrose, and Jimmie Johnson). Johnson survived to win the race.
February 2013: lap 193 of 200 (debris)

Most caution laps: 60 (two times): 2011 Daytona 500, 1968 Daytona 500
Fewest caution laps: 0 (six times), 1962 Daytona 500, 1961 Firecracker 250, 1961 Daytona 500, 1960 Firecracker 250, 1959 Firecracker 250, 1959 Daytona 500
Average number of caution laps per race: 23.3

Leading the way

Most leaders: 25, 2011 Coke Zero 400
Fewest leaders: 3 (3 times), 1972 Daytona 500, 1962 Firecracker 250, 1960 Firecracker 250
Average number of leaders: 8.5

Most lead changes: 74, 2011 Daytona 500
Fewest lead changes: 6 (two times), 2002 Pepsi 400, 1964 Daytona 500
Average number of lead changes: 22.6

Victory Lane

Last five winners (starting position):
February 2015: Joey Logano (fifth)
July 2014: Aric Almirola (15th)
February 2014: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (ninth)
July 2013: Jimmie Johnson (eighth)
February 2013: Jimmie Johnson (ninth)

Worst starting position for race winner: 42nd, Tony Stewart: 2012 Coke Zero 400

A race at Daytona has been won by the pole sitter 17 times and from the front row 31 times in 136 races.

Active winners at Daytona:
Jeff Gordon: 6
Tony Stewart: 4
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 3
Jimmie Johnson: 3
Michael Waltrip: 3
Kevin Harvick: 2
Matt Kenseth: 2
Jamie McMurray: 2
Aric Almirola: 1
Trevor Bayne: 1
Greg Biffle: 1
Kyle Busch: 1
Ryan Newman: 1
David Ragan: 1
Joey Logano: 1

Top-10 All-time Winners:
Richard Petty: 10
Cale Yarborough: 8
Bobby Allison: 6
Jeff Gordon: 6
David Pearson: 6
Bill Elliott: 4
Dale Jarrett: 4
Fireball Roberts: 4
Tony Stewart: 4
Dale Earnhardt Sr.: 3
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 3
AJ Foyt: 3
Jimmie Johnson: 3
Sterling Marlin: 3
Michael Waltrip: 3

Top 10 on all superspeedway all time:
Dale Earnhardt: 13
Jeff Gordon: 12
Cale Yarborough: 12
Richard Petty: 12
David Pearson: 11
Bobby Allison: 10
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 9
Fireball Roberts: 7
Dale Jarrett: 6
Bill Elliott: 6
Buddy Baker: 6

Recent races won from the pole:
Kevin Harvick, 2010 Coke Zero 400*
Tony Stewart, 2009 Coke Zero 400*
Tony Stewart, 2005 Pepsi 400
Jeff Gordon, 2004 Pepsi 400
Dale Jarrett, 2000 Daytona 500
Jeff Gordon, 1999 Daytona 500
Bill Elliott, 1987 Daytona 500
Bill Elliott, 1985 Daytona 500
Cale Yarborough, 1984 Daytona 500
Cale Yarborough, 1981 Firecracker 400

First time winners at Daytona:
Aric Almirola, 2014 Coke Zero 400
David Ragan, 2011 Coke Zero 400
Trevor Bayne, 2011 Daytona 500
Greg Biffle, 2003 Pepsi 400
Michael Waltrip, 2001 Daytona 500
John Andretti, 1997 Pepsi 400
Jimmy Spencer, 1994 Pepsi 400
Sterling Marlin, 1994 Daytona 500
Derrike Cope, 1990 Daytona 500
Greg Sacks, 1985 Pepsi Firecracker 400
Pete Hamilton, 1970 Daytona 500
Mario Andretti, 1967 Daytona 500
Sam McQuagg, 1966 Firecracker 400
A J Foyt, 1964 Firecracker 400
Tiny Lund, 1963 Daytona 500

Running at the End

The following active drivers have been running at the end of every Daytona race they started:
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (6)
Austin Dillon (4)
Alex Bowman (2)
Brendan Gaughan (2)
Brian Scott (1)

Michael Annett crashed out of the first race he started in 2014, but has been running at the end of the last two.

On the other side of the equation, Justin Allgaier has crashed out of all three races he started.

Great Starts

Active drivers with top-10s in their first start on this track:
Trevor Bayne: first (2011)
David Ragan: fifth (2007)
Jeff Gordon: fifth (both 1993 races)
Clint Bowyer: sixth (2006)
Ryan Newman: seventh (2002)
David Gilliland: eighth (2007)
Matt Kenseth: 10th (2000)

Current Streaks

At Daytona
Casey Mears, four top-10s
Denny Hamlin, three top-10s
Clint Bowyer, two top-10s

On superspeedways
Kevin Harvick, three top-10s
Dale Earnhardt Jr., two top-fives
Jimmie Johnson, two top-fives
Denny Hamlin, two top-10s
Martin Truex Jr., two top-10s

In 2015
Kurt Busch, three top-fives
Joey Logano, three top-fives
Dale Earnhardt Jr., two top-10s
Clint Bowyer, two top-10s

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.