Statistically Speaking

Daytona 500 Stats

Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

This week’s race: Daytona 500
Traditional Name: Daytona 500
Other Notable Names: None

Everyone wants to win the Daytona 500.

I mean EVERYONE wants to win the Daytona 500 and since this is the first race of the year, most of the drivers in the field are not overly concerned about points. They will take chances at this stage of the season they might not otherwise and that occasionally leads to some very intense racing. Mistakes turn into "Big One" crashes, but even if a driver survives, he can get shuffled to the back in a hurry.

The Can Am Duels in Daytona showed both the best and worst of restrictor-plate racing. Near the beginning of the second duel, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch executed a pass for the lead that was a thing of beauty. Kenseth had debris on the nose of his No. 20 and needed to follow the No. 18 to get rid of it. Carl Edwards held the field at bay while those two swapped positions and the Gibbs’ guys maintained the lead.

Near the end of that run, the worst came out. Needing to draft past Busch, Jamie McMurray and Jimmie Johnson thought they had hooked up in a draft, but a block by the No. 1 on the 48 caused a six-car pileup. Daytona often goes from the sublime to the ridiculous and it can do so in a hurry. That makes it difficult to pick a top driver this week. Spread the wealth around.

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: 4.83
Career avg. finish: 12.7 in 32 attempts

Since the start of the 2013 season, Earnhardt has been as close to perfect at Daytona as possible. He finished worse than eighth only one time and that was a 14th in the rain-shortened 2014 Coke Zero 400. Look for another top-10 and a shot at Victory Lane.

2. Jimmie Johnson
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 9.33
Career avg. finish: 16.9 in 28 attempts

One thinks of Johnson as being primarily a strong unrestricted, intermediate speedway racer, but when he stays out of trouble on the plate tracks he is capable of great things. He crashed in the summer 2014 race, but swept the top five—with two wins—in his remaining five races since 2012.  

3. Denny Hamlin
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 10.83
Career avg. finish: 18.0 in 20 attempts

Many experts think this is going to be Hamlin’s year to win the Daytona 500. Win three top-fives in his most recent four races, they may be correct, but he finished that well only once in the eight races that preceded his mini-streak.

4. Casey Mears (tied with Smith)
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 11.50
Career avg. finish: 21.9 in 25 attempts

Mears entered last year’s Coke Zero 400 with a four-race streak of top-10s to his credit and nearly extended it with an 11th. His average is negatively skewed by a 29th in the 2013 Daytona 500 and once that ages out, he could move up the grid.

4. Regan Smith (tied with Mears)
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 11.50 (2 starts)
Career avg. finish: 25.2 in 13 attempts

Smith has run in only two races during the past three years and that skews his average finish. Then again, he is a blank slate with a seventh in the 2013 Daytona and a 16th last year, so fantasy owners can start him with at least a little confidence.

6. Kurt Busch
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 12.60
Career avg. finish: 17.1 in 30 attempts

Busch has as many highs as lows in his past six races, but he is trending in the right direction. Two of his three top-10s came last year and that was a sweep of the top-five.

7. Austin Dillon
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 13.20 (five starts)
Career avg. finish: 13.2 in 5 attempts

Since running full time in the Cup series, Dillon has swept the top 15. If he manages another top-10 this week, he will be one of the most popular picks once the series returns to this track in July.

8. Clint Bowyer
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 13.83
Career avg. finish: 15.2 in 20 attempts

Bowyer certainly has the skill to run with the leaders as his position in the top 10 attests. He has not shown a lot of speed in the Daytona 500 preliminaries, however, and should be avoided this week. The HScott Motorsports entry is not up to the challenge.

9. Greg Biffle
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 15.00
Career avg. finish: 23.3 in 27 attempts

Last year, Roush-Fenway Racing struggled every place they competed but Biffle was able to score a top-10 at Daytona in the 500. If he gets the right draft this year he could repeat even though a top-five seems unlikely. The last time he finished that well on this track was in 2012.

10. Brian Vickers
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 16.00 (2 starts)
Career avg. finish: 21.7 in 17 attempts

Vickers could be a little rusty since he has run so few restrictor-plate, superspeedway races in the past three years. The good news is that the last time he was at Daytona, he scored a second for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2014.

Others of Note

11. Kevin Harvick
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 17.17
Career avg. finish: 15.8 in 29 attempts

Harvick narrowly misses the top-10 cut, but bear in mind that two of the drivers listed above him started only two races in the past three years. Last season, Harvick was exceptionally strong at Daytona with a sweep of the top five.

17. Danica Patrick
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 21.00
Career avg. finish: 23.4 in 7 attempts

Patrick showed a lot of promise in her rookie Daytona 500 by winning the pole and finishing eighth. She not only fell back through the field that day, but has done so in every race since then. Starting 16th this week, she won’t be a great value in 2016 either.

19. Michael Waltrip
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 22.60
Career avg. finish: 21.5 in 55 attempts

No one doubts Waltrip’s ability to drive at Daytona, but he has been crash prone in recent events. His last three tries on this track ended well outside the top 15 with damage to his car.

37. Kyle Larson
Last six races average finish at Daytona: 22.60
Career avg. finish: 21.5 in 55 attempts

Larson will eventually win a Cup race, but it probably won’t come at Daytona. In four previous starts there, he has crashed every time and has a best result of 34th. 

 

Rank

Driver

3 Yr Avg Fin

Attempts

1.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

4.83

6

2.

Jimmie Johnson

9.33

6

3.

Denny Hamlin

10.83

6

4.

Casey Mears

11.50

6

4.

Regan Smith

11.50

2

6.

Kurt Busch

12.60

6

7.

Austin Dillon

13.20

5

8.

Clint Bowyer

13.83

6

9.

Greg Biffle

15.00

6

10.

Brian Vickers

16.00

2

 

11.

Kevin Harvick

17.17

6

12.

Ryan Newman

17.83

6

13.

Joey Logano

18.33

6

14.

Brad Keselowski

19.33

6

15.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

19.83

6

16.

Jamie McMurray

20.83

6

17.

Danica Patrick

21.00

6

18.

Kyle Busch

22.00

6

19.

Michael Waltrip

22.60

5

20.

Aric Almirola

23.33

6

21.

David Ragan

23.67

6

22.

Bobby Labonte

24.33

6

23.

Landon Cassill

24.60

5

24.

Paul Menard

25.50

6

25.

Matt Kenseth

25.67

6

26.

Trevor Bayne

26.17

6

27.

Michael McDowell

26.80

5

28.

Reed Sorenson

27.00

3

28.

Michael Annett

27.00

4

30.

Cole Whitt

27.25

4

31.

Kasey Kahne

27.83

6

32.

Martin Truex Jr.

28.17

6

33.

AJ Allmendinger

29.00

5

34.

David Gilliland

29.17

6

35.

Carl Edwards

30.00

6

36.

Josh Wise

32.00

6

37.

Kyle Larson

36.75

4

38.

Brian Scott

37.00

3

Drivers with one start

 

Matt DiBenedetto

26.00

1

 

Ty Dillon

28.00

1

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:
July 2015: 156 of 160: 2-car accident on backstretch (Jamie McMurray and Sam Hornish Jr.)
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.

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: 23.4

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: 22.2

Victory Lane

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

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

A race at Daytona has been won by the pole sitter 18 times and from the front row 32 times in 137 races.

Active winners at Daytona:
Tony Stewart: 4
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 4
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
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 4
Bill Elliott: 4
Dale Jarrett: 4
Fireball Roberts: 4
Tony Stewart: 4

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

Recent races won from the pole:
Dale Earnhardt Jr., 2015 Coke Zero 400
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. (7)
Austin Dillon (5)
Matt DiBenedetto (1)
Ty Dillon (1)

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

Great Starts

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

Current Streaks

At Daytona
Denny Hamlin, four top-10s
Clint Bowyer, three top-10s
Dale Earnhardt Jr., two top-fives
Kurt Busch, two top-fives
Jimmie Johnson, two top-fives
Kevin Harvick, two top-fives

On superspeedways
Dale Earnhardt Jr., four top-fives
Kurt Busch, two top-10s
Clint Bowyer, two top-10s

In 2015
Kyle Busch, four top-fives
Kevin Harvick, four top-10s
Brad Keselowski, three top-10s
Kurt Busch, three top-10s
Jimmie Johnson, three top-10s  
Joey Logano, two top-fives
Denny Hamlin, two top-10s

Jeff Gordon ended his career on a high note with seven top-10s

 


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