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Marlin leads group hoping to save fairgrounds track in Nashville
Waltrip, Curb among investors ready to renovate former NASCAR short track
How does a doll fit into Darlington's history?
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- NASCAR competitors have driven with good luck charms for probably as long the sanctioning body has been in existence. A rabbit's foot here, a four-leaf clover there, lucky shoes for some, specific pre-race rituals for others. The lucky penny that rode with Dale Earnhardt to his lone victory in the Daytona 500 in 1998 can still be found glued to the dash of the familiar black No. 3 Chevrolet. After winning back-to-back Daytona 500 titles in 1994-95, former driver Sterling Marlin refused to vary from his pre-race routine leading up to the season-opening event. Marlin stayed in the same hotel, in the same room, wore the same T-shirt under his uniform and dined on the same pre-race meal -- a bologna sandwich and soft drink. More of an early marketing stunt than an attempt to reverse his fortunes on the race track, former series champion Tim Flock raced with a monkey named Jocko Flocko riding shotgun for several races in 1953. Which brings us to this weekend's Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (Sunday, 7 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), and the Stock Car Racing Museum located on the grounds of the historic track. Among the several cars on display inside the museum is the race-winning entry from the very first Southern 500 held in 1950. Johnny Mantz, an open-wheel racer who made just 12 NASCAR starts between '50-'56, piloted the black No. 98 Plymouth. Burlington, North Carolina, businessman Hubert Westmoreland was the car's owner. Riding along with Mantz in the car that Labor Day was a child's doll that belonged to the daughter of Alvin Hawkins, a race promoter and flagman. According to reports, the team wanted to remove the doll before the start of the race -- how it got in there in the first place isn't known -- but Lottie Westmoreland, Hubert's wife, convinced them to leave it in the car for good luck. Mantz, in just his third NASCAR start, won by nine laps in a 75-car field that included future Hall of Famers Fireball Roberts, Lee Petty, Cotton Owens and Flock. The doll was taken out and placed in storage following the race, where it stayed forgotten for several years. When track officials donated the car to the museum in 1965, the story of the doll resurfaced; it was located and returned to its rightful place inside the car where it has remained all these years. An arm is missing and the shoes have disappeared as well. Time has taken its toll, understandable given her age. Sixty-five years after Darlington Raceway ushered in a new era in NASCAR and Johnny Mantz roared to a surprising victory, a child's toy is a silent reminder of yesterday.
Bobby Isaac takes different path to NASCAR Hall
RELATED: See the rings, jackets for the Class of 2016 Of the five newest members inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the career of the late Bobby Isaac was perhaps the most unusual. Isaac was inducted Saturday, along with fellow drivers Terry Labonte , Jerry Cook, Curtis Turner and track owner Bruton Smith. Isaac, who died in 1977 after suffering a heart attack, won the NASCAR premier series championship in 1970, driving for team owner Nord Krauskopf and with the help of noted crew chief Harry Hyde. It was a perfect combination of talent and ingenuity -- the team won 31 races during a three-year span from 1968-70. Isaac wound up with 37 victories in a career that spanned just 15 years at the top level. He won 49 poles, a mark that today remains 10th best for the series. WATCH THE SPEECHES: Isaac's family " Jerry Cook " Curtis Turner's daughter " Bruton Smith " Labonte's speech According to reports, he also abruptly quit racing for a time when, in the middle of an event, he heard a voice tell him to get out of the car. It's an often-told story, particularly when NASCAR's top series prepares to head to Talladega Superspeedway , site of Isaac's early departure. "Well, obviously I wasn't there with him in the car when that happened," Patsy Isaac, who was married to the driver at the time, said Saturday following his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. "But I will tell you that as soon as he got out of the car and was able to get to a telephone, because we didn't have cell phones then, he called me and he repeated to me exactly what happened to him in the car. "And he said, a voice told him that he needed to get out of the car, and so he radioed to (owner) Bud Moore. He said, 'find somebody to fill in the car. I've got to get out.'" The race was the Talladega 500, the 20th stop of the '73 season and the second of two annual races at the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Isaac was three years removed from his championship, and had been hired to drive owner Moore's No. 15 Ford. He had finished second to Richard Petty in that year's Daytona 500 , and placed in the top 10 in five other races. The race seemed cursed from the outset -- fellow Catawba County native Larry Smith was killed when his Mercury struck the wall barely 15 laps into the event. With the race nearly halfway complete, Isaac pulled into the pits during a caution period and unexpectedly climbed out of the car. Coo Coo Marlin , father of two-time Daytona 500 winner Sterling Marlin , relieved Isaac and eventually finished 13th. Dick Brooks won the race. It was the only premier series victory of Brooks’ career. "I don't know what that experience was," Patsy Isaac said of her husband's incident. "I don't know if he felt it, it was an intuition or if it was actually a verbal voice. I don't know that, but I know that it impacted him enough that he was not going to stay in the race car." What she does know, though, is what she told Isaac when he called. "I said, 'come home.' That was fine with me," she said. "He had always said that it was not because someone had gotten killed earlier in the race, and that person was from Catawba County, and he knew them. That's all I can tell you is what he told me." Isaac attempted to resume his racing career the following year although he made just 19 premier series starts during the next three seasons. Eventually, he turned his attention to the local short tracks where he had begun his racing career. On August 13, 1977, he was competing in a Late Model Sportsman event at Hickory Speedway when he pulled into the pits, climbed from his car and collapsed. Transported to a local hospital, Isaac, 45, died the following morning.
NASCAR.com's 2016 Daytona 500 predictions
Going into 2016's season opener, members of the NASCAR.com editorial team make predictions for who will head to Victory Lane for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway . Zack Albert Dale Earnhardt Jr .: Restrictor-plate racing is often finicky, but it's hard to go against a proven Daytona-winning driver with a stout car that goes where he points it. Kenny Bruce Dale Earnhardt Jr .: As much as I'd like to see a surprise winner, inside information tells me it's Dale Jr.'s to lose. Holly Cain Denny Hamlin : He is overdue in this race, at a place he races so expertly. Pat DeCola Kyle Busch : 'Rowdy' will start 2016 the way he closed out 2015 -- on top. His dominant showing in the second Can-Am Duel was no fluke, and he'll pick up his second win of Speedweeks on Sunday. RJ Kraft Denny Hamlin : Hard to pick against Dale Jr., but I will. Hamlin has had the speed during Speedweeks, won the Sprint Unlimited and has four straight top-six finishes at Daytona. Hamlin will snap JGR's 23-year drought in the Daytona 500 and give Toyota its first win in the "Great American Race." Maggie MacKenzie Joey Logano : The talk at the track has Dale Jr. and his "Amelia" car winning, but the 2015 Daytona 500 champ shouldn't be forgotten. Logano's been posting top speeds all week as he continues the strong momentum from his dominant '15 season. Brad Norman Joey Logano : "Sliced Bread" becomes the first back-to-back Daytona 500 winner since Sterling Marlin (1994-95), overpowering those Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas and, yes, even race favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr . Jessica Ruffin Dale Earnhardt Jr .: Having won half of the speedway races last season, Junior's always a top pick heading into a plate event. Tack on his Duel win Thursday and his love for his car, and you've got a recipe for Victory Lane. Taylor Starer Kyle Busch : Coming off the high of being the 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion, Kyle Busch is ready to add another accomplishment to his resume: a Daytona 500 win. The Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have all looked strong during Speedweeks, but Busch will be the one who brings Toyota its first "Great American Race" victory. Kathy Sheldon Joey Logano : Amelia's a great car, but the No. 22 almost had something for Dale Jr.'s speedy ride in the Can-Am Duels. Something crazy always happens at Daytona, and the defending winner looks like he can sneak through the trouble spots again. George Winkler Ryan Blaney : Let's pick the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate to pull off the upset for the Wood Brothers. Fellow Fords in the Team Penske camp can give him the push he needs to make like Trevor Bayne and shock the world.
Forever a Daytona 500 champ, Logano hungry for more
RELATED: See all the winners of the 'Great American Race' DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – When Joey Logano captured the 2015 Daytona 500 , he became the 36th driver to win NASCAR's biggest race. It is the Sprint Cup Series' signature event, always has been and likely always will be. Win a Daytona 500 trophy and it's something race fans will talk about for years. Who finished second in last year's race? Was it Kevin Harvick ? Dale Earnhardt Jr .? Tony Stewart or Matt Kenseth ? Few folks probably recall. But the winner? Sure. The 58th running of what broadcaster Ken Squier aptly described as the "Great American Race" is Sunday at Daytona International Speedway (1 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "It's cool; it sounds good when they introduce you like that," Logano, driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, said Tuesday during Media Day activities. "I have enjoyed it. And I am excited to get our car out of the museum and see our car again." Winning Daytona 500 entries are put on display at DIS for one year. Teams retrieve them prior to the start of the following season. The confetti hasn't been wiped away, and dents and dings are still there. RELATED: Oh, the places Daytona's winning cars go Giving up the car was a minor nuisance, but more than a fair trade for capturing a Daytona 500 title, according to the recipient of last season's Harley J. Earl Trophy. But what’s done is done and the sport moves forward. "What won last year is not going to win this year, whether it is what you do inside the car or the setup of the car," said Logano, a 14-time winner in the series. "It's because the sport is always evolving and getting better. [Winning the 500] is great but it [happened] last year, and we have to keep looking forward." Drivers are creatures of habit, most sticking to daily routines that have been constructed out of necessity. Some have taken it a bit further, mimicking past actions that led up to particular successes, eating the same meals, traveling the same routes to and from the track, or wearing the same clothing. "I don't do any of that," Logano said. "I have tried that stuff before because you will try anything to win a race, but it doesn't work. It is kind of disgusting if you start wearing the same underwear and stuff like that. It gets nasty pretty quick." He also said he doesn't remember what he did before particular wins, including last season's Daytona 500 . "But I wouldn’t do it anyway," he said. "To me, if I am thinking about a … sandwich and not what I am doing on the race track then I believe I'm doing it the wrong way." Ryan Newman won the Daytona 500 in 2008 while also driving for Team Penske . The 17-time race winner, now with Richard Childress Racing , said winning the 500 "changes people's impressions of who you are." "It's like having the ultimate hard card (credential) walking around Daytona," Newman said. "It doesn't change how I do things, what I do or how I think. But I think it changes people's impressions of me in a good way, which is what you want." That his father, Greg, was in the spotter's stand for his victory, he said, "made it ultra-sweet." This Sunday, Logano will attempt to become just the 12th driver to win multiple Daytona 500 titles, and join a list that consists of: seven-time winner Richard Petty; four-time winner Cale Yarborough; three-time winners Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett and Jeff Gordon ; two-time winners Bill Elliott , Sterling Marlin , Michael Waltrip , Matt Kenseth , Jimmie Johnson ; and Dale Earnhardt Jr . RELATED: See all the drivers with multiple wins Winning a Daytona 500 doesn't necessarily make going after a second one any easier or less stressful. "Race car drivers sort of live in the moment," said Waltrip, who won the Daytona 500 in 2001 and '03. "That type of thing (multiple wins) … is for later in life. You get to be 40 years old and you haven't won one yet and you start thinking about winning a Daytona 500 . Then it becomes more of a topic in your brain and the fact that you’re going to have to deal with not having one, possibly. "Joey's more worried about winning another one and the championship. This is just a race he knows he can win and that's exactly the way he's approaching it, in my opinion. Sure, he'd love to have another Daytona 500 trophy, but it's because that’s this (next) race. I'm pretty sure he believes he's going to have many, many more chances to win this race again.” Logano placed 12th in last Sunday's single-car qualifying. His official starting position won't be determined until after Thursday's Can-Am Duel qualifying races (first duel starts at 7 p.m. ET, FS1). A year ago, he started fifth in the Daytona 500 and finished trailing no one. RELATED: Full lineups for the Duels "It is such a big race to be a part of," he said. "Winning it is incredible. It is a hard feeling to explain. … Even a year later, I still can't put it into words. "I was just screaming on the radio and that is probably still the best way to explain it now."
FOX Sports reveals special Daytona programming
FS1 wraps its first evening of Daytona coverage with a special programming block on Friday, Feb. 12 , opening day at Daytona Speedweeks, offering race fans a trio of NASCAR specials, capped one week later by the third installment of the groundbreaking, crowd-sourced documentary 100,000 CAMERAS: DAYTONA 500 ( Saturday, Feb. 27 at 6:30 PM ET). Following FS1's live coverage of the first glimpse of cars on the track at Daytona International Speedway during NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES PRACTICE (beginning at 5:00 PM ET on Feb. 12), the network’s Daytona specials, produced by NASCAR Productions, include: UNTOLD STORIES: DAYTONA The one-hour UNTOLD STORIES: DAYTONA offers a fresh perspective and details on several pivotal stories in the history of NASCAR at Daytona International Speedway , including: the 1994 Daytona 500 and Sterling Marlin going to Victory Lane for the first time in 17 years; racing icon Mario Andretti and the obstacles he overcame to win the 1967 Daytona 500 ; the infamous "Aero Wars" that pitted Ford against Chrysler in 1969-1971; the legend of Smokey Yunick, the colorful mechanic, car owner and innovator from Daytona; and Tiny Lund's story at the 1963 Daytona 500 , when he went from outsider to hero, 500 champion and Medal of Valor recipient. UNTOLD STORIES: DAYTONA premieres Friday, Feb. 12 at 7:30 PM ET on FS1 following the network’s live coverage of SPRINT UNLIMITED final practice. NASCAR RACE CLASSIC: 1993 DAYTONA 500 NASCAR RACE CLASSIC: 1993 DAYTONA 500, hosted by Dale Earnhardt Jr ., airs on FS1 on Friday, Feb. 12 at 8:30 PM ET, featuring a 30-minute, cut-down version of the 1993 edition of the "Great American Race" and supplemented with interesting "pop-up trivia" facts regarding the race and pop culture at that time. The legendary 1993 race marked FOX NASCAR analyst Jeff Gordon 's first DAYTONA 500. Dale Jarrett held off Dale Earnhardt Sr. for the win while his father, Ned Jarrett, called the victory from the television broadcast booth. BEYOND THE WHEEL: SHORT FILM SERIES SPECIAL BEYOND THE WHEEL, a 90-minute special comprised of four short documentaries, offers an inside look at some of the sport's most interesting traditions and fascinating historical characters. Airing at 9:00 PM ET, the films focus on the stories of Robbie Allison, son of former NASCAR driver Davey Allison, short track legend Dick Trickle, the iconic trophy girls and their legacy, and the reunion of journalist Tom Wolfe and Junior Johnson on the 50th anniversary of Wolfe’s landmark Esquire article. NASCAR RACE HUB SPECIAL NASCAR RACE HUB SPECIAL: DAYTONA RISING highlights the new features and innovations of the revitalized Daytona International Speedway while also detailing the track’s rich history with NASCAR. Premiering on Thursday, Jan. 28 at 5:00 PM ET, the special gives fans an inside look at the Daytona Rising project through interviews with Lesa France Kennedy, track president Joie Chitwood III and the architect behind the mega-structure set to host its first race of the NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES season on Feb. 13. 100,000 CAMERAS: DAYTONA 500 100,000 CAMERAS: DAYTONA 500 premieres on FS1 on Saturday, Feb. 27 (6:30 PM ET) following the network’s live coverage of the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES race from Atlanta Motor Speedway . This 30-minute special, the franchise’s third, weaves together fan and driver-generated video to tell the story of the 2016 DAYTONA 500, the first “Great American Race” held at Daytona Rising, from every conceivable angle, regardless of location. The crowd-sourced documentary captures the ‘life in a day of NASCAR’ and how the sport connects people and communities at the track and around the world. Fans across the world are invited to share their DAYTONA 500 story by using cameras and mobile devices to capture the race, as well as the hours preceding and following it, whether from Daytona’s stadium, on a road trip to the track, while tailgating or watching from home or a neighborhood bar. Using the hashtags #100KCams and #NASCAR, fans simply upload videos to their social media accounts (Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Facebook or YouTube) during or immediately following the race. The high-energy special also features additional and specialty camera angles and content not seen in the live FOX broadcast of the DAYTONA 500 ( Sunday, Feb. 21 ), as well as driver and team radio scanner sound. Fans shooting video using a cell phone are encouraged to shoot horizontally for best results. For more tips and information on how to take and submit video, please visit www.foxsports.com/100KCams . FS1 and NASCAR Productions premiered the first two editions of the cutting-edge 100,000 CAMERAS to critical acclaim following the 2014 NASCAR SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE and the May 2015 race at Talladega Superspeedway . FOX Sports kicks off the 2016 NASCAR season by offering nearly 100 hours of multi-network, multi-platform coverage from Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway , culminating with live coverage of the DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, Feb. 21 live on FOX with pre-race coverage on FOX NASCAR SUNDAY (12:00 PM ET).
Stats advance: Analyzing the Daytona 500
Breaking down the numbers ahead of the season-opening race Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-- Below is a statistical look at some of the top performers at Daytona International Speedway, including both the Daytona 500 and the annual July race. Daytona International Speedway Data Race #: 1 of 36 (2-22-15) Track Size : 2.5 miles Race Length: 500 miles (200 laps) Banking/Corners : 31 degrees Banking/Straights : 3 degrees Banking/Tri-Oval : 18 degrees Top 10 Driver Ratings at Daytona Kyle Busch 96.2 Matt Kenseth 91.6 Kurt Busch 90.5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 90.3 Tony Stewart 87.9 Jeff Gordon 87.1 Jimmie Johnson 87.0 Denny Hamlin 86.4 Clint Bowyer 83.7 Joey Logano 82.5 Note: Driver Ratings are compiled from 2005-2014 races (18 total) at Daytona (active drivers only). Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Austin Dillon (196.019 mph, 45.914 seconds) 2014 race winner : Dale Earnhardt Jr. (145.290 mph , 2-23-14) Qualifying record : Bill Elliott (210.364 mph, 42.783 secs. 2-9-87) Race record : Buddy Baker (177.602 mph, 2-17-80) Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota) · Three top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 15.9 · Driver Rating of 83.7, ninth-best · 78 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.828 mph, second-fastest Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · 11 top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 17.5 · Average Running Position of 15.8, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 90.5, third-best · 3,864 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · 2,161 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9%), fifth-most · 2,724 Quality Passes, third-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Crispy Toyota) · One win, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 19.1 · Series-best Average Running Position of 12.8 · Series-best Driver Rating of 96.2 · 85 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.827 mph, third-fastest · Series-high 2,488 Laps in the Top 15 (70.1%) · Series-high 2,869 Quality Passes Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) · Three wins, 11 top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.4 · Average Running Position of 14.6, third-best · Driver Rating of 90.3, fourth-best · Series-high 87 Fastest Laps Run · 4,108 Green Flag Passes, second-most · 2,279 Laps in the Top 15 (64.2%), second-most · 2,772 Quality Passes, second-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet) · Six wins, 13 top fives, 20 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 16.2 · Average Running Position of 14.8, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 87.1, sixth-best · 3,818 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · 2,074 Laps in the Top 15 (58.4%), sixth-most · 2,407 Quality Passes, ninth-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota) · Three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 19.6 · Average Running Position of 15.8, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 86.4, eighth-best · 81 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.765 mph, sixth-fastest · 1,703 Laps in the Top 15 (53.5%), 12th-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Three wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 18.0 · Average Running Position of 14.9, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 87.0, seventh-best · 2,214 Laps in the Top 15 (62.4%), fourth-most · 2,425 Quality Passes, eighth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet) · Two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 19.9 · Average Running Position of 17.0, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 82.2, 12th-best · 71 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · 4,093 Green Flag Passes, third-most · 1,818 Laps in the Top 15 (51.2%), 10th-most · 2,446 Quality Passes, seventh-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Two wins, six top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.2 · Average Running Position of 14.4, second-best · Driver Rating of 91.6, second-best · 78 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 2,247 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3%), third-most · 2,473 Quality Passes, sixth-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Two top fives, three top 10s · Average finish of 19.8 · Average Running Position of 17.5, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 82.5, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 189.750 mph, seventh-fastest Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) · Four wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.8 · Average Running Position of 17.4, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 87.9, fifth-best · 76 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,917 Laps in the Top 15 (54.0%), seventh-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final 2014 Top 16 at Daytona International Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 27 1 2 6 11 3 16.7 79.9 2 Ryan Newman 26 0 1 4 6 5 20.3 79.6 3 Denny Hamlin 18 0 0 3 4 1 19.6 86.4 4 Joey Logano 12 0 0 2 3 2 19.8 82.5 5 Brad Keselowski 11 0 0 2 3 3 20.0 75.4 6 Jeff Gordon 44 3 6 13 20 6 16.2 87.1 7 Matt Kenseth 30 1 2 6 14 5 17.2 91.6 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 30 1 3 11 17 3 13.4 90.3 9 Carl Edwards 20 1 0 4 8 2 19.1 79.8 10 Kyle Busch 20 1 1 5 6 5 19.1 96.2 11 Jimmie Johnson 26 2 3 9 12 6 18.0 87.0 12 Kurt Busch 28 0 0 11 14 1 17.5 90.5 13 AJ Allmendinger 11 0 0 1 2 2 26.3 61.1 14 Greg Biffle 24 1 1 3 7 3 19.6 81.3 15 Kasey Kahne 22 0 0 2 7 5 19.9 82.2 16 Aric Almirola 7 0 1 1 1 3 24.7 72.9 Note: Driver Rating from races at Daytona International Speedway from 2005-2014. Daytona 500 Tidbits · The 2015 edition will be the 57th running of the Daytona 500. · Although the first Daytona 500 was held in 1959, it has been the season-opener only since 1982. · 530 drivers have competed in at least one Daytona 500; 314 in more than one. · 35 drivers have won a Daytona 500. · Youngest Daytona 500 winner: Trevor Bayne (02/20/2011 - 20 years, 0 months, 1 days) · Oldest Daytona 500 winner: Bobby Allison (02/14/1988 - 50 years, 2 months, 11 days) · 11 drivers have won more than one Daytona 500, led by Richard Petty with seven victories. · The 11 drivers who have won the Daytona 500 more than once: Richard Petty (seven), Cale Yarborough (four), Bobby Allison (three), Dale Jarrett (three), Jeff Gordon (three), Bill Elliott (two), Matt Kenseth (two), Jimmie Johnson (two), Sterling Marlin (two), Michael Waltrip (two) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (two). · A driver has won back-to-back Daytona 500s three times. Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95). · Seven drivers posted their career-first victory with a win in the Daytona 500: Tiny Lund (1963), Mario Andretti (1967), Pete Hamilton (1970), Derrike Cope (1990), Sterling Marlin (1994), Michael Waltrip (2001) and Trevor Bayne (2011). · Three other drivers posted their career-first victory in (points-paying) qualifying races: Johnny Rutherford (1963), Bobby Isaac (1964) and Earl Balmer (1966). · Lee Petty, who won the inaugural Daytona 500, and Trevor Bayne, 2011 Daytona 500 champion, are the only two drivers to win the Daytona 500 in their first appearance. · Active Daytona 500 winners and the number of NSCS starts in their careers when they won: o Jeff Gordon won his first Daytona 500 on his 125 th career start (1997). His second Daytona 500 win was on his 190 th career start (1999) and the third Daytona 500 was on his 402 nd career start (2005). o Jimmie Johnson won his first on his 148 th (2006) start and posted his second Daytona 500 win on his 400 th career start (2013). o Matt Kenseth won his first on his 329 th start (2009) and his second Daytona 500 on his 437 th career start (2012). o Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his first Daytona 500 on 148 th start (2004) and his second on his 506 th (2014). o Kevin Harvick posted his Daytona 500 win on his 215 th career start (2007). o Ryan Newman posted his Daytona 500 win on his 225 th career start (2008). o Jamie McMurray posted his Daytona 500 win on his 259 th career start (2011). o Michael Waltrip won his first on his 463 rd start (2001) and posted his second Daytona 500 win on his 535 th career start (2003). · Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes in the Daytona 500 with five; Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers with four (Earnhardt Jr. is tied with NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for second all-time with four). · Dale Earnhardt had 12 top fives in his 23 Daytona 500 starts, more than any other driver. Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers in Daytona 500 top-five finishes with seven (eighth most all-time). · Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty each posted a series leading 16 top 10s in the Daytona 500. · Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Michael Waltrip lead all active drivers in Daytona 500 top-10 finishes with nine. · Only 10 drivers have an average finish of 10th or better in the Daytona 500, five of those competed in the Daytona 500 only once. · Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a 12.7 average finish in 15 appearances, the best of the active drivers who have competed in more than one Daytona 500. · 28 of the 35 drivers, who have won, participated in at least two Daytona 500s before visiting Victory Lane. · Six drivers made 10 or more attempts before their first Daytona 500 victory: Dale Earnhardt (19), Buddy Baker (18), Darrell Waltrip (16), Bobby Allison (14), Michael Waltrip (14) and Sterling Marlin (12). · The driver with the all-time most Daytona 500 starts without a victory is Dave Marcis with 33 races; the active drivers with the most starts without a Daytona 500 win is Joe Nemechek (19) and Tony Stewart (16). · Kevin Harvick’s 0.020-second margin of victory over Mark Martin in the 2007 Daytona 500 is the 12th-closest overall since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993, and the closest in a Daytona 500. · Nine of the 56 Daytona 500s (16.3%) have been won from the Coors Light pole. The last to do so was Dale Jarrett in 2000. Jeff Gordon is the only active driver to accomplish the feat (1999). · Cale Yarborough (1968, 1984) and Bill Elliott (1985, 1987) are the only two drivers to win the Daytona 500 from the Coors Light pole more than once. · 16 of the 56 Daytona 500s (28.5%) have been won from the front row. · 27 of the 56 Daytona 500s (48.2%) have been won from a top-five starting position. · 41 of the 56 Daytona 500s (73.2%) have been won from a top 10 starting position · Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 from the 39th starting position in 2009, the deepest a race winner has started. · Five reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions have gone on to win the Daytona 500 the following season: Lee Petty (1959), Richard Petty (1973), Cale Yarborough (1977), Jeff Gordon (1999) and Dale Jarrett (2000). · Five drivers have won the Daytona 500 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same season, Richard Petty has done it four times: Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013), Jeff Gordon (1997), Richard Petty (1964, 1971, 1974, 1979), Cale Yarborough (1977) and Lee Petty (1959). · Danica Patrick on Sunday, Feb. 19, 2013 became the first female in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history to win a Coors Light pole for the Daytona 500 posting a speed of 196.434 mph. · Janet Guthrie previously held the record for top starting position by a female NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, starting ninth twice in 1977 - at Talladega Superspeedway on Aug. 7, 1977 and at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 28, 1977. · In 2012, Danica Patrick became the third female driver to compete in a Daytona 500 joining Janet Guthrie and Shawna Robinson. Below are the previous female driver performances in the Daytona 500. Race Season Driver Start Finish Daytona 500 1977 Janet Guthrie 39 12 Daytona 500 1980 Janet Guthrie 18 11 Daytona 500 2002 Shawna Robinson 36 24 Daytona 500 2012 Danica Patrick 29 38 Daytona 500 2013 Danica Patrick 1 8 Daytona 500 2014 Danica Patrick 27 40 · Driver Ratings for Winners – Pre-Race Daytona 500 Driver Ratings heading into 2014 for past Daytona 500 winners (past 7 years) Driver – Year – Driver Rating o Dale Earnhardt Jr – 2014 – 89.7 o Jimmie Johnson – 2013 – 82.8 o Matt Kenseth – 2012 – 89.0 o Trevor Bayne – 2011 – 68.9 o Jamie McMurray – 2010 – 80.2 o Matt Kenseth – 2009 – 89.0 o Ryan Newman – 2008 – 82.9 o Kevin Harvick – 2007 – 86.3 o Jimmie Johnson – 2006 – 87.5 · Drivers who have won the Daytona 500 in more than one car manufacturer: Driver – Manufacturer (Number of wins in that manufacturer) o Richard Petty – Plymouth (3), Dodge (2), Oldsmobile (1) and Buick (1) o Cale Yarborough – Chevrolet (2), Mercury (1) and Pontiac (1) o Bobby Allison – Buick (2) and Ford (1) o Dale Jarrett – Ford (2) and Chevrolet (1) · Drivers who have won The Sprint Unlimited and the Daytona 500 in the same season: Driver – (Year) o Bobby Allison (1982) o Bill Elliott (1987) o Dale Jarrett (1996 and 2000) o Jeff Gordon (1997) Car Numbers that have produced three or more Daytona 500 victories: Car Number – Drivers – (Years) o No. 43 – Richard Petty (1964, ’66, ’71, ’73, ’74, ’79, ‘81) o No. 21 – Tiny Lund (1963), Cale Yarborough (1968), A.J. Foyt (1972), David Pearson (1976) and Trevor Bayne (2011) o No. 28 – Fred Lorenzen (1965), Buddy Baker (1980), Cale Yarborough (1983 and 1984) and Davey Allison (1992) o No. 4 – Ernie Irvan (1991), Sterling Marlin (1994 and 1995) o No. 15 – Bobby Allison (1978), Michael Waltrip (2001 and 2003) o No. 17 – Darrell Waltrip (1989), Matt Kenseth (2009 and 2012) o No. 88 – Bobby Allison (1982), Dale Jarrett (1996 and 2000) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014) o No. 24 – Jeff Gordon (1997, 1999 and 2005) At Daytona International Speedway History · Groundbreaking for Daytona International Speedway was Nov. 25, 1957. The soil underneath the banked corners was dug from the infield of the track and the hole filled with water. It is now known as Lake Lloyd. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona was a 100-mile qualifying race for
NASCAR.com's Daytona 500 predictions
See who our staff members pick to take the checkered flag Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Members of the NASCAR.com editorial team make their picks for the Great American Race below. Who do you have? Let us know in the comments section. Zack Albert Denny Hamlin . Joe Gibbs Racing cars have shown plenty of oomph so far in Speedweeks, making Matt Kenseth another Daytona favorite. Sunday, it should be Hamlin's turn in Victory Lane. Kenny Bruce Dale Earnhardt Jr. Strong all week, and probably as pumped as he's ever been about his team and his car. Holly Cain Jimmie Johnson. Pat DeCola Jimmie Johnson. The Hendrick Motorsports driver has been unstoppable thus far at Speedweeks, but he's coming off one of his worst seasons to date -- making Johnson the rare "dark horse favorite." The No. 48 Chevrolet swept both Daytona races in his 2013 championship season but hadn't finished higher than 20th in the six Daytona races prior to that. Still, I've got a feeling. Stu Hothem Dale Earnhardt Jr. After last Saturday's first practice, the defending Daytona 500 champion said he had the fastest car in the field. On the 20th anniversary of the last back-to-back winner ( Sterling Marlin ) going to Victory Lane, Earnhardt will join Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon and NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett, Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough with three or more wins in the Great American Race. RJ Kraft Carl Edwards. The Joe Gibbs Racing stable has been as strong as the Hendrick Motorsports fleet during Speedweeks, with the veteran showing plenty of speed. It will be the organization's newest driver that brings Joe Gibbs his first trip to Victory Lane in the Daytona 500 since 1993. Brad Norman Tony Stewart. His car is fast, and Stewart seems more like the 'Smoke' of old than at any other point over the past two years. Plus, he's just due for a good break at Daytona. Jessica Ruffin Jeff Gordon. The three-time Daytona 500 champion is starting from the pole position, has a dynamic duo of Hendrick Motorsports teammates helping him in the front and his No. 24 Chevrolet SS has showcased its speed the entire week. But above all, with this event marking his final Daytona 500, Gordon has plenty of motivation to take the checkered one last time in the Great American Race. Taylor Starer Jeff Gordon. The four-time Cup champion is starting his final Great American Race as a full-time driver from the pole — what more motivation does he need to do well? Three previous Daytona 500 wins under his belt doesn't hurt, either. George Winkler Dale Earnhardt Jr. He becomes the first back-to-back winner of the Daytona 500 since Sterling Marlin in 1995. Junior's car has looked fast all week -- he won in the Daytona Duels -- and he has a strong history in this race (series-best 99.6 driver rating, two previous Daytona 500 wins). MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
Austin Dillon gets new No. 3 crew chief at RCR
Gil Martin moves to R&D role, 'Slugger' Labbe takes over team Austin Dillon is getting a new crew chief in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Richard Childress Racing announced Monday. Richard "Slugger" Labbe will guide the No. 3 team, starting at Sonoma in the June 28 Toyota-Save Mart 350 . Labbe is a veteran crew chief with 433 Cup starts under his belt, including wins at the 2003 Daytona 500 and 2011 Brickyard. He guided Kenny Irwin Jr. to a rookie of the year title in 1998. He also has worked with drivers Michael Waltrip , Dale Jarrett, Sterling Marlin and Terry Labonte . He was Paul Menard 's full-time chief from 2010 to 2014. Dillon, a former NASCAR XFINITY Series champion and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion, is 23rd in the Cup Series drivers points standings after Michigan. His best finish this season is 10th at Bristol. Martin will move into a leadership role within the RCR R&D Department, taking over Labbe's responsibilities. Martin has 16 wins in 472 NSCS starts, including a 2003 Brickyard 400 victory, and has finished in the top 10 in year-end championship points seven times. Martin also has eight wins to his credit in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
#TBT: Dale Jr. wins first Daytona race since dad's death
2001 Pepsi 400 was also first race that NBC televised Note: NBC Sports Network is reairing this race on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET as part of its NASCAR Classics series. The 2001 season was far from an easy year for the NASCAR world. The sport was shaken to its core by a crash on the closing lap at Daytona International Speedway during the Daytona 500 that led to the passing of NASCAR Hall of Famer and seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt. The races in the weeks after were filled with emotion as Dale Earnhardt, Inc. driver Steve Park won the week after the Daytona 500 at Rockingham. Two weeks later, Kevin Harvick , in just his third career Cup start, scored his first career win in the re-numbered No. 29 car for Richard Childress Racing . Harvick had been tapped after the Daytona crash to take over the car, which had been Earnhardt's No. 3. Many wondered what would happen when the sport returned to Daytona that summer for the Pepsi 400 as an emotional scene was sure to unfold. The 2001 Pepsi 400 also marked NBC's initial foray into NASCAR race coverage as it was the first race the network televised as part of a six-year pact with the sport. An interesting coincidence is that this year's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona will be NBC's first premier series race under its new TV contract that kicks in this season. The booth for that first race featured play-by-play man Allen Bestwick with analysts Wally Dallenbach and Benny Parsons. Britney Spears gave the command to start the race. Here is the intro NBC used for races in 2001 featuring the song "Fuel" by Metallica. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/center&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; At the time, Dale Earnhardt Jr . was 26 years old and in his second full-time season in the sport's top series. He came to Daytona that summer on a 39-race winless streak. After experiencing the loss of his father, his 2001 season was very much up-and-down as you might imagine. He came into Daytona the sentimental and emotional favorite. The race had plenty of emotion in the air as Sterling Marlin led the field to the green flag. Starting 13th, it took Earnhardt 26 laps to get his No. 8 Chevrolet to the front and from there it was his show for most of the night. Dale Jr. led 116 circuits in the 160-lap race en route to his third career premier series win and his first at Daytona. The win was anything but certain though, as Junior had to hold off DEI teammate Michael Waltrip (who held off Junior to win the 2001 Daytona 500 ), Elliott Sadler and Ward Burton to win by 0.123 seconds. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/center&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; When the checkered flag dropped, the crowd at Daytona roared with approval as Dale Jr. took the victory under the lights. There were tears and jubilation among the crew members and one heck of a burnout, not to mention a big embrace with Chocolate Myers, the fuel man with RCR on his dad's team. The celebration spilled over to the infield with Dale Jr. and Waltrip, who never got to truly celebrate the Daytona 500 win that year, embracing. In Victory Lane, an emotionally drained Dale Jr. told NBC's Bill Weber, "Man, I just don't know what to say. I am worn out. I got to thank my buddy Tony (Eury Jr.), my crew chief for hanging in there with me. All my friends, all the guys on the crew. "I had a great car. It was all car, 100 percent. I was just holding on." On his father he said, "he was with me tonight. I don't know how I did it. He was there and Michael helped me. I guess we're even now." He also predicted that he would be "crying sooner or later." "I dedicate this win to him. There ain't nobody else I could dedicate this win to that it would mean more to me." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/center&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; Waltrip said of his role reversal with Dale Jr. from the last Daytona race, "I just wanted Dale Jr. to win so bad and I wanted to be a part of it. …I was committed to Dale Jr. just like he was to me in February." The victory would be the first of three Junior recorded that season as he later added victories at Dover and Talladega in the fall. NBC returns to NASCAR premier series coverage after a nearly nine-year absence, with Sunday night's Coke Zero 400 (7:45 p.m. ET). Rick Allen will handle the play-by-play duties alongside analysts Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte.