NASCAR Hall of Fame: Cale Yarborough
A look ahead to the Memorial Day weekend race at Charlotte DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 18, 2014) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina going into the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24 (6 p.m. ET on FOX). CHARLOTTE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ortho Ford) · Five top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.3 · Average Running Position of 15.3, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 88.7, eighth-best · 303 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.378 mph, ninth-fastest · 3,918 Laps in the Top 15 (54.6%), ninth-most · 700 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), ninth-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · One win, six top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 19.4 · Driver Rating of 84.4, 12th-best · 216 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 3,833 Laps in the Top 15 (53.4%), 10th-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 Skittles Toyota) · 10 top fives, 14 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 15.1 · Average Running Position of 9.8, second-best · Driver Rating of 106.7, second-best · 478 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 177.219 mph, second-fastest · 5,624 Laps in the Top 15 (78.4%), second-most · 1,007 Quality Passes, second-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 Subway Toyota) · Six top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 11.3 · Average Running Position of 14.6, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 89.6, seventh-best · 1,671 Green Flag Passes, second-most · 4,450 Laps in the Top 15 (62.0%), seventh-most · 848 Quality Passes, fifth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet) · Five wins, 17 top fives, 24 top 10s; nine poles · Average finish of 15.5 · Average Running Position of 14.2, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 91.6, sixth-best · 280 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.644 mph, third-fastest · 4,562 Laps in the Top 15 (63.6%), sixth-most · 826 Quality Passes, sixth-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota) · Four top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.5 · Average Running Position of 12.6, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 92.8, fifth-best · 239 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.433 mph, sixth-fastest · 4,837 Laps in the Top 15 (71.4%), third-most · 791 Quality Passes, seventh-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser / Jimmy John’s Chevrolet) · Three wins, five top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 15.8 · Average Running Position of 16.4, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 84.7, 11th-best · 214 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · 1,609 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · 4,254 Laps in the Top 15 (59.3%), eighth-most · 743 Quality Passes, eighth-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet) · Seven wins, 13 top fives, 17 top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 11.4 · Series-best Average Running Position of 7.6 · Series-best Driver Rating of 111.6 · Series-high 688 Fastest Laps Run · 1,444 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 177.298 mph · Series-high 6,277 Laps in the Top 15 (87.5%) · Series-high 1,031 Quality Passes Kasey Kahne (No. 5 LIFTMASTER Chevrolet) · Four wins, nine top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 11.5 · Average Running Position of 11.8, third-best · Driver Rating of 100.8, third-best · 667 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · 1,642 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.601 mph, fourth-fastest · 4,725 Laps in the Top 15 (65.9%), fourth-most · 874 Quality Passes, third-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 D E WALT Toyota) · Two wins, nine top fives, 16 top 10s · Average finish of 13.6 · Average Running Position of 13.8, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 95.5, fourth-best · 379 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · 1,531 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.531 mph, fifth-fastest · 4,680 Laps in the Top 15 (65.2%), fifth-most · 854 Quality Passes, fourth-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · One win, two top fives, three top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.7 · Average Running Position of 14.6, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 86.5, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.408 mph, eighth-fastest Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · Four top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 10.0 · Average Running Position of 14.0, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 88.4, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 176.344 mph, 11th-fastest The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 28 0 3 5 11 1 15.8 84.7 2 Martin Truex Jr . 19 0 0 0 4 0 18.5 77.0 3 Jimmie Johnson 27 4 7 13 17 4 11.4 111.6 4 Joey Logano 12 0 0 4 7 0 10.0 88.4 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 30 1 0 5 11 4 19.4 81.1 6 Brad Keselowski 11 1 1 2 3 1 15.7 86.5 7 Matt Kenseth 31 0 2 9 16 5 13.6 95.5 8 Jamie McMurray 25 0 2 7 10 3 16.6 80.0 9 Jeff Gordon 44 9 5 17 24 10 15.5 91.6 10 Kasey Kahne 22 0 4 9 13 1 11.5 100.8 11 Aric Almirola 6 1 0 0 0 1 19.5 74.3 12 Paul Menard 16 0 0 0 2 2 22.9 66.1 13 Ryan Newman 28 9 0 4 11 5 18.5 79.0 14 Kurt Busch 29 0 1 6 7 4 19.4 84.4 15 Denny Hamlin 19 1 0 4 11 1 13.5 92.8 16 Clint Bowyer 18 0 1 2 5 1 17.1 82.0 * – Based on last 19 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Charlotte Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 12 of 36 (05-24-15) Track Size : 1.5-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2 : 24 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4 : 24 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 5 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 5 degrees Frontstretch Length : 1,980 feet Backstretch Length : 1,500 feet Race Length : 400 laps / 600 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Charlotte Jimmie Johnson ........................ 111.6 Kyle Busch ............................... 106.7 Kasey Kahne ............................. 100.8 Matt Kenseth .............................. 95.5 Denny Hamlin ............................. 92.8 Jeff Gordon ................................ 91.6 Carl Edwards .............................. 89.6 Greg Biffle .................................. 88.7 Joey Logano .............................. 88.4 Brad Keselowski ......................... 86.5 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (19 total) among active drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Jimmie Johnson , Chevrolet 194.911 mph, 27.705 secs. 05-22-14 2014 race winner : Jimmie Johnson , Chevrolet 145.484 mph, (04:07:27), 05-25-14 Track qualifying record: Kurt Busch , Chevrolet 198.771 mph, 27.167 secs. 10-09-14 Track race (600 miles) record: Kasey Kahne , Chevrolet 155.687 mph, (03:51:14), 05-27-12 At Charlotte Motor Speedway : History · Construction began on Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) in 1959. · The track’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 19, 1960 – won by Joe Lee Johnson . · The track was repaved midseason in 1994. · The track name changed from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1999. It changed back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 2010 season. · The track was re-paved again before the 2006 season. Notebook · There have been 112 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races at Charlotte Motor Speedway , two races per year since the track opened in 1960. In 1961, there were two 100-mile qualifying points races held the week before the May race. The first six fall races at Charlotte were 400-mile events (1960-65). · 527 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points paying race at Charlotte Motor Speedway ; 378 in more than one. 441 drivers have competed in the Coca-Cola 600 ; 287 in more than one. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Charlotte with 64. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 44 starts; followed by Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart with 31. Richard Petty and Bill Elliott have made the most Coca-Cola 600 starts with 31 each; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in 600 starts with 22. · Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway (World 600) in 1960 with a speed of 133.904 mph. · 42 drivers have Coors Light poles at Charlotte, led by David Pearson with 14. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon lead all active drivers in poles at CMS with nine. · David Pearson and Ryan Newman are tied for the series most Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Coors Light poles with six each; followed by Jeff Gordon with five. · 12 drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Charlotte. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Charlotte with 11; from the fall of 1973 through 1978. · Jeff Gordon won five straight Coca-Cola 600 poles at Charlotte between 1994 and 1998. · Youngest Charlotte pole winner: Jeff Gordon (10/10/1993 – 22 years, 2 months, 6 days). · Oldest Charlotte pole winner: Bobby Allison (10/11/1987 – 49 years, 10 months, 8 days). · 45 different drivers have won at Charlotte Motor Speedway , led by Jimmie Johnson with seven wins including four Coca-Cola 600 wins - 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2014. · 30 different drivers have won the Coca-Cola 600 , led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with five; Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with four; followed by teammates Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne with three each. · Nine drivers have posted consecutive wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway , including three consecutive by NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen (fall 1964 and both 1965) and four straight by Jimmie Johnson (2004 and 2005 sweeps). · A season sweep at Charlotte has occurred eight times, including each season from 2004-2007. · Seven times from seven different drivers has the winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race gone on to win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway : Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kasey Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010). · Youngest Charlotte winner: Jeff Gordon (05/29/1994 – 22 years, 9 months, 25 days). · Oldest Charlotte winner: Cale Yarborough (10/06/1985 – 46 years, 6 months, 9 days). · Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Charlotte in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 18: Jimmie Johnson (seven), Jeff Gordon (five), Darrell Waltrip (two), Ken Schrader (one), Terry Labonte (one), Casey Mears (one) and Kasey Kahne (one). · Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Charlotte; led by Chevrolet with 43 victories; followed by Ford with 29. Chevrolet also has the most Coca-Cola 600 wins at 23. · 15 of the 112 (13.3%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Jimmie Johnson in 2014 ( Coca-Cola 600 ). · The second-place starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (17) than any other starting position at Charlotte Motor Speedway . · 32 of the 112 (28.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the front row: 15 from the pole and 17 from second-place. · 85 of the 112 (75.8%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Charlotte have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Nine of the 112 (8.0%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Charlotte is 37th, by Jimmie Johnson in the Coca-Cola 600 of 2003. · Richard Petty leads the series in runner-up finishes at Charlotte with nine. Jeff Gordon , Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers with three. · Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers in runner-up finishes in the Coca-Cola 600 with two. · NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison are tied for the series most top-five finishes at Charlotte with 23. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 17. Richard Petty leads the series in top fives in the Coca-Cola 600 with 12; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Charlotte with 31. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 24. Darrell Waltrip, Ricky Rudd and David Pearson lead the series in top 10s in the Coca-Cola 600 with 15 each; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 12. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Charlotte with a 7.630. · Joey Logano leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Charlotte with a 10.000. Carl Edwards leads all active drivers in average finish in the Coca-Cola 600 with a 9.000. · Dale Earnhardt Jr . leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Charlotte without visiting Victory Lane at 30; followed by Ryan Newman with 28. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the May 29, 2005 race won by Jimmie Johnson over Bobby Labonte with a MOV of 0.027 second. · There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway , but only once for the Coca-Cola 600 (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): fall of 2005 (334/336), fall of 2007 (334/337) and the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 (400/402). · Five of the 112 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 won by David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip Racing . Four of the five races shortened were the 600-mile events (1968, 1997, 2003 and 2009). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway twice; the fall race of 200
With 83 wins in the Cup Series and three consecutive championships, Yarborough has secured his place in the record books and is now in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Yarborough comments on reaching the top of the NASCAR ladder, racing for the Wood Brothers and why he never returned to racing.
Yarborough made his mark in NASCAR by winning the Daytona 500 four times and the Cup championship three times.
Three wins and a title short of Dale Sr., Jimmie on verge of milestones Jimmie Johnson could wind up at the end of the 2015 season with two very noteworthy accomplishments in the world of stock car racing. Neither is a given. In fact, a year from now we could be sitting here in front of our keyboards -- or mobile devices, if you choose -- pondering the same situation. Yet with each passing week, the Hendrick Motorsports driver seems to inch closer to a level few have attained in NASCAR. His latest victory, No. 73, came just this past weekend at Kansas Speedway . Now eighth on NASCAR’s all-time win list, he’s long been ahead of NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace, who checked in at No. 9 with 55 career wins when he checked out back in 2005. Just ahead, perhaps a straightaway in racing terminology, is Dale Earnhardt. The Intimidator. One of the greatest -- some say THE greatest -- racers the world of NASCAR has ever known. Only three wins separate the two. Three wins. Johnson already has three wins this year and the season’s less than one-third complete. Johnson, 39, said earlier this year that catching Earnhardt hasn’t been on his mind. That was after he won at Atlanta, if memory serves, and only two races into the season few teams know which direction their year will go. The picture seems much clearer today. All three of the No. 48 team’s wins this year have come on 1.5-mile tracks -- Atlanta, Texas and now Kansas. If you’re going to be tough to beat on one particular type of track, the mile-and-a-halves are a good choice. The series’ 36-race schedule is littered with them. Charlotte’s up next and in case you were wondering, it’s a mile-and-a-half as well. Seven of Johnson’s 73 wins have come at CMS, and he’s the defending champion of the track’s annual Coca-Cola 600 , scheduled for a week from Sunday. Teammate Jeff Gordon matched Earnhardt’s victory total nearly a decade ago and then went sailing on ahead. A four-time champion with 92 career wins, Gordon has passed NASCAR Hall of Famers Cale Yarborough , Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison in the years since. He’ll hang it up at year’s end and his final win total will be just that. But success isn’t measured only in victories. Championships cement a driver’s status long after he’s gone. It’s been that way for Richard Petty, the first to win seven titles, and for Earnhardt, the second. Gordon notched four and seemed a sure bet to be the next, but then the Chase came along and while he’s been close (finishing second in ’07 and third in ’09), close doesn’t take home the trophy. Johnson won two titles almost before folks knew he spelled his first name with an “ie.” All six of his championships have come under the Chase format (which debuted in ’04), and that’s a knock in some folks’ eyes. It shouldn’t be. A driver and team have to be good enough through a 26-race stretch to qualify for the Chase, then better than anyone else in the final 10. Everyone plays and through the course of the season the cream eventually rises to the top. More often than not, Johnson and the No. 48 group have done just that. He could catch Earnhardt this year and not win the championship. He could win the championship and not catch Earnhardt. He could do both or he could do neither. But at the rate Johnson and his team are performing today, both are certainly possible. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Find out what legends Earnhardt Jr. would put up there SHOP: Dale Jr. gear KANSAS CITY, Kan. – One of the best ways to determine a sport's all-time legends is to simply pose the question: "If someone built a Mount Rushmore for 'Sport X,' who would be on it?" So that's exactly the question we posed … to Dale Earnhardt Jr . So, Dale, whose faces would you carve in the side of a South Dakota mountain? "My mind goes back to the 70's and stuff … Richard (Petty) would have to be there," Earnhardt said Friday at Kansas Speedway . "It would be so tough. I would probably walk out of here and think of four more, but the guys that stand out to me are Richard and my father (Dale Earnhardt), David Pearson." Okay, we're with you so far – that’s 381 Sprint Cup Series victories and 17 championships spread out between the three NASCAR Hall of Famers. But whose face gets etched in stone as the fourth? "The fourth is a toss-up between guys like ( Cale ) Yarborough and Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, obviously. " Jeff Gordon , Jimmie (Johnson) (have) got to be in that conversation." Pretty high praise for his Hendrick Motorsports teammates, considering they're still padding their respective resumes as active drivers in the series. Then again, Gordon and Johnson aren't your typical surefire Hall of Famers. The duo serve as two of the strongest faces of NASCAR and each individually dominated the sport for extended periods of time. Look no further than Johnson's record five straight Cup titles. He won a sixth in 2013. "(Johnson) could even probably be the third guy. I would imagine definitely Jimmie would be on there," Earnhardt said. "But the fourth could just be about a handful of guys. You would get a different opinion from probably everybody in the room maybe." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Strategy play to stay on older tires late pays off for six-time Cup champ RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings " SHOP: Winner's gear KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Thanks to a brief but wild Kansas spring storm and the long delay it produced, Jimmie Johnson on Sunday became the first Sprint Cup driver to win a race on Mother's Day since 2007. Johnson, who is pursuing a record-tying seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship this season, held off Kevin Harvick over the final six laps to win Sunday morning's SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway . Johnson's victory -- which was recorded just after midnight local time because of a delay of 2 hours and 16 minutes -- was his third of the season and his third at the 1.5-mile Kansas oval. "It was a long, hard night," Johnson, who led just 10 laps and who spun out unassisted early in the race, said in Victory Lane. "Once we got up front, we were able to hang on." Reminded about what day it was when he finally took the checkered flag, Johnson said, "I just want to wish Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there. My mother and especially my wife Chani (Johnson, wife), hopefully she is still awake. I wish she was here. I wish my girls were here too, but I will be home tonight and we will have some fun tomorrow." Harvick, who led 53 laps, finished second in his Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Third was Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr . Fourth was another Hendrick driver, Jeff Gordon , while pole-sitter Joey Logano was fifth in a Team Penske Ford. The victory was the 73rd of the six-time champion's career. It came thanks to some late-race strategizing by teams who had cars and drivers at the front of the field. Harvick appeared to be headed toward his third victory of the season as the laps wound down after he took the lead on a restart lap with 55 laps to go. The defending series champion had a lead of over 1 second with 14 laps to go and nobody appeared fast enough to close that gap let alone get around him. But with 12 laps to go, Ricky Stenhouse Jr .'s Roush Fenway Racing Ford clipped the outside wall to bring out the final caution. Harvick and all but four others -- Johnson, Earnhardt Jr., Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon -- pitted as they were iffy on fuel. Harvick also opted to take two right-side tires. After the restart with six to go, the race became a three-driver affair as Johnson, Earnhardt and Harvick, who restarted sixth, edged away from the field. The decision by Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus turned out to be a winner – even though they had less rubber than did Harvick. Harvick never got close enough to Johnson to take a final shot at a pass. Johnson said the decision to not pit was a split-second, gut-feeling kind of thing and it was mostly his. "I could tell he (crew chief Chad Knaus) was having a hard time making the decision," Johnson said. "I'm kind of running through the events in my mind. We have two wins, we are locked in the Chase, and we are here to win a race, let's gamble. Let's go for it. Sure enough it paid off. A few more laps I think the No. 4 (Harvick) would have had me. He was awfully strong. Obviously being on right side tires would have been an advantage for him. We had just enough time to get this Lowe's Chevrolet to Victory Lane. Just very proud of the team and the effort that has gone into it. We have great race cars. I wish we would qualify a little better on Friday's that would make life a lot easier for us." Harvick said he wasn't mad about his team's decision to pit. "I've been on the other side of this deal where the cars aren't running good and you don't have a chance to win," he said. "We won a championship on pit calls and tires and everything fell our way. We've had a lot of things go our way and we've had a lot of things work." Harvick did insist, however, he had the faster car regardless of the outcome. "He wasn't that strong," Harvick said of Johnson. "He was just trying to run right in front of our car so for those first few laps when you're pushing like that it really takes the air off the front of the car and it gets the chatter in the front end and it snaps around. But that was the strategy they took and it worked out for them." Perhaps the most bummed driver as a result of the finish was Furniture Row Racing 's Martin Truex Jr . His No. 78 Chevrolet was clearly the fastest on the track for the vast majority of the race. It led a race-best 95 laps. But his team felt it needed to pit for fuel during the final caution. On the restart, it became obvious they had made the wrong call. Truex finished ninth. "We should have either stayed out or took new tires," Truex said. "We probably did the worst thing you could have done there with just staying out and getting gas only because we ended up being the last guy with no tires. Everybody else behind us had two and they ate us up on the restart." MORE: Video recap " Dale discusses Hamlin incident FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule All-time premier series wins Rank Driver Wins 1. Richard Petty 200 2. David Pearson 105 3. Jeff Gordon 92 4t. Bobby Allison 84 4t. Darrell Waltrip 84 6. Cale Yarborough 83 7. Dale Earnhardt 76 8. Jimmie Johnson* 73 9. Rusty Wallace 55 10. Lee Petty 54 *200 top-5 finishes is 12th all time *300 top-10 finishes is 17th all time
Awesome Bill's thrilling triumph was 30 years ago RELATED: Best #TBT posts of April On May 5, 1985, Bill Elliott started from the pole and won his first race at Talladega Superspeedway . There's much, much more to that story, however. Perhaps the most improbable comeback win in NASCAR's rich history, Sunday's GEICO 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX) will mark the 30th anniversary of Elliott's amazing run in the 1985 Winston 500 where he made up more than a 5-mile deficit -- without the benefit of a caution period -- to capture the impossible triumph. Elliott, with smoke billowing from under his Ford Thunderbird's hood, was within a few hundred yards of going two laps down to the leaders on the 2.66-mile track after taking an unscheduled pit stop to make repairs to an oil fitting line. Elliott climbed all the way back to the front and rocketed to Victory Lane. That unexpected 1985 pit stop, which occurred on Lap 48 after Elliott had already led 25 laps -- he wound up leading 60 total -- lasted 1 minute and 9 seconds, putting the Dawsonville, Georgia, native within shouting distance of falling two laps down. He began his march up the leaderboard by turning laps nearly a second faster than the leaders, banking that his brother's (Ernie Elliott) prepared engine would last. Ninety-seven laps later on Lap 145, he passed Cale Yarborough down the Alabama Gang Superstretch for the lead. "I will never forget that day in 1985," said Elliott, who topped the scoreboard 35 of the last 44 circuits, including the final 20. "I remember coming down pit road and our guys dealing with the oil line issue. We went back out and ran wide open and I was totally shocked the motor lived all day long; totally shocked. "We were a bunch of misfits put together, 12 of us total on the team, and that included the motor shop and the chassis shop. Most of the guys who pitted the car came in on weekends. We all had a good understanding of the race cars, though. It seems like it was yesterday." Elliott's margin of victory was 1.72 seconds ahead of a pack of cars, including Kyle Petty, who edged Yarborough at the start/finish line for second. He averaged a then-record of 186.288 mph in the race, which only had two cautions, both late in the event. The trip to Victory Lane was his first at Talladega, and he added to his legacy two years later with another victory. "I about kissed everything goodbye because I didn’t know what happened when it started missing there (and engine started smoking)," the 16-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver said on that momentous day in 1985. "But, they raised the hood and got it fixed faster than I thought they would. It felt like I sat there six or 10 laps. I worked my tail off to try and keep up. I just kept on digging. This old car kept on digging. I want to thank the good Lord for making up those laps. The old car just held together and worked." Last week, Elliott celebrated his tremendous 30-year accomplishment by donning a helmet, firing up the engine of that famed red, white and gold Ford that made him a legend, and made hot laps around NASCAR's biggest and baddest track. The car's engine hadn’t been cranked since it was put on display at the nearby International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1986. "It felt like a million bucks (being back in his historic car)," Elliott said in a press release. "I really miss the competitive side of racing week-in and week-out. I ran so many laps around this race track and tested here so many times in my career. It feels like it was yesterday I was racing here." The NASCAR Hall of Famer made five laps around the track, then drove to Victory Lane and was presented a replica trophy from 30 years ago. "The car actually drove surprisingly well. I don't know how fast I went -- couldn't see for some dirt blowing in my eyes. I think that is the way I drove here in '85 -- with my eyes closed most of the race, so I was right at home. I wanted to go faster but the oil temp went up a bit and I said 'it (the engine) isn't going to live long.' " When asked if he wanted to come out of retirement to compete at Talladega again, Elliott joked, "I want to come back Sunday (for the GEICO 500 ). Don't tell anyone. I hope the car gets through inspection."
A stats-based look ahead to the second race of the Sprint Cup season Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Chase Grid standings after Daytona 500 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. –Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia going into the Folds Of Honor QuikTrip 500 on March ATLANTA-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ortho Ford) · Three top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.7 · Average Running Position of 13.9, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 90.8, 11th-best · 237 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,031 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · 3,466 Laps in the Top 15 (66.2%), sixth-most · 539 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), seventh-most Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Kelly Blue Book Chevrolet) · One win, eight top fives, 12 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 12.3 · Average Running Position of 13.0, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 92.7, ninth-best · 227 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 1,119 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.203 mph, eighth-fastest · 3,382 Laps in the Top 15 (64.6%), seventh-most · 535 Quality Passes, eighth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 ARRIS Toyota) · Three wins, nine top fives, 11 top 10s · Average finish of 14.6 · Average Running Position of 12.4, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 100.1, third-best · Series-high 371 Fastest Laps Run · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.499 mph, second-fastest · 4,038 Laps in the Top 15 (77.1%), third-most · 552 Quality Passes, fifth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 3M Chevrolet) · Five wins, 16 top fives, 26 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 11.9 · Average Running Position of 10.2, second-best · Series-best Driver Rating of 106.0 · 296 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.453 mph, fourth-fastest · 4,161 Laps in the Top 15 (79.5%), second-most · Series-high 612 Quality Passes Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · One win, three top fives, six top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 16.8 · Average Running Position of 12.1, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 97.4, sixth-best · 263 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.463 mph, third-fastest · 3,312 Laps in the Top 15 (67.4%), ninth-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/ Budweiser Chevrolet) · One win, five top fives, nine top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 18.8 · Driver Rating of 90.4, 12th-best · 280 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 949 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.232 mph, seventh-fastest · 3,045 Laps in the Top 15 (58.1%), 12th-most · 470 Quality Passes, 11th-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) · Three wins, 12 top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 11.5 · Series-best Average Running Position of 9.1 · Driver Rating of 104.9, second-best · 280 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 171.523 mph · Series-high 4,381 Laps in the Top 15 (83.7%) · 582 Quality Passes, third-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Nine top fives, 15 top 10s · Average finish of 12.3 · Average Running Position of 12.2, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 97.9, fifth-best · 201 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 1,034 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.339 mph, fifth-fastest · 3,749 Laps in the Top 15 (71.6%), fourth-most · 544 Quality Passes, sixth-most Kyle Larson (No. 42 ENERGIZER Chevrolet) · One top 10 · Average finish of 8.0 · Average Running Position of 11.3, third-best · Driver Rating of 91.1, 10th-best Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet) · Three wins, 10 top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.7 · Average Running Position of 12.3, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 98.1, fourth-best · 233 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.191 mph, ninth-fastest · 3,353 Laps in the Top 15 (68.3%), eighth-most · 509 Quality Passes, 10th-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Joey Logano 8 0 0 1 1 0 21.5 71.9 2 Kevin Harvick 24 1 1 5 9 4 18.8 90.4 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 27 2 1 8 12 2 12.3 92.7 4 Denny Hamlin 15 1 1 3 6 2 16.8 97.4 5 Jimmie Johnson 23 0 3 12 14 2 11.5 104.9 6 Casey Mears 19 0 0 0 0 2 22.5 59.1 7 Clint Bowyer 14 0 0 0 5 2 21.1 83 8 Martin Truex Jr. 16 1 0 2 4 4 20.4 90.1 9 Kasey Kahne 18 2 3 7 9 3 18.6 87.2 10 Greg Biffle 20 1 0 3 10 2 15.7 90.8 11 David Gilliland 13 0 0 0 0 2 26.8 56.6 12 Sam Hornish Jr. 7 0 0 0 0 1 27.1 57.9 13 Michael Annett 1 0 0 0 0 0 21 59.2 14 Austin Dillon 2 0 0 0 0 0 21.5 65.1 15 Aric Almirola 4 0 0 0 1 0 20.5 65.8 16 David Ragan 12 0 0 0 1 1 26.5 57.3 * – Based on last 16 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway (2005 – 2014). Atlanta Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 2 of 36 (03-01-14) Track Size : 1.54-miles Banking/Turn 1 & 2 : 24 degrees Banking/Turn 3 & 4 : 24 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 5 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 5 degrees Frontstretch Length : 2,332 feet Backstretch Length : 1,800 feet Race Length : 325 laps / 500.5 miles Top Driver Ratings at Atlanta Jeff Gordon .............................. 106.0 Jimmie Johnson ........................ 104.9 Carl Edwards ............................ 100.1 Tony Stewart ............................... 98.1 Matt Kenseth .............................. 97.9 Denny Hamlin ............................. 97.4 Dale Earnhardt Jr. ....................... 92.7 Kyle Larson. ............................... 91.1 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (16 total) among active drivers at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet 190.398 mph, 29.118 secs. 08-29-14 2014 race winner : Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet 131.514 mph, (03:55:22), 08-31-14 Track qualifying record: Geoffrey Bodine, Ford 197.478 mph, 28.074 secs. 11-15-97 Track race record: Bobby Labonte, Pontiac 159.904 mph, (03:07:48), 11-16-97 Statistical Advance Atlanta Motor Speedway: History · Originally called Atlanta International Raceway, the track was then a 1.5-mile paved speedway. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta was on July 31, 1960, won by Fireball Roberts from the pole. · The track was re-measured to 1.522 miles in the spring of 1970. · It was renamed Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1990. · The track layout was reversed and the track was re-configured to 1.54 miles between the two races in 1997. Notebook · There have been 107 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Atlanta Motor Speedway since the first race there in 1960. Until 2010 there have been two races per year except 1961, which had three. This year marks the fourth season with only one event. · 552 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway; 367 in more than one. · Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Atlanta with 65. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 41 starts, followed by Joe Nemechek with 38. · Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Atlanta in 1960 with a speed of 133.870 mph. · 48 drivers have Coors Light poles at Atlanta, led by Buddy Baker and Ryan Newman with seven each. · Winning consecutive Coors Light poles has happened eight times at Atlanta, among six drivers. · Ryan Newman holds the record for most consecutive poles at Atlanta with six; spring of 2003 through 2005. · Youngest Atlanta pole winner: Terry Labonte (03/15/1981 – 24 years, 3 months, 27 days). · Oldest Atlanta pole winner: Harry Gant (11/14/1993 – 53 years, 10 months, 4 days). · 43 different NSCS drivers have won at Atlanta Motor Speedway, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt with nine wins. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five. · 11 drivers have posted consecutive wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway: Marvin Panch (1965 sweep), Bobby Allison (1972 sweep), David Pearson (1973 sweep), Richard Petty (1974 fall, 1975 spring), Cale Yarborough (1980 fall, 1981 spring), Bill Elliott (1985 sweep; 1992 sweep), Dale Earnhardt (1989 fall, 1990 spring; 1995 fall, 1996 spring), Bobby Labonte (1997 fall, 1998 spring), Jeff Gordon (1998 fall, 1999 spring), Carl Edwards (2005 sweep), Jimmie Johnson (2007 sweep) · Youngest Atlanta winner: Kyle Busch (03/09/2008 – 22 years, 10 months, 7 days). · Oldest Atlanta winner: Morgan Shepherd (03/20/1993 – 51 years, 5 months, 8 days). · The Wood Brothers and Hendrick Motorsports have the most wins at Atlanta in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 12 each: o Wood Brothers: Cale Yarborough (three), David Pearson (three), Marvin Panch (two), Neil Bonnett (two) A.J. Foyt (one) and Morgan Shepherd (one). o Hendrick Motorsports: Jeff Gordon (five), Jimmie Johnson (three), Darrell Waltrip (one), Jerry Nadeau (one), Kasey Kahne (one) and Ken Schrader (one). o Joe Gibbs Racing has the third most wins at Atlanta with 11. · Nine different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Atlanta; led by Chevrolet with 38 victories; followed by Ford (29), Pontiac (11), Dodge (nine), Mercury (eight), Buick (four), Plymouth (four), Toyota (three) and Oldsmobile (one). · 14 of the 107 (13.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Atlanta have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Kasey Kahne in 2006. · The fifth starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (15) than any other starting position at Atlanta Motor Speedway; the most recent was Jeff Gordon in 2011. · 26 of the 107 (24.2%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Atlanta have been won from the front row: 14 from the pole and 12 from second-place. · 60 of the 107 (56.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Atlanta have been won from a top-five starting position. · 85 of the 107 (79.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Atlanta have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Seven of the 107 (6.5%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Atlanta have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Atlanta is 39th, by Bobby Labonte in the fall of 2001. · No driver has swept the weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway across all three NASCAR national series. Two drivers have won in multiple NASCAR national series in the same weekend at Atlanta: Carl Edwards (2005, NSCS/NNS); (fall 2008, NSCS/NNS) and Kyle Busch (spring 2008, NSCS/NCWTS) · Dale Earnhardt and David Pearson lead the series in runner-up finishes at Atlanta with seven each; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five. · Dale Earnhardt leads the series in top-five finishes at Atlanta with 26; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 16. · Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Atlanta with 33; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 26. · Ryan Newman leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Atlanta with a 7.409. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at 11.522. · Nine of the 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners at Atlanta Motor Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Kevin Harvick won at Atlanta in his first appearance (2001). Carl Edwards won in his second appearance (2005). · Denny Hamlin competed at Atlanta Motor Speedway 12 times before winning in the spring of 2012; the longest span of any the 10 active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners. · Among the 10 active NSCS Atlanta winners Denny Hamlin (12) is the only driver to have made 10 or more attempts before his first win. · Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Atlanta without visiting Victory Lane at 38; followed by Matt Kenseth with 26. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway was the March 11, 2001 race won by Kevin Harvick over Jeff Gordon with a MOV of 0.006 second. · There have been four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): fall of 2007 (325/329); spring of 2010 (325/341), fall of 2012 (325/327) and 2014 (325/335). · Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway five times; most recently the fall of 2010. · One active driver has posted his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Atlanta Motor Speedway: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (9/01/2013). · Two active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career start at Atlanta Motor Speedway: Jeff Gordon (11/15/1992) and Martin Truex Jr. (10/31/2004). · Two active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Atlanta Motor Speedway: Kevin Harvick (3/11/2001) and Carl Edwards (3/20/2005). · Cale Yarborough leads all drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Atlanta with 3,283 laps led in 47 starts. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in laps led at Atlanta with 1,297. · Three female drivers have competed at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie, Shawna Robinson and Danica Patrick. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Janet Guthrie 34 30 3/20/1977 Janet Guthrie 19 16 11/6/1977 Janet Guthrie 23 10 3/19/1978 Shawna Robinson 31 34 3/10/2002 Danica Patrick 23 29 9/2/2012 Danica Patrick 21 21 9/1/2013 Danica Patrick 27 6 8/31/2014 NASCAR in Georgia · There have been 166 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among 12 different tracks in Georgia. Track Name City NSCS Atlanta Motor Speedway Hampton 107 Augusta International Speedway Augusta 12 Lakewood Speedway Atlanta 11 Savannah Speedway Savannah 10 Middle Georgia Raceway Macon 9 Central City Speedway Macon 7 Valdosta 75 Speedway Valdosta 3 Jeffco Speedway Jefferson 2 Oglethorpe Speedway Savannah 2 Augusta International Raceway Augusta 1 Columbus Speedway Columbus 1 Hayloft Speedway Augusta 1 · 180 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Georgia; 15 have won at least once in one of NASCAR’s national series. · 11 of the 178 have posted at least one victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. · Bill Elliott (five wins) is the only Georgia native to have won at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. MORE: Driver NSCS NXS NCWTS Bill Elliott 44 1 0 Tim Flock 39 0 0 Jack Smith 21 0 0 Fonty Flock 19 0 0 Bob Flock 4 0 0 Frank Mundy 3 0 0 David Ragan 2 2 0 Gober Sosebee 2 0 0 Harold Kite 1