RELATED: Darlington throwback paint schemes Darlington's throwback theme for Sunday's Bojangles' Southern 500 already is a hit with racers and fans alike, bringing out the creativity in the industry with special paint schemes and providing opportunities to honor great racers who have gone before. But what if along with those throwback paint schemes, like Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s Valvoline No. 88 nod to Cale Yarborough and Clint Bowyer 's No. 15 salute to recently passed Buddy Baker, we could actually bring back the NASCAR legends themselves for this one race. Who would you pick? Hall of Fame crew chief Dale Inman could fill the whole 43-car field with legendary race car drivers. He won seven premier series championships with Richard Petty and an eighth with Terry Labonte , competing against some of the most storied personalities in the sport. "Damn, I've seen 'em all. I don't know …" Inman said of trying to choose just one driver to place in a throwback ride. "Earnhardt Sr. was good there you know." Bowyer, too, wished Earnhardt Sr. could join the field at the 2015 Southern 500. "Obviously for me it would be Earnhardt for me because we lost him, you know. That's first and foremost. Anyone you ever lost is who you'd want to bring back." But Bowyer said bringing back the man with the most wins (47) and most poles (47) at Darlington, David Pearson, would be the ultimate measuring stick for today's Sprint Cup drivers. "Pearson … man, what a character and just a genuine badass and an aggressive and successful racer. Anytime you have someone who's successful in the sport you make a living in, you want to be able to see what he had, what he's made of and see how you stack up." Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers Racing , fondly remembers those days with Pearson driving the No. 21 Purolator Mercury. Pearson drove for the Woods Brothers from 1972-79 and won seven times at "The Lady in Black" during that span with two runner-up finishes. "That was his place," Wood said of Pearson's dominance at the South Carolina track. "The hotter the better for David. He liked it HOT, so we'd have to run in the daytime for him." RELATED: Drivers, officials, fans pumped for throwback weekend Inman attributed some of Pearson's success at the track also called "Too Tough To Tame" to his ability to take care of his equipment. This was extra difficult, as Inman recalled, because the track promoter sometimes would put bear's grease on the track between Saturday's practice and Monday's race. Blue laws prevented NASCAR from running on Sundays in South Carolina then. "Pearson just had a knack for taking care of the car. He always had a good car too," Inman said. "At least most of the time. For Darlington we put bars under the fenders. You knew you were gonna hit the wall, so we just put bars in and just bolted them to the right side. But the guard rail wasn't smooth like it is now. And they'll wear the sides out this time with the low downforce package." Aside from the drivers who racked up at the track, including Richard Petty and Buck Baker, Inman said Parnelli Jones' performance at Darlington had lasting impact on the racing there. "Parnelli Jones came out here in maybe 1956 or 57 was the first one to really use the high bank to what it is now. I remember him just sliding up to the fence. He didn't finish, of course." Jones crashed at Darlington in both 1956 and 1957. He finished 50th in a field of 70 cars in 1956 in the No. 1 Torrance Motors Ford and 34th in the No. 11 Ford owned by Oscar Maples in 1957. In 1958, Jones did finish the Southern 500 running, coming in 18th in a field of 48 cars during his last race there. The list of great performances at Darlington is nothing short of epic. Just the list of winners sends any racing fan on a long ride down memory lane: Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts , Fred Lorenzen, Bobby Allison, Fonty Flock, Neil Bonnett, Benny Parsons, Harry Gant. How would they stack up against Jeff Gordon , the active driver with the most wins at Darlington (seven)? "Herb Thomas and Buck Baker were both really good," Inman added to the list. "But Herb had it as good as anyone in those old Hudson Hornets that Marshall Teague built, and I think he won in a Chevrolet, too." Now that would be an entirely different kind of throwback idea. Run at Darlington again in restored Chevrolets, Fords, Hornets, Plymouths, Pontiacs and Dodges.
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Fireball Roberts
Former engine builder, Waddell Wilson, talks about Fireball Roberts' contributions to the sport and how he helped discover drafting.
NASCAR fans, check your calendars. Sure, it’s hot and humid outside -- it is August, after all -- but this week feels a lot like Christmas, doesn't it? Saturday marks one of the premier days of each year in motorsports -- we'll be runnin' 'em under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway in the Irwin Tools Night Race (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). For many, the night race at Bristol is the most-anticipated event of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, even ranking ahead of the Daytona 500 . Seeing that race live is something special, something sure to be on every fan's ultimate bucket list. So that has us wondering -- what's on your bucket list? NASCAR.com's Pat DeCola and Jessica Ruffin offer their personal ones, and you should feel free to list your own down in the comments section. DeCola: My NASCAR bucket list? Man, that's a tough one. The sport has so much history at so many different tracks for so many different reasons, it's hard to narrow it down. For starters, I think I'd want to knock the Brickyard 400 at Indy off my list. The Brickyard is arguably the most famous track in the world -- certainly in the United States -- and I have a sneaking feeling the history runs so deep there that you can breathe it in just as easily as the exhaust from 43 cars running around a 2.5-mile rectangle at 200 mph. Indy's an obvious bucket list item. RELATED: Busch wins Indy for third straight victory Ruffin: Stepping on those celebrated bricks and looking up at the famed pagoda is nothing short of a NASCAR dream, Pat. Indy definitely makes my list, too. And while it's much smaller and less glamorous than Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I'm going to throw Martinsville Speedway on my NASCAR bucket list. As the oldest track on the circuit, Martinsville takes you back in time to the roots of racing. All the greats from Fireball Roberts to Junior Johnson to Richard Petty to Dale Earnhardt have wheeled race cars around the paperclip oval. Watching old-school short-track racing from the grandstands -- which all have a spectacular view -- while munching on a legendary Martinsville hot dog is a must-do for any diehard fan. DeCola: Tell me about it. Much to my cholesterol-level's dismay, Martinsville probably makes my bucket list for the hot dog, alone. Continuing down the history trail here, another one any fan would be thrilled to cross off their list is Darlington Raceway, especially for this year's Labor Day Throwback race. Sure, the summer trips to Myrtle Beach are great, but driving along the outside of the landmark track along the way only makes me wish I could be standing in the infield, watching those killer throwback schemes race to take home the biscuit race for one of NASCAR's majors -- the Bojangles' Southern 500 . RELATED: NASCAR.com names NASCAR's Majors Ruffin: This year's throwback schemes at Darlington are going to be incredible -- fans can bet they'll be transported back to another age of racing when they watch Kevin Harvick 's old-school Budweiser scheme turning laps around the speedway Labor Day weekend from the infield. Another place that makes my bucket list possibly for the infield alone is a "Big One" -- good ole Talladega. Located in the heart of Dixie, the larger-than-life tailgating -- which includes everything from mud wrestling to weddings -- and passionate fans make 'Dega a must-stop on the circuit. The racing's pretty awesome, too, with the superspeedway-style drafting, high speeds and crazy, multi-car pile-ups. And if someone like Junior -- the 'Dega fan favorite -- takes the checkered, the contagious post-race excitement is bound to leave you singing "Sweet Home Alabama" all the way home. DeCola: Home, you say, eh? Well, there's no better place to call home than Daytona International Speedway, which may as well consider itself the flagship track of our entire sport. Sure, I've been there before, but guess what -- the annual season-opening Daytona 500 should be on every NASCAR fan's bucket list … every year. One of the most unpredictable, enthralling races of the entire season, there's no reason to "cross it off" if you've been there before. Once is surely not enough. Ruffin: Daytona International Speedway isn't called the World Center of Racing for nothing, that's for certain. It's an iconic track and the Daytona 500 -- NASCAR's Super Bowl -- is the perfect way to open up the NASCAR season. Let's fast forward from the first race to the last race now: The season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. While it's not considered a NASCAR Major in everyone's book (see what we do consider the four NASCAR Majors here ), the final race of the season is a bucket list item simply for the sake of it being the race that ultimately decides the NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. Judging by the exciting, nail-biting atmosphere it created last season with four drivers all vying for the title, Homestead's popularity and hype is bound to increase. Not to mention its located in beautiful south Florida -- so why not make a vacation out of it?
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 17, 2015) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee going into the IRWIN Tools Night Race on August 22 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). BRISTOL-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 CHEEZ-It Ford) · Six top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.667, sixth-best · Average Running Position of 13.535, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 92.3, eighth-best · 334 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.708, ninth-fastest · 7246 Laps in the Top 15 (68.8), fourth-most · 588 Quality Passes, fifth-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 SKITTLES Toyota) · Five wins, eight top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 12.150, fourth-best · Average Running Position of 13.724, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 100.0, third-best · 610 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.791, fifth-fastest · 6344 Laps in the Top 15 (63.3), ninth-most · 498 Quality Passes, eighth-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · Five wins, eight top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.952, 10th-best · Average Running Position of 13.572, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 92.6, sixth-best · 408 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.765, sixth-fastest · 6859 Laps in the Top 15 (65.2), seventh-most · 633 Quality Passes, third-most Dale Earnhardt Jr (No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet) · One win, seven top fives, 14 top 10s · Average finish of 12.095, third-best · Average Running Position of 14.977, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 87.2, 13th-best · 249 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.720, eighth-fastest · 6071 Laps in the Top 15 (57.7), 11th-most · 539 Quality Passes, sixth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 STANLEY Toyota) · Three wins, five top fives, nine top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 14.333, seventh-best · Average Running Position of 13.977, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 90.6, 10th-best · 443 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.690, 10th-fastest · 7012 Laps in the Top 15 (66.6), sixth-most · 489 Quality Passes, 10th-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet) · Five wins, 17 top fives, 25 top 10s; five poles · Average finish of 12.333, fifth-best · Average Running Position of 9.954, second-best · Driver Rating of 100.3, second-best · 455 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.905, third-fastest · 8324 Laps in the Top 15 (79.1), second-most · 662 Quality Passes, second-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · One win, four top fives, eight top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.368, 12th-best · Average Running Position of 16.077, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 87.9, 12th-best · 399 Fastest Laps Run, second-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.675, 11th-fastest · 5373 Laps in the Top 15 (56.4), 13th-most · 461 Quality Passes, 11th-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet) · One win, nine top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.143, 11th-best · Average Running Position of 13.038, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 92.5, seventh-best · 460 Fastest Laps Run, third-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.874, fourth-fastest · 6742 Laps in the Top 15 (64.0), eighth-most · 527 Quality Passes, seventh-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet) · One win, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 15.143, ninth-best · Average Running Position of 13.356, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 92.3, ninth-best · 549 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.634, 12th-fastest · 7069 Laps in the Top 15 (67.2), fifth-most · 496 Quality Passes, ninth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips Chevrolet) · One win, five top fives, ten top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.476, 13th-best · Average Running Position of 16.578, 13th-best · Driver Rating of 88.1, 11th-best · 474 Fastest Laps Run, series-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.618, 13th-fastest · 5948 Laps in the Top 15 (56.5), 12th-most · 616 Quality Passes, fourth-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota) · Four wins, 13 top fives, 20 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 11.333, second-best · Average Running Position of 9.821, series-best · Driver Rating of 104.6, series-best · 582 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.981, second-fastest · 8699 Laps in the Top 15 (82.6), series-most · 678 Quality Passes, series-most Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford) · Two wins, four top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 15.091, eighth-best · Average Running Position of 14.249, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 93.3, fifth-best · 212 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 115.721, seventh-fastest · 3323 Laps in the Top 15 (60.3), 10th-most · 393 Quality Passes, 12th-most Kyle Larson (No. 42 Target Chevrolet) · Two top 10s · Average finish of 9.667, series-best · Average Running Position of 11.383, third-best · Driver Rating of 99.0, fourth-best · 77 Fastest Laps Run, 13th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 116.278, series-fastest · 1169 Laps in the Top 15 (77.2), third-most · 144 Quality Passes, 13th-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 21 1 1 5 6 3 17.1 92.5 2 Joey Logano 13 1 1 2 3 1 20.0 80.1 3 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 21 0 0 4 10 1 12.1 87.2 4 Martin Truex Jr . 19 0 0 2 2 2 20.7 80.0 5 Brad Keselowski 11 0 2 4 4 0 15.1 93.3 6 Jimmie Johnson 21 1 1 7 11 1 15.1 92.3 7 Matt Kenseth 21 2 4 9 14 2 11.3 104.6 8 Kurt Busch 21 1 1 4 9 1 16.0 92.6 9 Denny Hamlin 19 2 1 4 8 2 17.4 87.9 10 Jamie McMurray 21 0 0 2 7 1 19.1 79.5 * – Based on last 21 races at Bristol Motor Speedway (2005 – 2015). Bristol Motor Speedway Data Season Race #: 24 of 36 (08-22-15) Track Size : 0.533-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2 : 24-28 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4 : 24-28 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 4-8 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 4-8 degrees Frontstretch Length : 650 feet Backstretch Length : 650 feet Race Length : 500 laps / 266.5 miles Top 10 Active Driver Ratings at Bristol Matt Kenseth ............................. 104.6 Jeff Gordon .............................. 100.3 Kyle Busch ............................... 100.0 Kyle Larson ................................ 99.0 Brad Keselowski ......................... 93.3 Kurt Busch .................................. 92.6 Kevin Harvick .............................. 92.5 Jimmie Johnson .......................... 92.3 Greg Biffle .................................. 92.3 Carl Edwards . ............................. 90.6 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2015 races (21 total) among active drivers at Bristol Motor Speedway Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Kevin Harvick , Chevrolet 131.362 mph, 14.607 secs. 08-22-14 2014 race winner : Joey Logano , Ford 92.965 mph, (2:52:00), 08-23-14 Track qualifying record: Kevin Harvick , Chevrolet 131.362 mph, 14.607 secs. 08-22-14 Track race record: Charlie Glotzbach, Chevrolet 101.074 mph, (2:38:12), 07-11-71 At Bristol Motor Speedway: History · Groundbreaking for Bristol International Speedway, as Bristol Motor Speedway was originally known, took place in 1960. The track was an exact half-mile. · First NASCAR Sprint Cup race was July 30, 1961; Jack Smith won the event (with relief from Johnny Allen ). · All of the NSCS races have been scheduled for 500 laps, except for both races in 1976 and the second in 1977, which were 400 laps. · In the fall of 1969, the track was reshaped and re-measured to .533-miles. · The name changed to Bristol International Raceway in 1978. · The first night race was held in the fall of 1978. · The surface was changed from asphalt to concrete in 1992. · The name changed to Bristol Motor Speedway in May 1996. · The track was resurfaced between races in 2007, and the turns were ground down in 2012 to eliminate part of the progressive banking. Starts · There have been 109 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Bristol Motor Speedway since the first race in 1961, two races each season. · 436 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol; 304 in more than one. · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Bristol with 60. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 45 starts. · Jeff Gordon leads (active drivers) the series in average starting position at Bristol with a 7.667. · Ryan Newman leads the series (active drivers) with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Bristol without visiting Victory Lane at 27. · Paul Menard (16 starts) leads the series in starts with the fewest DNFs (0) at Bristol. · AJ Allmendinger made his first NASCAR Sprint Cup career start at Bristol (03/25/2007). Poles · Fred Lorenzen won the inaugural Coors Light pole with a speed of 79.225 mph in a Ford. · 48 different drivers have poles at Bristol, led by Mark Martin and Cale Yarborough with nine each. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five. · 10 different drivers have posted consecutive poles at Bristol Motor Speedway; Mark Martin is the only of the 10 to win four consecutive poles at Bristol: Fireball Roberts (swept 1962), Fred Lorenzen (swept 1963), Richard Petty (1967-’68), Bobby Allison (swept 1972), Cale Yarborough (swept 1973; swept 1977; swept 1980), Darrell Waltrip (swept 1981), Geoff Bodine (swept 1986), Mark Martin (swept 1995-1996– all four races; and swept 2009); Rusty Wallace (swept 1998), Jeff Gordon (swept 2002) and Denny Hamlin (fall 2013, spring 2014). · Youngest Bristol pole winner: Joey Logano (3/21/2010 – 19 years, 9 months, 25 days) – his first series career pole. · Oldest Bristol pole winner: Harry Gant (8/27/1994 – 54 years, 7 months, 17 days). · Seven different drivers have posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career pole at Bristol. Joey Logano is the only active driver to win his first NSCS career pole at Bristol (03/21/2010). Wins · 42 different drivers have won at Bristol, led by Darrell Waltrip (12). Kurt Busch , Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch each have five wins, the most among active drivers. · 12 drivers have won consecutive races at Bristol led by Darrell Waltrip with seven consecutive victories from 1981-1984. The other 11 are Fred Lorenzen (1963-1964 sweep), David Pearson (1968 sweep), Bobby Allison (1972 sweep), Cale Yarborough did it twice (1974 sweep and four straight from 1976-1977), Richard Petty (1975 sweep), Dale Earnhardt also did twice (1985 sweep and 1987 sweep), Alan Kulwicki (1992 sweep), Rusty Wallace (2000 sweep), Kurt Busch (2003 sweep and 2004 spring race), Kyle Busch (2009 sweep), and Brad Keselowski (2011 fall-2012 spring). · Youngest Bristol winner: Kyle Busch (03/25/2007 – 21 years, 10 months, 23 days). · Oldest Bristol winner: Dale Earnhardt (08/28/1999 – 48 years, 3 months, 30 days). · Five drivers have posted their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career win at Bristol Motor Speedway: Dale Earnhardt (04/01/1979), Rusty Wallace (04/06/1986), Ernie Irvan (03/25/1990), Elliott Sadler (03/25/2001) and Kurt Busch (03/24/2002). · Junior Johnson leads the series in car owner wins at Bristol with 16; Roger Penske and Jack Roush are tied among active car owners for the most wins at Bristol with 11 each. · The race winner has started from the pole 23 times (21.1%) - the most productive starting position. The last driver to win from the pole was Matt Kenseth earlier this season. · Five drivers have won from the pole position multiple times: Bobby Allison (1972 twice), Cale Yarborough (1973, 1977 twice, 1980), Darrell Waltrip (1981 twice, 1982), Rusty Wallace (1991, 1993, 1999, 2000) and Matt Kenseth (2005 and 2015). · 36 of the 109 (33%) races at Bristol have been won from the front row: Pole position (23 wins); second-place (13 wins). · 87 of the 109 (79.8%) races have been won from a top-10 starting position; including 54 from the first four spots. · Five of the 109 (4.5%) races have been won from a starting position outside the top 20; most recent was Dale Earnhardt Jr . in 2004 – he started 30th. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started is 38th, by Elliott Sadler in 2001. · Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Bristol; led by Chevrolet with 43 victories; followed by Ford (35), Dodge (8), Pontiac (8), Toyota (7), Buick (4), Plymouth (3) and Oldsmobile (1). · Four car numbers have produced eight or more Bristol NSCS wins: Car Number – (Number of Wins) – Most Recent Win o No. 11 - (19 wins) – Denny Hamlin , 2012 o No. 2 – (12 wins) – Brad Keselowski , 2012 o No. 17 – (eight wins) – Matt Kenseth , 2006 o No. 3 – (eight wins) – Dale Earnhardt, 1999 Additional Finishing Position Stats · Richard Petty leads the series in runner-up finishes at Bristol with 10; Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers with four. · Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty lead the series in top-five finishes at Bristol with 26 each. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 17; followed by Matt Kenseth (13). · Richard Petty has leads the series in top-10 finishes at Bristol with 37. Jeff Gordon leads the series among active drivers in top-10 finishes with 25; followed by Matt Kenseth (20). · Ricky Stenhouse Jr . leads the series (active drivers) in average finishing position at Bristol with an 9.200. Track/Event Specific Stats · Nine of the last 11 races have ended with a Margi
Eldora puts on another winner of a Trucks Series show Last week's visit to Eldora Speedway was the third consecutive year in which the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series raced on the half-mile dirt track. The 2015 event, which saw Christopher Bell hold off Bobby Pierce for the win, may have been the best race of the three. A good time is had by all each year, if Twitter reaction and turnout of stars is any indication. And we know Tony Stewart , owner of the Ohio facility, is interested in having stock cars grace his track. But is it a good idea? Should the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series or the NASCAR XFINITY Series host a race on dirt? Join NASCAR.com's Kathy Sheldon and Brad Norman in this debate, and leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Sheldon: Brad, you went to Eldora last week and have a first-hand account to share, but as someone watching on TV with most of NASCAR's fan base, I have two words: Heck yeah! Sliding, mud-slinging, back-to-our-roots racing at its finest came through again in the Wednesday night Truck Series race. At a time when tension flares between NASCAR's old guard fans and emerging generations and locations, dirt racing is an opportunity to showcase racing at its core, stripped down from all the rules packages and NASA-level tech that makes speedway racing thrilling to some old fashioned bumping, banging and racing that rewards the bold and brave drivers. Norman: You want a firsthand account of Eldora? I'll return your two words with two of my own: Awe. Some. Seriously, Eldora is a wonderful facility and the event was captivating. Magical, almost. That's why this should stay a once-a-year type of deal, Kathy. Drivers are split on this issue as well, but I agree with those like Austin Dillon (the event's first winner, mind you) that oversaturation is bad for the sport. Why make Eldora and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event less special? Why make it seem common? It's special, and there's nothing wrong with having a special event once a year. Sheldon: It's a good thought to keep things special, Brad, but I think we can have one dirt race a year in each series and still keep it special. We only have two road course races a year in Sprint Cup , and up until the latest Chase format, road course specialists often were brought in for those because they were so unique. Now many people are clamoring for a road race in the Chase. A dirt track sure would mix things up in the schedule, perhaps even giving a driver outside the usual suspects a shot at a Chase berth. Norman: I'm all for mixing things up, and you make some good points Kathy -- but I think the biggest follow-up question to your argument is also the biggest unknown. OK, let's have Sprint Cup and XFINITY on dirt. Where would the race be? Eldora? Hey, it's one of the best dirt track facilities in the region, probably the nation, and there's just no way it could support a Sprint Cup race. The infrastructure is simply not there, not to mention the seats. What about the haulers? The roads? If those are huge issues for Eldora -- one of the best -- then I don't think there's a dirt track in the world that could handle the crush. Sheldon: I have a venue suggestion: Birmingham International Raceway. It's been a horse track, a one-mile dirt oval, a half-mile dirt oval, a quarter-mile dirt oval and a five-eighths mile paved oval. NASCAR's premier series ran there in 1958 and 1961-68. The list of winners there: Fireball Roberts , Ned Jarrett, Jim Paschal, Richard Petty, Bobby Allison. It was home track to the Alabama Gang. Alas, the track was torn down in 2008-09, and a natatorium and track-and-field complex sits on the site now. But if Daytona can get a $400 million makeover, a big ol' track renovation is possible, too. If you build it, they will come! Norman: Sounds great! Now … who gets to tell a track president they are losing their date on the Sprint Cup calendar? I'd like to stay as far away from that one as possible. Because I think that's the final fallout piece. If NASCAR adds a race on dirt for the Sprint Cup Series or XFINITY Series, somewhere else has to go. Unless, of course, the sanctioning body is interested in adding more races to its calendar … in a time in which drivers think the number of races should scale back slightly. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
RELATED: What 'Rowdy' needs to make Chase Kyle Busch came up short in his attempt to win four consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota running out of fuel on the final lap of Sunday's Windows 10 400 at Pocono Raceway. Twelve drivers have won four or more consecutive premier series races. NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Cale Yarborough was the first, in 1976. Six-time series champ Jimmie Johnson was the most recent, in 2007. And then there was Billy Wade. Notable here because Wade's fourth and final win came in 1964 at Watkins Glen International, site of this weekend's Cheez-It 355 at the Glen (Sunday, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM). Driving for car owner Bud Moore, Wade strung together wins at Old Bridge (N.J.) Stadium, a half-mile oval; Bridgehampton (N.Y.) Raceway, a 2.85-mile road course; Islip (N.Y.) Speedway, which measured a mere two-tenths of a mile; and Watkins Glen. The stops were part of what was known as the "northern tour" for the series at that time; the four races came in a span of 10 days. Wade's success came against some of the series' toughest competition of the day. At Old Bridge, he outlasted Ned Jarrett; two days later he held off two-time series champ Buck Baker; on Wednesday evening he bested Jarrett once more; and on the following Sunday, Wade beat LeeRoy Yarbrough to the checkered flag. Lee and Richard Petty, David Pearson and Marvin Panch were among those also in the field for the four races. A native of Houston, Wade had won the NASCAR Rookie of the Year title the previous year, tops among a group that included Bobby Isaac, Larry Manning and J.D. McDuffie. Three of his four wins during the streak came from the pole position, including the victory at Watkins Glen. Although he competed in only 35 of the season's 62 events, Wade finished a career-best fourth in the final points standings. Sadly, those were the only victories of Wade's brief NASCAR career. Less than a year later, the 34-year-old was killed during a January 1965 tire test at Daytona International Speedway when his Mercury blew a right-front tire and slammed into the wall. According to reports, the wall had been built barely a month earlier as a safety measure to keep cars inside the 2.5-mile track. Wade was the fourth driver to lose his life on the track in less than a year's time. Two-time series champ Joe Weatherly was killed in a crash the previous January while racing at Riverside (Calif.) Raceway; Glenn " Fireball " Roberts died in July of '64 as a result of injuries suffered in a crash at Charlotte Motor Speedway earlier that season; and Jim Pardue, twice a winner, was killed when he crashed at CMS during a Sept. tire test in '64. Such tragedies did spur safety developments in the sport, such as the driver's side window net, the inner liner for tires and the fuel cell. Similar safety developments continue today, and were in evidence this past weekend at Pocono. When Brad Keselowski slid through his pit box during the race, he sent his crew scrambling. Jackman Braxton Bannon was upended and landed on his back; front tire carrier Jeremy Ogles, headed around the front of the car, managed to leap onto the hood of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford. No one was injured, and the crew, wearing helmets, managed to complete the pit stop. WATCH: Pocono pit problems for Keselowski Since 2002, NASCAR has required crewmen going over the wall to service a vehicle on pit road in all three national series, Sprint Cup , XFINITY and Camping World Truck s, to wear a helmet. More than a decade earlier, in 1991, pit road speed limits had been put into place. The action was taken after a crewman, Mike Rich, was killed on pit road at Atlanta in the season-ending race of 1990. Limiting pit road speed doesn't eliminate the danger, as the Keselowski incident clearly revealed. But it has, fortunately, lessened it considerably.
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
A statistical look ahead to the 17th race of the Sprint Cup season DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 29, 2015) – Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida going into the Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola on July 5 (7:45 p.m. ET on NBC). DAYTONA-SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 CHEEZ-IT Ford) · One win, three top fives, eight top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 19.2 · Average Running Position of 17.1, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 81.8, 12th-best · 85 Fastest Laps Run, third-most · 4,132 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.161 mph, sixth-fastest · 1,978 Laps in the Top 15 (52.7%), ninth-most · 2,382 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 12th-most Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota) · Three top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 15.5 · Average Running Position of 17.5, 11th-best · Driver Rating of 84.0, 10th-best · 82 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 3,939 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.212 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 · 71 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 3,864 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most · 2,161 Laps in the Top 15 (60.9%), sixth-most · 2,724 Quality Passes, seventh-most Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries 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 · 4,023 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.207 mph, third-fastest · Series-high 2,488 Laps in the Top 15 (70.1%) · 2,869 Quality Passes, fourth-most Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 Nationwide Stars and Stripes Chevrolet) · Three wins, 12 top fives, 18 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 13.1 · Average Running Position of 14.1, second-best · Driver Rating of 91.9, second-best · 89 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · 4,353 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.086 mph, 10th-fastest · 2,475 Laps in the Top 15 (66.0%), second-most · 2,968 Quality Passes, second-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet) · Six wins, 13 top fives, 20 top 10s; four poles · Average finish of 16.6 · Average Running Position of 14.3, third-best · Driver Rating of 88.0, fifth-best · 4,157 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · 2,274 Laps in the Top 15 (60.6%), fifth-most · 2,709 Quality Passes, eighth-most Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota) · Four top fives, five top 10s · Average finish of 18.7 · Average Running Position of 15.4, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 87.7, seventh-best · 82 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 4,018 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.154 mph, seventh-fastest · 1,901 Laps in the Top 15 (56.1%), 12th-most · 2,444 Quality Passes, 11th-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet) · Three wins, 10 top fives, 13 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 17.5 · Average Running Position of 14.6, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 87.9, sixth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.067 mph, 12th-fastest · 2,378 Laps in the Top 15 (63.4%), third-most · 2,753 Quality Passes, sixth-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips-Shark Week Chevrolet) · Two top fives, eight top 10s · Average finish of 19.4 · Average Running Position of 16.6, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 83.3, 11th-best · 71 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 4,572 Green Flag Passes, second-most · 2,001 Laps in the Top 15 (53.3%), seventh-most · 2,825 Quality Passes, fifth-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 DeWalt Made In The USA Toyota) · Two wins, six top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 17.8 · Average Running Position of 15.3, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 89.9, fourth-best · 80 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · 2,277 Laps in the Top 15 (60.7%), fourth-most · 2,556 Quality Passes, ninth-most Joey Logano (No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford) · One win, three top fives, four top 10s · Average finish of 18.3 · Average Running Position of 16.5, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 85.8, ninth-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 190.144 mph, eighth-fastest Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet) · Four wins, nine top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 18.5 · Driver Rating of 86.6, eighth-best · 76 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · 1,958 Laps in the Top 15 (52.2%), 10th-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 10 at Daytona International Speedway Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 28 1 2 7 12 3 16.2 81.6 2 Martin Truex Jr. 20 1 0 0 2 4 22.5 76.7 3 Joey Logano 13 0 1 3 4 2 18.3 85.8 4 Jimmie Johnson 27 2 3 10 13 6 17.5 87.9 5 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 31 1 3 12 18 3 13.1 91.9 6 Brad Keselowski 12 0 0 2 3 4 21.8 75.5 7 Jamie McMurray 25 0 2 3 5 8 23.7 79.5 8 Kasey Kahne 23 0 0 2 8 5 19.4 83.3 9 Matt Kenseth 31 1 2 6 14 5 17.8 89.9 10 Kurt Busch 28 0 0 11 14 1 17.5 90.5 * – Based on last 21 races at Daytona International Speedway. Daytona International Speedway Data Season Race #: 17 of 36 (07-05-15) Track Size : 2.5-mile Banking/Turns 1 & 2 : 31 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4 : 31 degrees Banking/Straights : 3 degrees Banking/Tri-Oval : 18 degrees Frontstretch Length : 3,800 feet Backstretch Length : 3,000 feet Race Length : 160 laps / 400 miles Top 10 Driver Ratings at Daytona Kyle Busch ................................. 96.2 Dale Earnhardt Jr ........................ 91.9 Kurt Busch. ................................. 90.5 Matt Kenseth .............................. 89.9 Jeff Gordon ................................ 88.0 Jimmie Johnson .......................... 87.9 Denny Hamlin ............................. 87.7 Tony Stewart ............................... 86.6 Joey Logano .............................. 85.8 Clint Bowyer ............................... 84.0 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2015 races (21 total) among active drivers at Daytona International Speedway. Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : David Gilliland, Ford 199.322 mph, 45.153 secs 07-04-14 2014 race winner : Aric Almirola, Ford 130.014 mph, (02:09:13), 07-06-14 Track qualifying record (July race): Cale Yarborough, Ford 203.519 mph, 44.222 secs 07-02-86 Track race record (July race): Bobby Allison, Mercury 173.473 mph, (02:18:21), 07-04-80 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 the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, 1959 – won by Bob Welborn . · The first summer race at Daytona International Speedway was held on July 4, 1959 – won by Fireball Roberts (140.581 mph). · NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty won his 200th career race on July 4, 1984 at Daytona. · Lights were installed in the spring of 1998. However, the July race was delayed until October that year due to thick smoke from wildfires. The second Daytona race has been held under the lights ever since. · The track underwent a repave in 2010. Starts · There have been 136 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona International Speedway since the track hosted its first race in 1959: 57 have been 500 miles, 52 were 400 miles and four 250 miles. There were also 23 qualifier races that were point races. · 445 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series July race at Daytona International Speedway; 277 in more than one. · Richard Petty leads the series in July race starts at Daytona with 32. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 22 starts – this weekend will be Gordon’s final start at Daytona. · Four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series active drivers have made their first career start at Daytona International Speedway, though none were during the July race: Tony Stewart (2/14/99), Casey Mears (2/16/03), Kasey Kahne (2/15/04), Brendan Gaughan (2/15/04) Danica Patrick (2/27/12), Alex Bowman (2/23/14), Michael Annett (2/23/14). Poles · Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole for the July race at Daytona in 1959 with a speed of 144.997 mph. · 38 drivers have Coors Light poles at Daytona for the July event, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough with eight. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in Daytona July race poles, with two. Gordon started first in 2007 due to qualifying being cancelled as well. · Three drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles for the July race at Daytona: Cale Yarborough (1970-’71; 1980-’81, 1983-’84), Sterling Marlin (1991-’92) and Dale Earnhardt (1994-’95). · Youngest Daytona July race pole winner: Jeff Gordon (07/06/1996 - 24 years, 11 months, 2 days); all-time track record belongs to Austin Dillon (02/23/2014 – 23 years, 9 months, 27 days). · Oldest Daytona pole winner: Mark Martin (07/02/2011 – 52 years, 5 months, 23 days). · Six active drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Daytona International Speedway: Greg Biffle (2/15/04), Kevin Harvick (7/6/02), Jimmie Johnson (2/17/02), Paul Menard (7/5/08), Danica Patrick (2/24/13) and Austin Dillon (2/23/2014). Wins Drivers who have swept both races (Daytona 500 and the July race) at Daytona: Fireball Roberts – 1962 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 250) Cale Yarborough – 1968 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 400) LeeRoy Yarborough – 1969 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 400) Bobbie Allison – 1982 (Daytona 500, Firecracker 400) Jimmie Johnson – 2013 (Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola) 35 different drivers have won the July race at Daytona International Speedway, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson with five wins. Tony Stewart leads all active drivers with four; followed by Jeff Gordon with three. · Five drivers have posted consecutive wins in the July race at Daytona International Speedway, including three consecutive by David Pearson (1972 - 1974). · Tony Stewart (2005-’06) is the only active driver to win consecutive July races at Daytona. · Youngest Daytona July race winner: Kyle Busch (07/01/2008 – 23 years, 2 months, 3 days); all-time track record - Trevor Bayne (02/20/2011 – 20 years, 0 months, 1 day). · Oldest Daytona July race winner: Bobby Allison (07/04/1987 – 49 years, 7 months, 1 day); all-time track record - Bobby Allison (02/14/1988 – 50 years, 5 months, 23 days). · The Wood Brothers have the most wins at Daytona in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 15; followed by Hendrick Motorsports with 13. · Seven different manufacturers have won the July NSCS race at Daytona: Manufacturer Daytona July Race Wins Chevrolet 18 Ford 17 Mercury 7 Dodge 5 Pontiac 5 Buick 3 Toyota 1 Eight of the 56 (14.2%) July NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Kevin Harvick in 2010. · The Coors Light pole is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (eight) than any other starting position in the July race at Daytona International Speedway. · 15 of the 56 (26.7%) July NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona have been won from the front row: eight from the pole and seven from second-place. · 41 of the 56 (73.2%) July NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Daytona have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Four of the 56 (7.1%) July NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Daytona have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Daytona is 42nd, by Tony Stewart in the 2012 July race. · Four active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Daytona International Speedway; two were during the July race: Trevor Bayne (2/20/11), Greg Biffle (7/5/03), David Ragan (7/2/11) and Michael Waltrip (2/18/01). · Greg Biffle won the July race at Daytona in his first appearance. · Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Daytona with 710 laps led in 45 starts. · Tony Stewart leads the series among active drivers in laps led in the July race at Daytona with 369; followed by Jeff Gordon with 318 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 243. · Fewest laps led by a July race winner at Daytona are one lap led by Jimmy Spencer in 1994. The fewest laps led by an active July race winner at Daytona are three laps led by Jamie McMurray in 2007. Additional Finishing Position Stats · Buddy Baker leads the series in runner-up finishes in the July race at Daytona with five; followed by Richard Petty and Sterling Marlin with four. Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch lead all active drivers with two each. · NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson leads the series in top-five finishes in the July race at Daytona with 13; followed by Richard Petty with 12. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven. Additional Finishing Position Stats · David Pearson leads the series in top-10 finishes in the July race at Daytona with 19; followed by Dale Earnhardt with 18. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 11. · Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Daytona with a 9.926. · Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Daytona with a 13.065. · Kurt Busch leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Daytona without visiting Victory Lane at 28. Female Competitor Stats · Five female drivers have competed in the July event at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie, Christine Beckers, Lella Lombardi, Patty Moise and Shawna Robinson. Below they are ordered by best finish: Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Danica Patrick 29 8 7/6/2014 Danica Patrick 11 14 7/6/2013 Shawna Robinson 27 40 7/6/2002 Patty Moise 35 39 7/1/1989 Patty Moise 33 26 7/2/1988 Janet Guthrie 36 11 7/4/1978 Christine Beckers 37 37 7/4/1977 Janet Guthrie 20 40 7/4/1977 Lella Lombardi 29 31 7/4/1977 Janet Guthrie 33 15 7/4/1976 Track Event Stats · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway for the July race was the July 7, 2007 race won by Jamie McMurray over
See how the rookie meeting has evolved over the years RELATED: Labonte's crash still impacts rookies " Youngest, oldest rookie winners One by one, before the first engine has fired and the first car has hit the track, they gather in the NASCAR hauler parked inside the garage. It's a scene repeated every weekend when NASCAR rolls into town. Their levels of experience often differ quite a bit. There are champions and those with numerous starts in lower series seated alongside those with limited experience and much less success. Yet here everyone is treated the same. And everyone carries the same label -- rookie. • • • "A lot of stuff happens fast here," Richard Buck, NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series managing director, tells the group that's gathered on a cool, damp Friday morning at Martinsville Speedway . Each driver has been given several sheets of paper showing diagrams that include the placement of timing and commitment lines, pit entrance and exit and the proper route to enter and exit pit road from the garage area. It's information that is track-specific. While the basic processes that take place during any given race weekend are relatively the same, there are certain details at each venue that those with limited experience need to know. Proper procedures are explained and advice is doled out. "Use your hand signals so you don't start to slow down and get all jammed up and have somebody's radiator in your backseat," Buck tells the drivers. Each week, a veteran driver will also attend the meetings to offer pointers and answer any questions a rookie driver might have. At Martinsville, 2004 premier series champion Kurt Busch was on hand. "Those of you that have made laps around here before, you know how quick it is," Busch said of the series' shortest venue. "It's an awkward track. There's no other place that really compares to this. So the thing you have to do is to get comfortable with the surroundings." Busch said he would often walk around tracks "even if I've been here before" to reinforce the information given during the meeting. "Have your spotters communicate to you where the holes are when you pull out ... your tires will be ice cold here ... they won't help you do much turning when you get into (Turns) 3 and 4 ... but if you're consciously making an effort to warm up your tires, somebody's going to be right on your bumper and it's going to be chaos," he said. Busch also urged them to take note of the commitment and blend lines at Martinsville. "It's the same Turn 2 line that's painted at Bristol," he said later. "But at Bristol, you have two pit roads (one on the frontstretch and one on the backstretch). It's the same line in the same place and it means two different things." Drivers' left-side tires must touch the blend line near Turn 2 at Martinsville before pulling up onto the track. A similar line at Bristol signifies the pit entrance on the backstretch -- touching any portion of it without proceeding onto pit road will result in a commitment line violation. "Now they'll go to Bristol (in two weeks)," Busch said, "and they need to remember." • • • So what constitutes a rookie in the eyes of NASCAR? In most cases, it's up to the discretion of the series director and is based on the individual's prior experience. Matt DiBenedetto , 23, made his first Sprint Cup Series start this year after running the bulk of the races (29 of 33) in the XFINITY Series last season. Brett Moffitt , 22, made seven Sprint Cup Series starts in 2014. Between 2009 and 2013 he made just one XFINITY Series start and two in the Camping World Truck Series. Both are among those competing for this year's Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in Sprint Cup , along with Jeb Burton , Tanner Berryhill and Alex Kennedy . To be eligible for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, a driver must attempt to qualify in at least eight of the first 20 points races. A 10-1 point system, separate from the NASCAR championship driver points format, is used for scoring rookies in each race. The highest finishing rookie receives 10 points, second highest receives nine, etc. Only the top 17 finishes by each driver count toward his or her points total at the end of the year. Bonus points are also awarded for attempts, finishing inside the top 10 and upon the completion of the final race of the season. A panel then grades each rookie on conduct with officials, conduct and awareness on the track, personal appearance and relationship with the media. Points awarded by the panel are then averaged and added to each driver's total, and the driver with the most points is the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award recipient. Jeb Burton is one of five rookies this year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. • • • Of course, it wasn't always that way. In 1959, Darlington Raceway , in conjunction with sponsor Pure Oil (later to become Union 76), debuted the Darlington Record Club. Members were those that had qualified highest for each auto manufacturer during time trials for the annual Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway . Special recognition went to those that established track records there as well. While NASCAR had been selecting a rookie of the year for nearly a decade -- Rocky Mount, North Carolina's Blackie Pitt was the first recipient in 1954 –- the Union 76/Darlington Record Club was eventually tasked with monitoring the progress of rookie drivers on the uniquely shaped, treacherous 1.366-mile track. What began as an effort between driver Glenn " Fireball " Roberts and NASCAR official John Bruner Sr., to observe new drivers eventually evolved into a panel of Record Club members whose job was to either pass or fail those drivers attempt to make their Southern 500 debuts. (It's worth noting that the club also played a crucial role in requiring all drivers to complete a physical examination before being allowed to compete at Darlington. Today, a physical examination is mandatory for all three national series prior to the start of each season.) Before the Record Club came into existence, "you just went down there and run," said NASCAR Hall of Fame member Richard Petty, a seven-time NASCAR premier series champion and winner of the 1967 Southern 500. "(The Record Club) was good public relations. It gave those (rookies) something they had to do. Indianapolis (home of the Indianapolis 500) always had a rookie test you had to pass before you could go out and run. Well, we said if they can do it, we can do it, too. "Back then, (Darlington) was a one-groove track through (Turns) 3 and 4, which is now 1-2. We'd explain what you had to do to pass people or let people pass you. Then you just said, 'OK, now go out and run.' " To pass the test, drivers new to the series were required to run within a percentage of a pre-determined speed. "If we were running 130 mph," Petty said, "they would have to run 125 or something like that. Then they'd go out and run six or eight laps on the track by themselves." "It was a little easier to show up at Daytona with a car even though you may not have that much experience and get in the race," three-time series champion and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Darrell Waltrip said. "But they really observed you. If you were somebody new that they didn't know and you showed up at the track, they'd have some drivers that would kind of see how you did, see if you could handle the track and the speed and all that. There was always somebody watching you, but Darlington was the only official test we took." The panel would make its recommendations to NASCAR, but it was up to Bruner, a former flagman who eventually became Chief Steward for the sanctioning body, to make the final call. Richard Petty, who won the Southern 500 in 1967, used to show rookies the ropes at the iconic track. • • • In 1976, the Record Club's competition panel began overseeing the rookie program. Nearly a decade later, one of racing's greatest figures found himself labeled a rookie, and was required to go through the orientation process. Far from being a rookie, Anthony Joseph Foyt, better known simply as A.J., already had seven NASCAR premier series wins to his credit including a victory in the 1972 Daytona 500 . But Foyt, a four-time winner of the Indy 500 as well, had never raced at Darlington. "I am going to Darlington as a bonafide rookie. I don't want anything waived," Foyt told the press prior to his debut. "Why should I be different than anybody else? I know a lot of guys would have too much pride and ego to take the rookie test, but I'm not that type of person." NASCAR driver Ricky Rudd was the president of the Record Club at that time. Among the members of the competition panel were fellow drivers Waltrip and Buddy Baker. "Buddy and I and I forget who else, we observed A.J. Foyt and we flunked him his first day," Waltrip said. "Well, we told him we flunked him. "I told Buddy, I said 'Go down there and tell A.J. that we're going to have to have a meeting about his test because I'm not sure he passed.' Buddy looked at me and said 'Do you think I'm crazy? You go down there and tell him.' " Foyt passed the test, eventually finishing 25th in his only Southern 500 start. • • • Ken Schrader , a four-time race winner in NASCAR's premier series, was in that same rookie class with Foyt in 1985. Schrader posted three top-10 finishes that year en route to winning the Rookie of the Year title, beating out Eddie Bierschwale and Don Hume. Twice he served as president of the Record Club. "Yeah, I got elected president one time, then got elected president another time because at the banquet in Darlington I sat in the back and drank with the wrong group," the fun-loving Schrader said. "I was sitting with, I think, Phil Holmer and T. Wayne (Robertson) and some Unocal folks." Holmer was a Goodyear representative while Robertson headed up series sponsor R.J. Reynolds sports marketing arm. "They threw my ass right in," Schrader said of his election. "My acceptance speed, I stood up and said 'This is (expletive)!' "But the rookie meetings were neat. We'd just go in there, talk about the do's and don'ts for the tracks. Some of it was repetitious obviously but then there was so much about each individual track and it was the first time that some of those guys went to those tracks. Because back then not everybody then came through the Truck or ( XFINITY ) Series. "Now, hell, you're a rookie at a race, you've been to how many places (already)? You've probably raced there in some other series. "So it's a little different now." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule