Driver Handicaps: Daytona

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Driver Averages | Past Winners

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - This weekend the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads back to Daytona International Speedway for the Pepsi 400. To help you make your Dale Jr. Reality Cup Racing fantasy picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 160-lap event.

Who's HOT at Daytona
  • Jimmie Johnson has won the last two restrictor-plate races starting with the Daytona 500. He will be driving the same car that won the May race at Talladega.
  • Jeff Gordon has six wins, including three in the Pepsi 400 - last in 2004.
  • Tony Stewart is the defending race winner.
  • Sterling Marlin leads all active drivers with top fives (12) and races led (25).
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. has two wins and a 9.7 average finish in the last 10 races.

    Keep an Eye on at Daytona
  • Roush Racing: Ran up front in February and led laps with four cars. Biffle won this event in 2004.
  • Ryan Newman led Penske Racing to a third-place finish in the Daytona 500. He led 23 laps in the race, some with teammate Kurt Busch behind in the draft.
  • Although he has been put under the microscope for his restrictor-plate racing this year, Kyle Busch led laps in both the Shootout and his Gatorade Duel qualifying race and finished second in the Duel.
  • Michael Waltrip, a three-time Daytona winner, proved he could run up front with his new Dodge in the Shootout after leading three laps midway through the race. His 18th-place finish in the Daytona 500 is his best of the season in his new Dodge.
  • Elliott Sadler won his qualifying race and finished fourth in the Daytona 500. Robert Yates has proven successful at Daytona with Sadler and teammate, and four-time Daytona winner, Dale Jarrett.
  • Denny Hamlin won this year's Budweiser Shootout.
  • Clint Bowyer was the top finishing rookie in the Daytona 500.
  • Ken Schrader's ninth-place finish in the Daytona 500 is his only top 10 of 2006.
  • Kevin Harvick won a pole for this event in 2002 and has captured three top 10s.

    On a Roll
    Greg Biffle has scored the most points (968) over the last six races, winning one race and capturing six top 10s. Jimmie Johnson is right behind in points scored (913) with six top 10s. Jeff Burton is second among top 10s (five) and Kasey Kahne is the only multiple winner in the six-race span.

    Daytona Rookie Report
    Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. have experienced the most success at Daytona International Speedway, most recently with Hamlin winning the Budweiser Shootout. Truex won the 2005 July Busch race and is the only Rookie candidate with more than two NEXTEL Cup starts (points race) at Daytona. Clint Bowyer was the highest finishing rookie in this season's Daytona 500, finishing sixth. Bowyer and Reed Sorenson each have two top-10 finishes in the Busch Series at DIS, with Bowyer finishing third this year. J.J. Yeley, who finished eighth in February's Busch Race, has his best performance at Daytona in an ARCA car when he finished third in 2005.

    Track Performers
    Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in wins (10) and laps led (1172) on restrictor-plate tracks. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is second with seven wins and has the best average finish at 12.5 in 27 plate appearances (including NHIS in 2000). Dale Jarrett surpassed Sterling Marlin for third in career plate wins last October with his sixth win. Marlin is the active pole winner on plate tracks with seven. Jimmie Johnson became the eighth driver to win back-to-back restrictor-plate races, with his wins in this season's Daytona 500 and Aaron's 499.

    Qualifying Tidbits
    Jeff Burton won the pole for this year's Daytona 500 after turning the fastest NEXTEL Cup qualifying lap at Daytona in six years. It was the second consecutive pole for Chevrolet and fourth for Richard Childress Racing over the last 10 Daytona races. Tony Stewart is the defending Pepsi 400 pole winner. Sterling Marlin won the last pole for Dodge in 2001. Dale Jarrett is the last driver to sweep both poles at Daytona, accomplishing the feat in 2000. Past Pole Winners

    Daytona Loop Data Stat Leaders (Last Three Races)
  • Clint Bowyer is the fastest driver during first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop at 188.702 mph (Must have completed 75% of scheduled laps). Terry Labonte, Reed Sorenson, Bill Elliott and Denny Hamlin round out the top five.
  • Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart, respectively, hold an average running position of 5.6 and 6.9. They are the only drivers with an average below 10.0.
  • Kurt Busch is the fastest driver late in a run at 185.745 mph (Fastest speed during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop. Must have completed 75% of scheduled laps). Ryan Newman (185.585), Jimmie Johnson (185.529), Mark Martin (185.491) and Jamie McMurray (185.341) complete the top five.
  • Jeff Burton and Jimmie Johnson, respectively, have completed 1,007 and 955 quality passes (Passing a car running in the top 15 while under a green flag).
  • Tony Stewart has the best Driver Rating at 124.3.

    Dale Jr. Reality Cup Tiebreakers
    Last Five Number of Lead Changes
    2006-32
    2005-7
    2005-22
    2004-21
    2004-28

    Last Five Number of Cautions Laps
    2006-37
    2005-25
    2005-45
    2004-25
    2004-23

    RacingOne Staff Picks
    Jeff Wackerlin: Jeff Gordon
    Pete Pistone: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    Jorge Mondaca: Denny Hamlin
    J.J. O'Malley: Greg Biffle
    Shawn Akers: Jimmie Johnson

    More Driver Notes - In order of point standings
    1. Jimmie Johnson (Points: 2434): Johnson is the latest winner at Daytona International Speedway after leading 24 laps en route to his win in the 2006 Daytona 500. The win was his seventh top 10 in nine starts at the superspeedway. His previous best finish came in the 2004 Pepsi 400 after he started 19th and finished second to his teammate Jeff Gordon. Johnson's 7.0 average finish tops all drivers that have entered the last nine Daytona races. This weekend Johnson will drive the same car (chassis No. 48393) that won the last plate race at Talladega in May. The car will have a new paint scheme promoting SeaWorld's new Shamu show, "Believe."

    2. Matt Kenseth (Points Behind: -101): Kenseth's last of four top top-10 finishes at Daytona International Speedway came in the 2005 Pepsi 400. He will drive the same car (chassis RK-327) that led 28 laps before finishing 15th in this year's Daytona 500. The car will sport the colors of R+L Carriers for the second time in 2006.

    3. Kasey Kahne (Points Behind: -313): Kahne finished 11th in the 2006 Daytona 500, a career-best in five starts at Daytona International Speedway. He will be racing the same car (chassis No. 111) that finished 18th in the Budweiser Shootout in February. The car will sport a new paint scheme promoting a new advertising campaign for Chrysler.

    4. Mark Martin (Points Behind: -321): Martin will make his 43rd career start at Daytona International Speedway this weekend. He has never scored a victory in NEXTEL Cup competition at Daytona, but finished a best third in the 1995 Daytona 500. Overall, Martin has one pole, eight top-five and 15 top-10 finishes at DIS. Martin has finished in the top six in seven of the last 13 races at Daytona. He will pilot the same car (chassis RK-284) that led 18 laps and finished 12th in this year's Daytona 500.

    5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Points Behind: -329): Earnhardt Jr. will be making his 14th start at Daytona International Speedway, where he has two wins and nine top-10 finishes. His first Daytona victory came in the 2001 Pepsi 400 after leading a career-best 116 laps at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Saturday's Pepsi 400 will be Dale Jr's 27th superspeedway restrictor-plate race. His plate resumé consists of 811 laps led, 17 top 10s and seven wins. His finishing average at Daytona is 11.2, which leads all drivers that have started every race at Daytona since 2000. He will drive the same car (chassis No. 43) that finished second in the Budweiser Shootout earlier this season.

    6. Jeff Burton (Points Behind: -400): Burton won the pole in his 25th career start at Daytona International Speedway. He has one career win at DIS (2000 Pepsi 400) and seven top 10s all coming with Roush Racing. Burton has finished 29th, 11th and 32nd, respectively, in his last three starts at Daytona with Richard Childress Racing.

    7. Tony Stewart (Points Behind: -422): Stewart will make his 16th NEXTEL Cup start at Daytona International Speedway this weekend. Last July Stewart captured his first Daytona win after setting a record for most laps led in a Daytona 400-mile race, staying in front for a dominating 151 laps of the 160 circuit event. This year Stewart scored his eighth top 10 at Daytona with a fifth-place finish in the 500. In that race he also led 20 of his track total 395 laps. Stewart will be back behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 70) that competed in both plate races this season, finishing second most recently at Talladega.

    8. Jeff Gordon (Points Behind: -448): Gordon is seeking his fourth win in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. He led a career high 72 laps at Daytona in his first 400 win. He followed up his last Pepsi 400 win in 2004 with his third Daytona 500 win the next season. Overall, in 27 races (500 and 400), Gordon has six wins (most among active drivers), 15 top 10s and has held the lead in 20 races for 470 laps. His second and last DNF at Daytona came in the 2001 Daytona 500. His 14.7 finishing average is the best among all active drivers that have started every Daytona race since 1998.

    9. Greg Biffle (Points Behind: -467): Biffle captured his first NEXTEL Cup win in the 2003 Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway. The victory is his only top-10 finish in seven races at the famous speedway. It was also the first of two times that Biffle has led a lap at Daytona after he led for 21 circuits. Biffle, who started 16th and finished 31st in the 2006 Daytona 500, will race a new car (chassis No. RK-382) in the Pepsi 400. The car will carry the Subway colors.

    10. Kevin Harvick (Points Behind: -489): Harvick's best finish at Daytona International Speedway is a pair of fourth-place finishes in the 2003 and 2004 Daytona 500. He led a personal best at Daytona, 54 laps, in the 2003 Pepsi 400 and posted his best finish (ninth) in the 400-mile race. Harvick will be running the same chassis (No. 161) that finished 14th in this year's Daytona 500.

    12. Kyle Busch (Points Behind: -509): Kyle Busch has yet to post a top-20 finish in three starts at Daytona International Speedway. He will be driving the same car (chassis No. 362) that led four laps en route to a 15th-place finish in this year's Budweiser Shootout. The car will carry a Cheez-It paint scheme.

    13. Carl Edwards (Points Behind: -562): Edwards scored his best finish in three starts at Daytona International Speedway in last season's Daytona 500 when he finished 12th. His best performance at the speedway came in the Craftsman Truck Series when he won the 2004 Florida Dodge Dealers 250.

    14. Kurt Busch (Points Behind: -654): Busch scored a DNF (finished 38th) in his first start at Daytona International Speedway with Penske Racing after he was taken out by a crash on Lap 186. Over the last five years with Roush Racing, Busch captured four top fives, with a best finish of second, twice, most recently in the 2005 Daytona 500, where he made his best start at the track of 13th.

    15. Casey Mears (Points Behind: -677): Daytona International Speedway is the site of Mears' career-best NEXTEL Cup finish after taking the checkered flag second in the 2006 Daytona 500. The finish is his only top 10 in seven starts. Last year in this event, Mears recorded his only DNF at Daytona after finishing 43rd. This weekend Mears will be back behind the wheel of his second-place Daytona car (chassis No. 606) in the Pepsi 400.

    16. Jamie McMurray (Points Behind: -701): McMurray's only finish inside the top 30 in six starts at Daytona International Speedway came last July when he finished second. Prior to that event, he posted three DNFs - two for accidents and one for mechanical failure - with his best finish of 32nd coming in the 2005 Daytona 500. His first Daytona finish with Roush Racing this year resulted in another DNF after crashing on lap 186. He will drive the same car (chassis RK-328) that finished eighth in the Budweiser Shootout in February. The car will carry the Smirnoff Ice colors for the second time.

    17. Ryan Newman (Points Behind: -704): Newman captured his second top-10 finish at Daytona International Speedway with a career-best third-place finish in this year's Daytona 500. In that event, he also led more than two laps for the first time at DIS when he held the No. 12 Dodge up front for 23 laps. Newman does have two wins at DIS, one each in the ARCA and IROC series.

    19. Elliott Sadler (Points Behind: -790): In Sadler's last trip to Daytona International Speedway he won his qualifying race and finished fourth in the Daytona 500. The finish was Sadler's fourth top 10 in 15 starts. His best track finish was second in the 2002 Daytona 500.

    20. Brian Vickers (Points Behind: -815): Vickers scored his best finish (seventh) at Daytona International Speedway in this year's Daytona 500. In that event, Vickers also led his first laps (21) at the speedway in what was his fifth start.

    23. Dale Jarrett (Points Behind: -859): Jarrett has started in the last 31 consecutive races at Daytona International Speedway, and in total, has raced a Cup car at the track 38 times. In last year's 500-mile race he started on the pole for the fourth time in his career at Daytona, but failed to lead a lap and posted a 15th-place finish. He has, though, led a total of 333 laps in 13 races at the superspeedway en route to four victories. Overall, he has nine top fives and 17 top 10s at Daytona.

    25. Bobby Labonte (Points Behind: -922): Labonte will be making his second Daytona start with Petty Enterprises in Saturday's Pepsi 400. He finished 38th after getting caught up in an accident in February. Labonte, who was the fastest Dodge in Daytona 500 qualifying, has made 27 starts at Daytona International Speedway capturing eight top-10 finishes.

    28. Joe Nemechek (Points Behind: -1030): At Daytona International Speedway, Nemechek has started in 24 races since first appearing in the 1994 Pepsi 400. It took him 13 races to finish in the top 15 and since then he has only posted two top-10 finishes with a best finish of sixth at the track.

    29. Robby Gordon (Points Behind: -1063): Gordon's last two restrictor-plate races (Daytona and Talladega) have respectively resulted in a 13th and 10th-place finish - his best with his new team. Gordon's only top 10 at Daytona came with Richard Childress Racing in 2003 when he finished sixth.

    34. Sterling Marlin (Points Behind: -1169): Marlin has made 48 appearances at Daytona International Speedway since first racing there in 1980. The 2006 Pepsi 400 will mark Marlin's second race with MB2 Motorsports at DIS. In this year's Daytona 500 Marlin appeared to be on his way to a top-10 finish until he was collected in a wreck in the closing laps. He leads active drivers in the number of races led with 25, for a total of 589 laps. Marlin won three races at the track in the mid-90's and has 21 top-10 and 12 top-five finishes. In the early 90's, he started on the pole for three straight races and has a total of four pole awards at the track.

    35. Michael Waltrip (Points Behind: -1245): This weekend will mark Waltrip's 41st start at Daytona International Speedway, if he successfully qualifies for the field, and second in the No. 55 NAPA Dodge. So far Waltrip's 18th-place finish in the Daytona 500 is his best finish of the 2006 season. In a DEI Chevrolet, Waltrip captured five straight top-five finishes, which included three victories at DIS from 2001 to 2003. Since his last win, Waltrip has finished 11th or worse. Waltrip, who has led at least one lap (346 overall) in 15 Daytona races, led a career-high 99 laps when he won his only Pepsi 400 in 2002.
    
            
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