Daytona 500 – Surprising Winners and Drivers Who Have Never Won the ‘Great American Race’
The Daytona 500, the granddaddy of all NASCAR races, is just around the corner. Drivers are already practicing and gearing up to spend about 2 weeks at the track that many only dream of conquering. While some of the best drivers in the sport have never won this race, others surprisingly have. Here’s a look at 5 surprising winners and 5 you might be surprised that haven’t.
Top 5 Suprising Winners
In only his second Sprint Cup start ever, Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 by using the tandem draft on the last two laps in one of the most surprising wins in NASCAR history.
Cope basically stole one from Dale Earnhardt Sr. back in 1990. On the last lap of the race, ‘The Intimidator’ was leading on the last lap when he cut a tire, and Cope cruised to a gifted win.
Waltrip had one of the most bitter sweet wins in NASCAR history. The winner of, now two, Daytona 500’s, got his first one in 2001 – the year that Dale Earnhardt Sr. lost his life on the last lap of the race.
In 2002, the older brother of Jeff Burton, Ward won the Daytona 500. It was the first year without longtime favorite Dale Earnhardt Sr, who crashed on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. After the win, Burton would not have a good year as he slipped to number 25 in the standings and never really was a factor in any race.
It wasn’t so much a surprise that he won the Daytona 500 in 1998, but it was how long it took for him to win it. Earnhardt lost the Daytona 500 in every way a driver can lose a race. Either he would cut a tire, crash, or simply be passed on the last lap. It is sort of ironic, that the track it took him so long to win the big race on, was the track that sadly took his life on the last lap, on the last corner.
Top 5 Drivers Who Have Not Won
Stewart has won 17 different events at the track, but has never won the Daytona 500 in the 13 races he has started. He almost won the 2012 race, only to lose because of the tandem drafting that has taken over the race in recent years.
In 23 races, Wallace could never get a win, even though he came close several times. The good thing for him, as that his 55 races won, were enough to get the ESPN analyst into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The Labonte brothers have a combined 43 starts in the Daytona 500, but zero wins.
Martin almost won the 2007 Daytona 500, but saw Kevin Harvick take the win from him on the very last straightaway. Like other drivers, the win has escaped him in so many ways.
‘The Gentlemen’ was inducted into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame back in 2011, but is another driver that has surprisingly not won the Daytona 500. However, one consolation is that he is the father of retired driver Dale Jarrett, who won the event 3 times – one of those times while Ned was in the booth calling the race.
So, there is a look at some surprising wins by drivers, as well as some surprising non winners at the Daytona 500.
Who do you think will win this year’s Daytona 500?