The 2012 Daytona 500 has to be the craziest opener I've ever watched!
Click pic for fire footage
Here are some interesting statistics about past Daytona 500s.
The first Daytona 500 was held in 1959; it has been the season-opener only since 1982.
518 drivers have competed in at least one Daytona 500; 306 in more than one.
35 drivers have won a Daytona 500.
Youngest Daytona 500 winner: Trevor Bayne (02/20/2011 - 20 yrs, 0 mons, 1 day)
Oldest Daytona 500 winner: Bobby Allison (02/14/1988 - 50 yrs, 2 mons, 11 days)
8 drivers have won more than one Daytona 500, led by Richard Petty with 7 victories.
The 8 drivers who have won the Daytona 500 more than once: Richard Petty (7), Cale Yarborough (4), Bobby Allison (3), Dale Jarrett (3), Jeff Gordon (3), Bill Elliott (2), Sterling Marlin (2) and Michael Waltrip (2).
Dale Earnhardt leads the series in runner-up finishes in the Daytona 500 with 5; Kurt Busch leads all active drivers in Daytona 500 2nd-place finishes with 3.
Dale Earnhardt finished in the top 10 in 16 of his 23 Daytona 500s.
Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty each had 16 top 10s in the Daytona 500, more than any other driver.
Dale Earnhardt had 12 top 5s in the Daytona 500, more than any other driver.
Only 13 drivers have an average finish of 10th or better in the Daytona 500, 6 of those competed in the Daytona 500 only once.
Clint Bowyer has a 12.2 average finish in 6 appearances, the best of the active drivers who have competed in more than one Daytona 500.
Lee Petty, who won the inaugural Daytona 500, and Trevor Bayne, 2011 Daytona 500 champion, are the only 2 drivers to win the Daytona 500 in their first appearance.
28 of the 35 drivers who have won, participated in at least 2 Daytona 500s before visiting Victory Lane.
Dale Earnhardt competed 19 times before winning his only Daytona 500 (1998), the longest span of any of the 35 race winners.
6 drivers made 10 or more attempts before their first Daytona 500 victory: Dale Earnhardt (19), Buddy Baker (18), Darrell Waltrip (16), Bobby Allison (14), Michael Waltrip (14) and Sterling Marlin (12).
The most Daytona 500s all-time without a victory was Dave Marcis (33 races).
Mark Martin (27) leads active drivers without a victory.
6 drivers posted their career-first victory with a win in the Daytona 500: Tiny Lund (1963), Mario Andretti (1967), Pete Hamilton (1970), Derrike Cope (1990), Sterling Marlin (1994), Michael Waltrip (2001) and Trevor Bayne (2011).
3 other drivers posted their career-first victory in (point-paying) qualifying races: Johnny Rutherford (1963), Bobby Isaac (1964) and Earl Balmer (1966).
A driver has won back-to-back Daytona 500s three times. Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and Sterling Marlin (1994-95)
Kevin Harvick’s 0.020-second margin of victory over Mark Martin in the 2007 Daytona 500 is the 12th-closest overall since the advent of electronic timing in 1993, and the closest in a Daytona 500.
26 of the 53 Daytona 500s have been won from a top-5 starting position.
Matt Kenseth won the Daytona 500 from the 39th starting position in 2009, the deepest a race winner has started.
9 have been won from the pole. The last to do so was Dale Jarrett in 2000.
16 Daytona 500s have been won from the front row.
Danica Patrick will become the 3rd female driver to compete in a Daytona 500 joining Janet Guthrie and Shawna Robinson.
Daytona 500 winners.
Daytona can be very deadly, here are the stats on that:
Deaths at Daytona International Speedway
|2/18/2001||Dale Earnhardt Sr.||Final lap of the Daytona 500*|
|1/31/1997||Michael Himes||IMSA Endurance race|
|2/14/1994||Rodney Orr||Daytona 500 practice|
|2/11/1994||Neil Bonnett||Daytona 500 practice|
|2/12/1993||Joe Booher||Florida 200 Dash|
|2/11/1990||Julius Johnson||ARCA 200|
|2/17/1979||Don Williams||Sportsman 300 race|
|2/13/1987||Joe Young||Dash race|
|Feb. 1983||Bruce Jacobi||Daytona 500 qualifier|
|12/15/1985||Charles Ogle||Testing (stock car)|
|2/7/1985||Francis Affleck||ARCA practice|
|2/14/1980||Ricky Knotts||Daytona 500 qualifier|
|2/17/1972||Friday Hassler||Daytona 500 qualifier|
|7/30/1972||David Pearl||SCCA Paul Whiteman Trophy race|
|3/14/1971||Rusty Bradley||Daytona 200|
|2/19/1970||Tallmadge Prince||Daytona 500 qualifier|
|2/21/1969||Don MacTavish||Sportsman 300|
|1/5/1965||Billy Wade||Tire test (stock car)|
|2/21/1961||Harold Haberling||Daytona 500 practice|
|6/18/1960||Martin Every||Engineering test|
|4/4/1959||George Amick||USAC 100-mile race|
|2/11/1959||Marshall Teague||Daytona 500 practice|
*note: Dale Earnhardt was the only driver to be killed during the actual Daytona 500 race.