In the Pits- KSR
The NASCAR numbers game
In December, NASCAR started counting down the days to the 50th Daytona 500 on Feb. 17. Each day highlighted a number that corresponds to the countdown number. Following are some of the “numbers” as of Feb. 3, exactly two weeks before “The Great American Race.”
• 14—It has been 451 races, more than 39 years, since the No. 14 was in Victory Lane. Bobby Allison won the last Grand National race at Montgomery Speedway in Tom Friedkin’s No. 14 Plymouth.
• 15—In his first race in the No. 15 car, Michael Waltrip won his first Cup race in his 463rd start, winning the 2001 Daytona 500. Waltrip is a two-time Daytona 500 champ and all four of his Cup victories in 689 starts have come in the No. 15.
• 18—In 1,033 races in NASCAR’s top division, the No. 18 has been taken to Victory Lane by only two drivers—Bobby Labonte (21 times) and Dale Jarrett (2).
• 20—Of the 33 Cup wins for the No. 20, Tony Stewart has all but one—the first one, which is registered by Marvin Panch in the 1961 Daytona 500. Stewart is 0-for-9 in The Great American Race.
• 21—The No. 21 is one of the most famous numbers in NASCAR. It has been to Victory Lane 90 times, fourth most in NASCAR’s top series. Leading the way is David Pearson, who won 43 of his 105 races in the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Mercury, with his first coming at Darlington on April 16, 1972. That began a remarkable run of 43 victories in 131 races in that car, ending at Michigan on Aug. 20, 1978.
• 22—Thirty of Fireball Roberts’ 33 Grand National victories came in the No. 22. His 33 wins are tied with two-time defending champ Jimmie Johnson for 18th all time.
• 24—Everyone knows the No. 24 is Jeff Gordon’s car, and Gordon is one of the most successful drivers in NASCAR history. But did you know that Gordon owns all 81 victories in the No. 24 in the number’s 1,090 Grand National/Cup races? And (bar-bet time) did you know that the No. 24 holds the record for most starts until its first victory at 623? Gordon’s first Cup victory came May 29, 1994, in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (now Lowe’s) Motor Speedway.
• 25—Let’s remember Tim Richmond. Of his 13 career wins, the final nine come in Rick Hendrick’s No. 25 Chevrolet, including a series-high seven in 1986.
• 28—The No. 28 is one of the most-storied numbers in NASCAR history. Its 78 Cup Series victories rank seventh all time, and its winners’ names read like a Who’s Who of NASCAR: Bobby Allison, Buddy Baker, Cale Yarborough, Dale Jarrett, Dan Gurney, Davey Allison, Ernie Irvan, Fred Lorenzen and Ricky Rudd.