Daytona 500: Is Danica's Pole Position a Good Omen for Her?
The big news in the world of sports this past weekend was Danica Patrick winning the pole position for the upcoming Daytona 500. The “Go Daddy” pitch-girl will start from the No. 1 spot in Sunday’s race. She is the first woman to win a pole position in a NASCAR Sprint Cup series race.
Does starting from the pole position in the Daytona 500 translate to a successful race? If past history is any indication, not necessarily.
Looking at the results of the 12 pole-sitters in the past 12 races (since Jarrett won from the pole in 2000), only three of the 12 finished the race in the Top 10. Eight of the 12 finished the race in the Top 15. The average finish of the 12 pole-sitters since 2001 was 17th.
In 2009, Matt Kenseth won the race from the farthest starting position in the race history. Kenseth qualified 39th, but had to go back to the 43rd position due to changing to a back-up car.
Following are the Daytona 500 winners who won from the pole and those winners who started the furthest back in the pack.
Pole sitter victories
1962: “Fireball” Roberts
1966: Richard Petty
1968: Cale Yarborough
1980: Buddy Baker
1984: Cale Yarborough
1985: Bill Elliott
1987: Bill Elliott
1999: Jeff Gordon
2000: Dale Jarrett
Worst starting position to win Daytona 500
#43: Matt Kenseth, 2009
#34: Kevin Harvick, 2007
#33: Bobby Allison, 1978
#32: Benny Parsons, 1975
#32: Trevor Bayne, 2011
#19: LeeRoy Yarborough, 1969
Where will Danica Patrick finish in this year's Daytona 500?
#19: Michael Waltrip, 2001
#19: Ward Burton, 2002
#15: Lee Petty, 1959
#15: Jeff Gordon, 2005
Here’s a quick look at which pole positions have had the most victories in the Daytona 500. Of the 54 races, 39 (72.2 percent) of the race winners started in one of the first nine positions.
Pole Position, Daytona 500 wins
#1………. 9 wins
#2………. 7 wins
#3 through #9………. 23 wins (last year’s winner, Matt Kenseth, won the race starting from the fourth position)
#10 through #19………. 10 wins
#20 though #29………. 0 wins
#30 through #39………. 5 wins
#40 or more………. 0 wins
Note: Six of the last seven winners of the Daytona 500 were first-time winners.
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