NASCAR: Unluckiest Car Numbers on This Friday the 13th

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IMarch 13, 2009


Did I scare you?

It's Friday the 13th. A day filled with superstitions and "curses."

Why is Friday the 13th so unlucky?

Here are a few references to why the day became so "unlucky."

• There is a Biblical reference to the unlucky No. 13. Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th guest to the Last Supper.

• Numerologists consider 12 a "complete" number. There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles of Jesus. In exceeding 12 by one, 13's association with bad luck has to do with just being a little beyond completeness.

• A particularly bad Friday the 13th occurred in the Middle Ages. On a Friday the 13th in 1306, King Phillip of France arrested the revered Knights Templar and began torturing them, marking the occasion as a day of evil.

In rolling with the times, I decided to take a look at some of the "unluckiest" car numbers to ever take to the track in NASCAR.

It was a long and drawn out process (much longer than I wanted it to be for free), but I think I came up with a good system to figure out which car number has had the worst luck.

And by luck, I really mean the least amount of success.

So here's what I did.

I took all 115 cars that have ever run in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (the reason there are 115 is because several cars ran numbers such as 07, 09, 00 and so forth.)

After compiling all the stats I needed, starts, wins, top-fives, top-10s and poles, I came up with a formula.

It looked like this: (wins/starts) + (top-fives/starts) + (top-10s/starts) + (poles/starts).

(Basically, what I did was take the percentage of time each number win, or finished in the top-five or top-10 and sat on the pole.)

After putting each car through the formula, I was left with a number. I ranked the numbers from highest to lowest, with the lowest number being the least successful.

Unluckiest Car Numbers

In case you are thinking of starting a Sprint Cup team, the top number to stay away from appears to be 79.

The No. 79 came in at a pitiful .09. In 471 career starts, the number has visited Victory Lane zero times, has three top-fives and 39 top-10 finishes. The car number has also never sat on the pole, thus earning the honors of "Unluckiest Car Number."

Second place was tied at 0.11 with car numbers 65 and 52.

No. 65 has a considerably less amount of starts than 52 at 94 and 659, respectively.

The No. 65 has never visited Victory Lane, has one top-five and nine top-10 finishes, and has never sat on the pole.

The No. 52 has two wins, 11 top-fives, 60 top-10 finishes and one pole.

Rounding out the top 10 "unluckiest" numbers were:

3. No. 63 (0.12)

4. No. 66 and No. 01 (0.13)

5. No. 77 (0.14)

6. No. 61 and No. 13 (0.15)

7. No. 53 and No. 81 (0.16)

8. No. 96, No. 0, No. 09, No. 00, No. 58, and No. 74 (0.17)

9. No. 70 and No. 50 (0.18)

10. No. 57 (0.19)

Unluckiest Active Car Numbers

While the numbers above are interesting. I thought most would like to see what the "unluckiest" car numbers active today rank.

Among those cars, the two that scored the lowest were the No. 66 and No. 01, both of which managed a score of 0.13 and ranked fourth lowest overall.

The No. 66 has taken to the track 582 and visited Victory Lane once. The car has 11 top-fives, 59 top-10 finishes and five poles.

The No. 01 has 510 career starts with one win (although a second should have been granted last year at Talladega), 13 top-fives, 47 top-10 finishes and seven poles.

In third was the No. 77 car with an overall score of 0.14. The car number has visited Victory lane once, finished in the top-five 22 times, top-10 81 times and sat on the pole three times.

Tied for fourth place are the No. 96, No. 09 and No. 00. Of the three cars, the No. 96 is the only to win, doing so twice.

Luckiest Car Number

I know today is all about Friday the 13th and unlucky things, but as a side note, I decided to include the "luckiest" car numbers as well.

It's not surprise to see some of these car numbers near the top—most of which are still active today and/or have numerous championship runs.

Taking home top honors is the No. 11 with an overall score of 1.09.

This number has started 1,625 times in the Sprint Cup Series with 184 wins (11 percent), 625 top-fives (38 percent), 823 top-10 finishes (51 percent), and 135 poles.

With the names that have driven the wheel of the No. 11 car, it's no surprise to see it atop the most successful or "luckiest" since 1949.

Coming in at a close second was the No. 3 car with a score of 1.0.

We all know the success this car has seen, with the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. behind the wheel.

In 1,134 career starts, the No. 3 has visited Victory Lane 97 times (9 percent), finished in the top-five 367 times (32 percent), top-10 604 times (53 percent), and won 65 poles.

Rounding out the top-10 were:

3. No. 43 (.97)

4. No. 6 (.90)

5. No. 28 (.88)

6. No. 87 (.85)

7. No. 42 (.83)

8. No. 24 (.82)

9. No. 72 (.81)

10. No. 92 (.80)

As a note, the top-five active cars reside in the top-six all-time.

Just for Fun: How Fear of the No. 13 is Demonstrated

• More than 80 percent of high-rises lack a 13th floor.

• Many airports skip the 13th gate.

• Airplanes have no 13th aisle.

• Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13.

• Italians omit the number 13 from their national lottery.

• On streets in Florence, Italy, the house between number 12 and 14 is addressed as 12 and a half.

• Many cities do not have a 13th Street or a 13th Avenue.

• In France, socialites known as the quatorziens (fourteeners) once made themselves available as 14th guests to keep a dinner party from an unlucky fate.

• Many triskaidekaphobes, as those who fear the unlucky integer are known, point to the ill-fated mission to the moon, Apollo 13.

• If you have 13 letters in your name, you will have the devil's luck. Jack the Ripper, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Theodore Bundy, and Albert De Salvo all have 13 letters in their names.

Have a happy Friday the 13th!


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