Commentary

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Daytona 500

Updated: February 15, 2008, 5:46 PM ET
By Mark Garrow | Jayski.com

John Andretti
• In 23 starts here, Andretti has one win, which also accounts for his only top-10 here. He has completed 84.5 percent of the laps run, has led 138, and has an average finish of 27.2 with seven DNFs.

• He has four Nationwide Series starts here, with one top-10 finish.

Greg Biffle
• Biffle earned his first Cup series win at Daytona on July 5, 2003, in his rookie season.

• He earned his first Cup series pole at Daytona when he topped the speed charts in qualifying for the 2004 Daytona 500.

• In addition to Biffle's Cup win at Daytona, he also has a pair of second-place Nationwide finishes at the 2.5-mile oval.

• Other than the catch can position, Biffle's entire 2008 pit crew is new to the No. 16 3M team.

• This season, Biffle has been reunited with former car chief Bobby Bakeeff, who has taken a crew leader role. Bakeeff and Biffle worked together for several years, including the 2005 season, in which Biffle captured six wins.

• Biffle is racing in the Nationwide Series race here Saturday.

Dave Blaney
• Phil Moran has stepped into the position of car chief for the Caterpillar Racing team. Moran, a native of Colchester, Conn., was previously the Cup shop foreman at Bill Davis Racing. Jeremy Milless also has joined the team and will serve in the engineer position. Milless comes to BDR from the open-wheel ranks. The remainder of the team remains the same as last year.

• Blaney will make his 269th career Sprint Cup Series start when the green flag waves for the 500-mile event Sunday afternoon. He made his first Cup start in October 1992 at (Rockingham) North Carolina Speedway. In his first Cup start at Daytona, in 2000, he finished 27th after qualifying 31st. Like this weekend, Blaney was aboard a Bill Davis Racing machine.

• Blaney has made 16 Cup starts at Daytona, starting as high as fourth (summer 2000) and finishing as high as 14th (February 2005). Overall, he has three top-15 finishes and eight top-25s here.

Clint Bowyer
• Last year, in his second full season as a competitor in NASCAR's premier division, Bowyer recorded his first win, two poles, five top-5s and 17 top-10s. The 28-year-old driver finished third in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

• In five previous Cup starts on Daytona's high banks, including this year's Budweiser Shootout, Bowyer has logged a 22.2 starting average and a sturdy 10.6 average finish. Meanwhile, in six Nationwide Series races at DIS, he has an impressive 8.7 starting average and a head-turning 5.8 average finish. Dating back to February 2005, Bowyer has finished on the lead lap of all 11 races and has yet to finish worse than 18th.

• In addition to his duties behind the wheel of the Jack Daniel's Chevrolet, Bowyer will also race the No. 2 BB&T Chevrolet in the Camping World 300 Nationwide Series race Saturday.

Jeff Burton
• The 50th Daytona 500 will mark Burton's 476th career start in the Sprint Cup Series. This also will be Burton's 15th consecutive run in this prestigious event.

• Burton is a former winner at famed Daytona International Speedway. He claimed victory under the lights in the 2000 Pepsi 400. In 27 starts at DIS, Burton has posted one win, six top-5s and eight top-10s.

• Burton's average finish at DIS is 16.9.

• In addition to his Cup starts, Burton has four IROC starts here, with two top-5s and three top-10s, as well as eight Nationwide starts with two top-10s.

Kurt Busch
• Busch has 14 starts here, with six top-5 finishes, an average finish of 20.6 and one DNF.

• He has completed 93.5 percent of the possible laps and has led 157 laps here.

• Although Busch has no Nationwide starts here, he has one start in the Truck Series resulting in a top-10 and three IROC starts with two top-5s and three top-10s.

Kyle Busch
• Busch has led a total of nine laps in his three previous Daytona 500 starts.

• Busch has completed 91 percent of the laps run in his three Daytona 500 starts.

• In six total starts at DIS, Busch has two top-5s, an average finish of 20th and one DNF.

• He also has eight Nationwide Series starts here, with one win, an average finish of 21.6 and two DNFs.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
• After winning the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday, Earnhardt has 11 wins at Daytona. Notably, he won the Daytona 500 in 2004, the Pepsi 400 in 2001, two Budweiser Shootouts (2003 and 2008) and five Nationwide Series events. Earnhardt also won his Gatorade Duel qualifying races in 2003, 2004 and this year.

• Earnhardt has recorded six top-5s and nine top-10s and has led 319 laps in 16 Sprint Cup races at Daytona. His average start here is 11.9, his average finish 14.3. He recorded his only DNF last year when he was involved in a crash with seven laps left in the Daytona 500.

Carl Edwards
• Edwards will make his seventh Cup series start at Daytona International Speedway. In six Cup starts at Daytona, Edwards has one top-5, two top-10s and three top-15s.

• His best finish at Daytona came in July 2007 in the Pepsi 400, when he finished fourth while pushing teammate Jamie McMurray to victory.

• Edwards, the defending Nationwide Series champion, also is running that race Saturday. In six starts, he has two top-5s and three top-10s.

Dario Franchitti
• Franchitti will become the first European driver in the 59-year history of NASCAR to join the series full time, competing for the Sprint Cup Raybestos Rookie of the Year title along with running an assortment of Nationwide Series races.

• To date, Franchitti has made seven ARCA/NASCAR starts, beginning with the October ARCA race at Talladega last year. He finished the 2007 season with a Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway before taking on the final four Nationwide Series races at Memphis, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami. Last week, he continued his development with a 10th-place finish in the ARCA race at Daytona.

David Gilliland
• Gilliland is making his second Daytona 500 start and third overall at the track. He finished eighth in this event last year and 11th in the July event.

• Gilliland is strong in the restrictor-plate races, with a top-5 at Talladega and a pole position. He also earned the pole for this race last year.

• He also has two Nationwide starts here, including a top-10 finish, and will race in that series' race Saturday.

Jeff Gordon
• Gordon won the Daytona 500 in 1997, 1999 and 2005.

• Gordon has won more restrictor-plate races than anyone in NASCAR history, with 12 (six at Daytona and six at Talladega).

• In addition to the six wins in 30 Cup starts at Daytona, Gordon has 11 top-5s and 17 top-10s, 95.7 percent of the total laps completed, and 506 laps led. He also has only three DNFs.

Robby Gordon
• Gordon takes a positive step this year partnering with Gillett Evernham Motorsports and will race for Dodge Motorsports this season. Although still a single-car team, Gordon will receive support from GEM.

• In 16 starts here, Gordon has only one top-10, an average finish of 21.0 and three DNFs.

• Although not racing the Nationwide Series race here this weekend, Gordon does have four previous Nationwide starts at DIS, with one top-5 finish and two top-10s.

Denny Hamlin
• Despite a win in the Budweiser Shootout as a rookie, Hamlin's subsequent races at Daytona haven't yielded positive results. In four points races at DIS, Hamlin has an average finish of 29.5 despite a starting position of 8.5.

• Hamlin is running in the Nationwide Series race Saturday and, in five starts, has one top-10 finish and has completed all but two of the possible laps. His average Nationwide finish here is 20th.

Kevin Harvick
• In 13 Cup starts at Daytona, Harvick has posted one win (2007 Daytona 500), one pole, three top-5s and five top-10s. Additionally, Harvick has led 88 laps of competition and has completed 96.9 percent of all laps.

• In addition to his driving duties with the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet at Daytona, Harvick, a 32-time race winner in the Nationwide Series, also will drive the No. 33 Camping World Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc. on Saturday.

Sam Hornish Jr.
• In 2007, Hornish competed in the season-opening Nationwide Series race at Daytona, finishing 31st.

• The three-time IndyCar Series champion will compete for rookie of the year honors in the Cup series in 2008. He is one of several converted open-wheel drivers in the class and one of two Indianapolis 500 champions vying for the title.

• Hornish has two Cup starts, which came at Phoenix and Homestead at the end of the 2007 season. He averaged a start of 27.5 and a finish of 33.5 in those races.

Dale Jarrett
• Jarrett will make his 20th and final career start in the Daytona 500 this weekend. He is a three-time winner of the Great American Race (1993, 1996, 2000).

• Jarrett has made 41 career starts at Daytona International Speedway, winning four times and scoring 17 top-10 finishes. His average finish is 16.4, and he has seven DNFs to his credit.

Jimmie Johnson
• In 12 starts at Daytona, Johnson has completed all but 30 of 2,077 laps (98.6 percent). He owns one victory, five top-5s and eight top-10s.

• Johnson has won at least three races per season since he posted his first victory in 2002. He is the only driver in the modern era to win at least three races in each of his first six full-time seasons.

Kasey Kahne
• Kahne will be making his fifth start in the Daytona 500 and his ninth overall start at DIS. His best finish is a seventh-place showing in last year's Daytona 500.

• Both of Kahne's top-10 finishes at Daytona came in 2007. He followed up his fine Daytona 500 showing with a ninth-place finish in July.

Matt Kenseth
• The 2008 version of the "Killer Bees" (the over-the-wall crew) welcomes a new, but familiar face in front-tire carrier Garret Reding, who has been with the team since 2005. Of the 23 race-day crew members on the No. 17 team, 19 returned from 2007.

• Kenseth has three top-5s and six top-10s in the past 10 restrictor-plate races.

• Kenseth also will pilot the No. 17 Ritz Crackers Ford Fusion in the Nationwide Series race Saturday.

Travis Kvapil
• Kvapil returns to the Cup circuit after a year racing in the Craftsman Truck series. He has veteran crew chief Todd Parrott, who won the Daytona 500 twice with Dale Jarrett behind the wheel, to help guide him along the way.

• In four Daytona starts, Kvapil has an average finish of 24.8 and his best finish came in his first Cup race here (19th in 2005). He will look to stay out of trouble and a top-20 finish would be considered a nice showing.

Bobby Labonte
• Labonte has 30 starts at Daytona, with five top-5s and eight top-10s, an average finish of 23.2, and eight DNFs.

• Labonte has led 67 laps here and has completed 87.4 percent of the total possible laps.

• Labonte is racing in the Nationwide Series race Saturday with Richard Childress Racing. He has seven series starts here, with two top-5s.

Mark Martin
• Martin has led a combined 45 laps in his past two Daytona 500s, including 26 in last season's controversial second-place finish, when he was edged at the line by Kevin Harvick.

• Although last year's finish was Martin's best in Cup action at Daytona, he did win the Budweiser Shootout in 1999 and the Craftsman Truck event in 2006. In addition, Martin boasts two wins in the IROC series at Daytona (2003 and 2005).

Jeremy Mayfield
• Mayfield has 26 starts here, with two top-5s and six top-10s, plus an average finish of 21st with four DNFs.

Jamie McMurray
• McMurray has one victory, two top-5s and three top-10s in his past five starts at Daytona International Speedway. McMurray won the last race at DIS, in July, by .005 seconds.

• McMurray also is racing in the Nationwide Series race Saturday.

Casey Mears
• Mears will be making his sixth start in the Daytona 500 on Sunday. In his 10 Sprint Cup Series starts at Daytona, he has recorded two top-10 finishes, both in the 2006 season.

Paul Menard
• Menard is making his Daytona 500 debut Sunday. He does have one other start at DIS, having finished 21st in July 2007.
• Menard has six Nationwide Series starts here, with one top-10.

Juan Pablo Montoya
• Montoya will make his third Cup start at Daytona. He finished 19th last year in his inaugural 500 and 32nd in the July race.
• The last time Montoya raced at DIS, he earned his second consecutive Rolex 24 At Daytona victory with Sprint Cup teammate Dario Franchitti and Grand American drivers Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.

Joe Nemechek
• In 27 starts at Daytona, Nemechek has three top-10s, eight DNFs and an average finish of 25.3.
• Nemechek has two wins, four top-5s and four poles in 20 Nationwide Series starts at DIS.

Ryan Newman
• Newman has a top-5 and two top-10 finishes in seven Daytona 500 starts. He came close to winning in 2006, running up front for the final laps of the race but getting no drafting help, unlike eventual winner Jimmie Johnson. Newman finished third.
• The Daytona 500 marks Newman's first Cup series points race with crew chief Roy McCauley. They were teamed together on the Nationwide Series in 2005, with Newman winning six times in just nine starts.
• Newman won his first start at Daytona International Speedway -- in the ARCA Series in 2001.

Kyle Petty
• In 51 starts here, Petty has two top-5s, eight top-10s and 15 DNFs with an average finish of 22.6.
• It was here that Petty won in his very first stock car race, an ARCA event in 1979.

David Ragan
• He finished fifth in his Daytona 500 debut in 2007, then finished 12th in July's Pepsi 400.
• He was second in the 2007 Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year race to Juan Pablo Montoya, but won Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year.

David Reutimann
• Reutimann finished 40th and 29th, respectively, in the two races at Daytona last year.
• Reutimann is racing full time in both the Cup and Nationwide series again this year.

Scott Riggs
• Riggs is hoping to provide a boost for Haas CNC Racing, which has yet to enjoy any level of success in its previous five full-time seasons in the Sprint Cup series.

• Other than his fourth-place finish in the 2005 Daytona 500, Riggs hasn't finished better than 20th at DIS. Last year, he finished 37th and 41st in the two Daytona races. After a disappointing 2007 season, fantasy owners should take a wait-and-see approach on Riggs, as he attempts to regain his 2006 form, when he totaled 8 top-10 finishes.

Elliott Sadler
• Sadler has 18 starts at Daytona with three top-5s and six top-10s but two DNFs.
• His 17.4 average finish is the best of all non-Chevy drivers with at least 10 starts at DIS.

Regan Smith
• Smith is making his Daytona 500 debut this weekend, driving the #01 DEI Chevy.
• Smith does have six Nationwide Series starts at Daytona, with an average finish of 24th.

Reed Sorenson
• This will mark Sorenson's third Daytona 500 start. He finished 13th in 2007 and 29th in 2006.
• Sorenson recorded an impressive fifth-place finish in his first appearance at the Budweiser Shootout. He qualified for that event by capturing the pole for last year's Brickyard 400. Sorenson holds the record for the youngest pole winner, at 21 years of age, for any event in the 99-year history of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Tony Stewart
• Stewart has two wins at Daytona, both in the July race, and a runner-up finish at the 500 in 2004.
• Stewart will race Toyotas this year in the Cup series. The Camrys have worked well so far, with Stewart finishing second in the Budweiser Shootout last weekend.
• He has two wins in the Nationwide Series race at Daytona.

Martin Truex Jr.
• Truex has five starts at Daytona, with an average finish of 24.2 and a DNF.
• In six Nationwide Series races here, he has a win, three top-5s and five top-10s.

Brian Vickers
• In seven starts at Daytona, Vickers has two top-10s and an average finish of 21.7.
• Vickers is racing the Nationwide Series race Saturday. In six previous starts in that series at Daytona, he has two top-10s and a top-5.

Kenny Wallace
• Wallace has 18 Cup starts here with an average finish of 26.4 but six DNFs.
• Wallace is running the Nationwide Series race on Saturday.

Michael Waltrip
• Waltrip is one of only eight drivers to win two or more Daytona 500 titles.
• In 41 races at DIS, Waltrip has three wins, six top-5s and 12 top-10s. His average start at the track is 16th, and his average finish is 20th.

J.J. Yeley
• Yeley finished 12th in last year's Daytona 500. In three other starts at Daytona, Yeley has finished no better than 20th, and he has an overall average finish of 27.5.
• In Nationwide competition, Yeley has five starts, with two poles, one top-5 and two top-10s.

Mark Garrow covers fantasy racing for ESPN.com.

Mark Garrow

Fantasy Racing
Mark Garrow covers fantasy racing for ESPN.com.