The 2023 500 Has A Number Of Interesting Angles

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, January 29 2023

Tiny Lund won in suspensful fashion for the Wood Brothers at Daytona in 1963. (Photo courtesy of Wood Brother Racing)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

When the flamboyant Darrell Waltrip captured his first-and only-Daytona 500 in 1989, the Kentucky native was quick to remind everyone it was his 17th attempt to win the Great American Race and he was driving Rick Hendrick’s No. 17 Chevrolet.

NASCAR numerology existed long before ol’ DW was cutting his racing teeth at historic Nashville Fairground Speedway in the early 1970s.

Everyone from a curious reporter in a press box to a veteran crew chief who turned one too many wrenches and started daydreaming has been hit with a variety of statistical anomalies on drivers who climb aboard high-powered stock cars and turn left for a living at a fast rate of speed.

As NASCAR prepares to launch its 75th season of existence next month, someone (apparently with too much time on his hands) determined the following during the soon-to-be history offseason:

Every winner of the Daytona 500 in a year ending with “3” has either won 7 Cup titles or has driven for the Wood Brothers. Come again?

Considering that next month’s 500 will be the 65th version of the crown jewel event, this statistic can’t possibly be accurate. Or can it?

Let’s take a look:

Marvin Panch was injured while driving a sports car he was testing at Daytona 10 days prior to the 1963 running of the 500. The Wood Brothers’ decision to put DeWayne “Tiny” Lund in their famous No. 21 Ford as the substitute driver paid off with a win in the sport’s biggest race.

Richard Petty, who would go on to win seven NASCAR Cup titles, scored a popular win in the 1973 Daytona 500 in front of more than 100,000 fans on a day when “The King” scorched the field, evidenced by the fact second-place finisher Bobby Isaac was two laps down at the finish.

Cale Yarborough had an interesting 500 in 1983. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

Cale Yarborough, who enjoyed a stint during his legendary career driving for the Wood Brothers, became the first driver in NASCAR history to run a qualifying lap of more than 200 miles per hour during front row qualifying for the 1983 Daytona 500. But Yarborough’s No. 28 Chevrolet Monte Carlo flipped on his second qualifying lap and left the South Carolina driver relegated to starting a backup car. Yarborough managed to work his way through the field and earn his third Daytona 500 victory. He would go onto win the 500 a fourth time the following year.

“It’s the Dale and Dale Show and you know who I’m pulling for” was uttered by CBS Sports analyst Ned Jarrett on the final lap of the 1993 Daytona 500 as he cheered his son, Dale Jarrett, to victory in Joe Gibbs’ No. 18 Chevrolet after fending off Dale Earnhardt. Jarrett’s win came two years after he scored his first career NASCAR Cup win in the Wood Brothers Ford at Michigan.

Two years after claiming his first win in the Great American Race, Michael Waltrip found himself in the right spot in 2003 when the rain fell enabling “Mikey” to collect his second Daytona 500 title in the No. 15 Dale Earnhardt Inc. Chevrolet. Waltrip’s first NASCAR Cup (non-points) win came during the running of the The Winston All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1996 when he wheeled the Wood Brothers’ Thunderbird to a big payday.

Danica Patrick created quite the stir when she placed the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet on the pole for the 2013 running of the 500. But it Jimmie Johnson, who would go on to win seven NASCAR Cup championship who scored the victory in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

So there you have it. Who will win this year’s Daytona 500 on Feb. 19th?

If you believe in numerology, bet the farm on Johnson (who is coming out of retirement to run a limited schedule this season), current Wood Brothers driver Harrison Burton or past Wood Brothers chauffeurs Ryan Blaney or Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, January 29 2023
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