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Curator's Corner / Historic Moments

Top 10 List: Daytona Records

Daytona International Speedway was where drivers and teams made their marks on history with record-shattering runs.

With the NASCAR season set to kick off with the Daytona 500 in February 14th, this week’s Top 10 List focuses on records set at Daytona International Speedway, a track that has delivered fantastic finishes, high drama and lots of excitement for more than six decades.

Pete Hamilton’s first big NASCAR victory came in the 1970 Daytona 500, where he drove a Petty Enterprises Plymouth Superbird. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

10. Most Daytona 500 owner wins

Petty Enterprises set the gold standard with nine Daytona 500 race victories. Hall of Famer and family patriarch Lee Petty (2011) won the inaugural 500 in 1959. Son Richard Petty (2010) leads all drivers with seven wins in the Great American Race, while Pete Hamilton won the 1970 Daytona 500 in a Petty Enterprises Plymouth Superbird with Maurice Petty (2014) serving as crew chief.

9. Oldest Daytona 500 Winner

Old guys rule: Hall of Famer Bobby Allison (2011) was 50 years old when he won the 1988 Daytona 500. Making the story even more remarkable was that Allison’s son and fellow Hall of Famer Davey Allison (2019) finished second that day, making it the only father-son 1-2 in the race’s storied history.

After Trevor Bayne’s upset win in the 2011 Daytona 500, Richard Petty (center) personally walked Leonard Wood to Victory Lane for the Wood Brothers Racing celebration. Photo courtesy of Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

8. Youngest Daytona 500 Winner

Driving for Wood Brothers Racing, the team founded by Hall of Famer Glen Wood (2012) and run with his brothers, including Leonard Wood (2013), Trevor Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 one day after he turned 20 years old. Given that the Wood Brothers hadn’t won a race in nearly a decade and Bayne was making just his second premier series start, this was a huge upset.

7. Most July 4th Wins

From 1959 through 1987, the Firecracker 400 at Daytona was always run on July 4th proper, no matter what day of the week the Independence Day holiday fell on. And the driver who won the most Firecracker 400s was Hall of Famer David Pearson (2011), who took the checkered flag on five different occasions: 1961, 1972, ’73, ’74 and ’78.

One of Dale Earnhardt’s six IROC victories at Daytona came in 1999, when he beat Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin to take the checkered flag. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center via Getty Images

6. Most IROC Victories

The International Race of Champions, a series that featured the best drivers from a variety of disciplines competing in identically prepared cars, raced at Daytona from 1975 to 2006. Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt (2010) won six of the 26 IROC races at Daytona.

5. Fastest Pole Speed

Hall of Famer Bill Elliott (2015) set the qualifying mark at Daytona in 1987, when he wheeled Harry Melling’s Coors-sponsored No. 9 Ford Thunderbird to a pole speed of 210.364 mph. Elliott went on to win the race, his second Daytona 500, at an average speed of 176.263 mph. That was the second-fastest average speed for the Great American Race.

It was party time for Cale Yarborough and the crew from Junior Johnson & Associates after winning the 1976 Firecracker 400. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

4. Most Daytona Poles

One of the most impressive Daytona records belongs to Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough (2012), who was the No. 1 qualifier in 13 points races at the 2.5-mile track. Eight of those poles came in the July 4th Firecracker 400. Yarborough won four Daytona races from the pole, including the 1968 Daytona 500 when he drove for Wood Brothers Racing.

3. Largest Field

In the second running of the Daytona 500 in 1960, Hall of Famer Junior Johnson (2010) defeated a field of 68 drivers, including a dozen other Hall of Famers. It was the largest field ever in a Daytona premier series race. Bobby Johns finished second, 23 seconds behind Johnson, with Richard Petty (2010) third, one spot ahead of his father, Lee Petty (2011).

Buddy Baker and his Gray Ghost Oldsmobile set a Daytona 500 speed record that has stood for 41 years. Photo courtesy of NASCAR Archives & Research Center/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images

2. Fastest Daytona 500 Ever Run

Driving the iconic No. 28 “Gray Ghost” Oldsmobile prepared by fellow Hall of Fame Class of 2020 inductee Waddell Wilson, Buddy Baker won the 1980 Daytona 500 at an average speed of 177.602 mph. Baker, who drove for Ranier Racing, set the record despite five caution flags. Baker’s iconic Gray Ghost is now on display in the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Hall of Honor.

1. Most Records Held

Serious NASCAR fans know that Richard Petty (2010) holds the record for most Daytona 500 victories with seven. That’s just the start of the records set at Daytona by “The King,” who also holds the marks for most points races won (10); most starts (74); top fives (28); top 10s (37) and top 20s (48).

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Tom Jensen

Tom Jensen

Tom is the Curatorial Affairs Manager at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. For more than 25 years, he has been part of the NASCAR media industry.