2001 Winston Cup season begins with Super Bowl
By B. Duane Cross, CNNSI.com
The four words every gearhead has been longing to hear since the conclusion of the NAPA 500 in Atlanta on Nov. 21 is at hand: Gentlemen, start your engines.
The countdown to the Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 has begun. NASCAR Winston Cup haulers are scheduled to arrive Thursday with the series' first practice Friday. Qualifying on Saturday will determine the top two starting positions. The remainder of the 43-car lineup will be determined in the Gatorade Twin 125 qualifying races Thursday, Feb. 15 and through time trial speeds
The first Daytona 500 (1959) was won by Lee Petty -- the only driver to win the 500 from the No. 15 starting position. It was his only victory at the 2 1/2-mile track, but the first of 11 victories at Daytona for Petty Enterprises. The other 10 were by some guy named Richard en route to a series record 200 career wins.
One oddity: Of the 82 races at Daytona, 41 car owners have won the Daytona 500 ... and 41 have won the Pepsi 250/400 (formerly known as the Firecracker). The Wood Brothers have the most career checkers (12, four in the Daytona 500).
Dale Earnhardt has won 12 pole-position starts in the 500 -- more than Cale Yarborough (6) and Darrell Waltrip (5) combined. Still, the Intimidator has only one victory (1998) in "The Great American Race."
As stock-car racing prepares for its Super Bowl to kick off the 2001 season, here are a few Winston Cup numbers to ponder:
10 -- Points differential between 1992 Winston Cup champion Alan Kulwicki (4,078) and runner-up Bill Elliott, the closest in series history.
9 -- Number of drivers who have won consecutive Winston Cup championships:
8 -- Modern-era record number of victories from the pole in one season: Darrell Waltrip (1981).
7 -- Number of brothers who have won at least one Winston Cup race:
6 -- Number of all-time road course victories by Rusty Wallace, Bobby Allison and Jeff Gordon -- the most in Winston Cup history.
5 -- Number of drivers who have swept the season's road course events:
4 -- Record number of consecutive victories by one driver:
3 -- Number of consecutive victories by the Flock brothers in 1952:
2 -- Number of race teams with at least 100 career victories: Petty Enterprises (271) and Junior Johnson (139).
1 -- Number of drivers who have won the Daytona 500 behind the wheel of a Dodge: Richard Petty (1973-74).
0 -- Number of career Winston Cup victories (in 462 starts) for Michael Waltrip. J.D. McDuffie holds the record for most career starts (653) without a victory.