The Daytona 500: Is Danica’s pole position a good omen for her?

English: Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patric...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

The big news in the world of sports this past weekend was Danica Patrick winning the pole position for the upcoming Daytona 500. The “Go Daddy” pitch-girl will start from the number one spot in Sunday’s race. She is the first woman to win a pole position in a NASCAR Sprint Cup series race.

Does starting from the pole position in the Daytona 500 translate to a successful race? If past history is any indication, not necessarily.

The last driver to win the Daytona 500 from the pole position was Dale Jarrett in 2000. In the 54-year history of the race, only nine pole sitters have won. Looking at the results of the 12 pole-sitters in the past 12 races (since Jarrett won from the pole in 2000), only three of the 12 finished the race in the Top 10. Eight of the 12 finished the race in the Top 15. The average finish of the 12 pole-sitters since 2001 was 17th.

In 2009, Matt Kenseth won the race from the farthest starting position in the race history. Kenseth qualified 39th, but had to go back to the 43rd position due to changing to a back-up car.

Following are the Daytona 500 winners who won from the pole and those winners who started the furthest back in the pack.

Pole sitter victories

1962: “Fireball” Roberts

1966: Richard Petty

1968: Cale Yarborough

1980: Buddy Baker

1984: Cale Yarborough

1985: Bill Elliott

1987: Bill Elliott

1999: Jeff Gordon

2000: Dale Jarrett

Worst starting position to win Daytona 500

#43: Matt Kenseth, 2009

#34: Kevin Harvick, 2007

#33: Bobby Allison, 1978

#32: Benny Parsons, 1975

#32: Trevor Bayne, 2011

#19: LeeRoy Yarborough, 1969

#19: Michael Waltrip, 2001

#19: Ward Burton, 2002

#15: Lee Petty, 1959

#15: Jeff Gordon, 2005

Here’s a quick look at what pole positions have had the most victories in the Daytona 500. Of the 54 races, 39 (72.2%) of the race winners started in one of the first nine positions.

Pole Position, Daytona 500 wins

#1………. 9 wins

#2………. 7 wins

#3 through #9………. 23 wins (last year’s winner, Matt Kenseth, won the race starting from the fourth position)

#10 through #19………. 10 wins

#20 though #29………. 0 wins

#30 through #39………. 5 wins

#40 or more………. 0 wins

Note: Six of the last seven winners of the Daytona 500 were first-time winners.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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