In a little over a month, the NASCAR Cup Series will get the points season started off with the biggest race of the season – the Daytona 500. 

When he was racing, Dale Earnhardt Sr would win everything on the track…except the Daytona 500.  It took him 20 tries before he crossed the finish line  in 1998 – after having won all of his seven championships!  He would die on that very same track three years later from a head on collision with the wall protecting his drivers – Michael Waltrip and Dale Jr.

While a major feather in the cap of any racer to have a Daytona 500 win on the resume; the lack of that accolade is not the defining mark of a great driver.

There are a number of drivers who have an impressive racing resume without having won the 500.  Of the 15 drivers never to have won a Daytona 500 race, five of them still have a chance to add a Harley J Earle trophy to their trophy rooms.

“The Ice Man” Terry Labonte came in second three times in his 32 Daytona 500 starts.

Ricky Rudd only came as close as one third place finish in his 29 Daytona 500 starts.
Mark Martin also made 29 Daytona 500 starts and only came as close as third once.

Bobby Labonte came in second just once in his 24 Daytona 500 starts and that was behind Dale Sr in 1998.

In his 23 Daytona 500 starts, Rusty Wallace only came as close as third place once behind Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr in 2001.

Three time Cup Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart made 17 attempts to win the 500 and only came as close as second one time.

In his 15 Daytona 500 starts, Kasey Kahne only came as close as seventh three times.

Gregg Biffle has made 15 Daytona 500 starts and finished as high as third twice.

Mr. Backflip Carl Edwards made 12 starts in the Daytona 500 and finished second once.

Ned Jarrett not only watched but called the race win of his son Dale but in his seven Daytona 500 starts he finished only as high as third place.

In his 18 attempts so far, Martin Truex Jr has come only as close as second once.  When the drivers take to the track for the Daytona 500, Truex will match his Joe Gibbs Racing car number of 19 for race starts.

Two time Cup Series champion Kyle Busch has made all but two of his 17 Daytona 500 starts in the number 18 Joe Gibbs Racing car.  This year he will make his 18th start with a new team and a new car number when he climbs behind the wheel of the number eight Richard Childress Racing car.  His highest finish in the 500 has been one second place…so far.

Brad Keselowski has made 13 Daytona 500 starts and got as high as third once; he is hoping to cross the finish line in first as an owner/driver.

In his nine Daytona 500 starts, Cup Series champion Kyle Larson has yet to add a Daytona 500 win to his list of achievements.

In his young career, Chase Elliott has made seven Daytona 500 starts and came closest to a win in 2021 when he finished in second place behind winner Michael McDowell.

With the popularity of sports betting, the odds makers have gotten into the game and have said that Denny Hamlin has the best chance of winning the 500 this year with 12:1 odds.

But when it comes to the Cup Series championship, the odds makers say that Chase Elliott will win his second championship with 7:1 odds.