By the numbers: Daytona International Speedway stats and driver ratings

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NASCAR officials aren’t just motorheads, they’re also number geeks – and I mean that in a good way.

The sanctioning body’s crack statistics crew have once again put out a number of, well, numbers related to Sunday’s Daytona 500 that not only give you a great history of the Great American Race, they also show how the best of the best drivers have fared in recent years at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

Enjoy:

Fast Facts about the Daytona International Speedway (including Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400):

* There have been 133 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at the fabled Daytona International Speedway since the track hosted its first race in 1959: 55 have been 500 miles, 51 were 400 miles and four 250 miles. There were also 23 qualifier races that were point races.

* Fireball Roberts won the inaugural pole at Daytona.

* Bob Welborn won the first race at Daytona, the 100-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500.

* Lee Petty won the inaugural Daytona 500 on Feb. 22, 1959; he led 38 laps and won by 2 feet.

* Fireball Roberts won the first 400-mile race at Daytona, the 1963 Firecracker 400.

* 57 different drivers have posted poles at Daytona.

* Cale Yarborough leads all drivers with 12 poles at Daytona.

* Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin lead all active drivers with three poles at Daytona.

* 56 different drivers have won Cup races at Daytona.

* Richard Petty leads all drivers in victories at Daytona with 10.

* Jeff Gordon has six victories at Daytona, more than any other active driver.

* The Wood Brothers have won 15 races at Daytona, more than any other car owner.

* 17 full-length races at Daytona have been won from the pole; the last to do it was Jimmie Johnson in the 2013 Daytona 500.

* A driver has swept both the Daytona 500 and the July race only five times at Daytona International Speedway: Jimmie Johnson (2013), Bobby Allison (1982), LeeRoy Yarborough (1969), Cale Yarborough (1968) and Fireball Roberts (1962).

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Daytona:

No. 18 – Kyle Busch 96.9

No. 14 – Tony Stewart 93.0

No. 20 – Matt Kenseth 92.6

No. 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. 89.7

No. 41 – Kurt Busch 88.8

No. 48 – Jimmie Johnson 88.4

No. 24 – Jeff Gordon 87.2

No. 15 – Clint Bowyer 86.2

No. 11 – Denny Hamlin 83.7

No. 5   -Kasey Kahne 82.4

* Driver Ratings are compiled from 2005-2013 races (17 total) at Daytona.

** Ratings are compiled by combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.

(Statistics and information courtesy of NASCAR)

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Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.