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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Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.