Graph of the Day for 02-18-2023: Daytona 500 Polesitters’ Fates

The Graph of the Day for 02-18-2023 is a colorful bar graph showing the fates of every Daytona 500 polesitter from 1949 to the present.

I ended up with so much more interesting information on the Daytona 500 that I might need to put out a second Graph of the Day today!

But this one is near and dear to me because so many people strive to get the Daytona 500 pole despite the pole giving no advantage in the race itself. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a disadvantage, but putting a lot of energy into anything except winning the race seems a waste to me.

Unless you just really like winning the pole.

Graph of the Day for 02-18-2023: A bar chart showing the finishes for Daytona 500 polesitters from 1959 to the present.

The color key is that

  • Red indicates polesitters who won
  • Yellow indicates polesitters who didn’t win, but placed between second and fifth
  • Green indicates a P6-P10 finish
  • Blue is a P11-P20
  • Grey is anything beyond 21st place

The crosshatched bars represent polesitter DNFs

The obvious feature in this graph is that no polesitter has won the Daytona 500 since 2000. I’ll have my conjectures why in my NBC Sports post Sunday morning. (I’ll link when it’s published.)

But just as interesting:

  • No polesitter has finished within the top 10 since 2015
  • Five of the last eight polesitters finished outside the top 10
  • Three of the last four polesitters didn’t finish the race

This obviously doesn’t bode well for poor Alex Bowman, but Bowman’s primary problem — like every other driver in the field — is finishing the race. He’s been involved in accidents in five of his six Daytona 500s, even though he only has one DNF.

And that’s the Graph of the Day for 02-18-2023


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