Graph of the Day for 02-19-2023: Where Daytona 500 Winners Start

The Graph of the Day for 02-19-2023 is actually two graphs comparing how the starting positions of winning drivers have changed over time.

The Graph of the Day for 02-19-2023 shows where Daytona winners started from 1972-2004
The Graph of the Day for 02-19-2023 shows where Daytona winners started from 2005-2022

These graphs show a stark contrast. Everyone’s noted that no one has won from the pole since 2000. But no one has won from second or third place since 2005.

Only 5.6% of recent winners came from the top-four starting positions. In contrast, 75.8% of the winners from 1972-2004 came from the first two rows.

A warning: with the starting positions being so spread out recently, don’t read anything into starting in position nine. That’s a consequence of small numbers, not a signal that there is something magical about starting in P9!

If you’d rather see the data in a bar chart over time, here it is:

A bar chart showing the starting positions of Daytona 500 winners  from 1959-present

The colors are just there to help you quickly distinguish those starting in the front. They’re the same as the colors used on the complementary graph, which shows the final positions of Daytona 500 polesitters.

If you’re interested in why this is happened, take a gander at my latest for NBC Sports, where I explain how the increase in accidents is making the Daytona 500 more of a crap shoot than it used to be.

And that’s the The Graph of the Day for 02-19-2023.

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