DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (April 2, 2002) - A win at Daytona is not just one of the most cherished feats in racing, for many, it's the most elusive. The who's who that have sprayed champagne in Daytona's famous Victory Lane is matched by the elite...
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (April 2, 2002) - A win at Daytona is not just one of the most cherished feats in racing, for many, it's the most elusive. The who's who that have sprayed champagne in Daytona's famous Victory Lane is matched by the elite group of drivers who have yet to make an appearance there.
Two-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion Terry Labonte, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet Monte Carlo, continues to be one of the most glaring omissions to the list of Daytona 500 and Pepsi 400 winners. With 24 starts in the Daytona 500 and 23 starts in the Pepsi 400, Labonte has been a frequent frontrunner and has captured non-points wins in the Gatorade 125-mile qualifier in 1989 and in the Budweiser Shootout in 1985.
Labonte has come close to a Daytona 500 win with second-place finishes in 1986, 1990 and 1997 and a third-place finish in 1994. He recorded back-to-back second-place finishes in the Pepsi 400 in 1996 and 1997.
Ricky Rudd also has a ton of Daytona starts with no victories to show for it. The driver of the No. 28 Havoline Ford for Robert Yates Racing has made 25 starts in the Daytona 500 and 26 in the Pepsi 400, but has failed to notch a win. His lone victory at Daytona has been a Gatorade 125-mile qualifier in 2000.
With more than 50 NASCAR Winston Cup Series victories to his credit and a Winston Cup Series championship under his belt, you would figure Rusty Wallace would've won at Daytona. But Wallace, the driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford, has also been stymied in his attempt to visit Victory Lane at the "World Center of Racing."
In recent years, Wallace has begun to rattle the gates of Victory Lane at Daytona. He finished third in the 2001 Daytona 500 and has not finished worse than 11th in the last five Pepsi 400s. In addition, Wallace won the 1998 Budweiser Shootout.
Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte, Jeremy Mayfield, Bobby Hamilton, Ken Schrader, Kyle Petty and Tony Stewart are among the sports' well-known veterans still gunning for the checkered flag at Daytona in a Winston Cup points event.
One driver who ended his Daytona drought was Ward Burton, who captured February's Daytona 500 in the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge in his eighth start. In the 44th Pepsi 400 on July 6, some other NASCAR headliners will look to do the same thing as Burton and break through Victory Lane at Daytona in a points race.
Maybe this is the year for a Rusty Wallace or a Terry Labonte to win at Daytona. Tickets for the Pepsi 400 are still available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.