Big-Name Drivers Who Didn’t Win Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 10: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Toyota, talk in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series 63rd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 10, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Some are present tense. Some are past tense, yet they are all legends. Regardless, race fans would be stunned to know that several of the best drivers in NASCAR history have never won the Great American Race, which (weather permitting) will run Sunday. Two could actually bust through the NASCAR odds this week.

Here’s a look at some of the big names who never won this race — and also? We’ll tell you how close they came, and also … how many times they won other races at the same venue.

Take a look:

Ranking Them

1. KYLE BUSCH (+1200 odds this weekend)

The Summary: Hey, this guy has 57 NASCAR Cup Series wins, 97 Xfinity Series wins, 59 Truck series wins, and he has countless other exhibition-race wins in the circuit. With Daytona, his resume adds up to eight NASCAR victories in races that aren’t named the Daytona 500 (including this week’s Busch Clash). He’s also had 15 starts in the big race and finished second in 2019. It just feels like it is about time, and his plight should remind fans of how Dale Earnhardt, Sr. could win and win and win at this track, yet he seemed cursed when it came to this particular race. Keep an eye on Busch with NASCAR odds this weekend.

2. TONY STEWART

The Summary: How many times did we see Tony Stewart dominate at Daytona International Speedway? Especially during the 1990s? Yet after 17 starts, the best he ever mustered up was 2nd in 2004. Tony won 49 cup-series races during his time, including four Daytona summer-race honors. But he never got the big trophy in February. He also won seven Xfinity races at the track

3. RUSTY WALLACE

The Summary: Rusty won 55 races at the Cup Series level, and he had 23 starts at the Daytona 500. His best finish was in the sad race ending in 2001 when he took third. He was a consistent threat to win from the mid-1980s until his retirement in 2005, yet he never captured the Daytona 500. 

4. TERRY LABONTE

The Summary: Labonte leads the all-time NASCAR series frustration at not winning in the Daytona 500, at least for the big-time stars of the racing world. He attempted the race 32 times and came in second three times (1986, 1990, and 1997). He also won qualifying races at Daytona and even a Bud Shootout, but never a Daytona 500. 

5. MARK MARTIN

The Summary: Martin came as close to a Daytona 500 win as he did to a NASCAR Cup championship. At Daytona, he could win in IROC, the truck series, you name it. And he was a part of one of the most exciting endings in Daytona 500 history when he took second behind Kevin Harvick at the finish line in 2007. But in 29 starts, he never won this one. He’s one of the most prolific winners in NASCAR history among all series but never captured the big one.

DAYTONA, FL - FEBRUARY 18: Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet, leads Mark Martin, driver of the #01 U.S. ARMY Chevrolet, to the finish line to win the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 18, 2007 in Daytona, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR

The Next Tier

MARTIN TRUEX, JR. (+1800 odds this weekend)

Quick hit: He has 16 starts and two second-place finishes at the Daytona 500. He’s a guy to keep an eye on for NASCAR racing betting odds this weekend. 

RICKY RUDD

Quick hit: Had 29 starts in the Daytona 500, with a top finish of third-place in 1981.

BOBBY LABONTE

Quick hit: Took second in 1998, his top finish in 24 career starts.

NED JARRETT

Quick hit: Two-time NASCAR Cup champion who won 50 career races.

BUCK BAKER

Quick hit: The first back-to-back NASCAR Cup champion back in the 1950s. Won 46 career races.

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Brian McLaughlin is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of BMac and Herd’s FCS Podcast. He has written for The Sporting News, headed up the PARADE Magazine High School All American teams, covered FCS college football for HERO Sports … and five Daytona 500s. Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter. 

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