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Can ANYONE Win at a Superspeedway?

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What’s Happening?

Superspeedway races are known for being races that any driver can win. It’s an opportunity for drivers who don’t normally win races to win, but, how much do underdogs take advantage? Can anyone truly win at a superspeedway?

  • While superspeedways have a fair share of surprise winners, some drivers have a knack for superspeedway wins. Some of the best drivers in the history of NASCAR have won multiple races on superspeedways.
  • Underdog winners don’t necessarily come out of nowhere either. Some surprise winners show incredible prowess racing on superspeedways.
  • Fans sometimes complain that superspeedway wins are random, but, is it as random as fans may think? We take a look at the stats to see how random these races are.

The Background of “Random” Superspeedway Winners

Looking at some of the surprising winners on superspeedways in recent years, we find that none of these wins were quite as random as fans may think. Sure, these drivers may not have won many races, but, they have a knack, for whatever reason, for racing on superspeedways.

Look at Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s 2023 Daytona 500 win, for example. It was only JTG Daugherty’s 2nd win as a race team, but, it was Stenhouse’s 3rd career win. He won 2 races in 2017, both on superspeedway.

What about Jamie McMurray’s win at Daytona in 2007? First off, that win was in Roush-Fenway Racing equipment, which was truly A-Tier equipment at the time. Second, McMurray went on to win 3 more superspeedway races the rest of his career, so, he obviously knew how to race on superspeedway.

David Regan brought Front Row Motorsports their first victory in 2013 at Talladega. He had a superspeedway win before that, coming in 2011 at Daytona. He also won an Xfinity Series race at Talladega back in 2009.

Michael McDowell has only 1 superspeedway win in his career, and that came thanks to a last-lap crash in the 2021 Daytona 500. Before that win, he had 3 top-5 and 4 top-10 finishes on superspeedways in the previous 13 superspeedway races.

These superspeedway race winners that fans may consider “Surprising” all have a pedigree of being very good on superspeedways. There’s obviously a skillset to winning on superspeedways even if it feels random.

Perhaps the most random of race winners was Justin Haley at Daytona in 2019, but, that wasn’t due to the race itself. It was primarily due to a perfectly timed lightning strike.

However, randomness doesn’t have to come from a surprising race winner. It can come from another source.

How “Random” Are Superspeedways?

Since the Next-Gen car was introduced, we have yet to see a repeat winner at either Daytona or Talladega. All 7 races at both race tracks have seen a different winner, and, according to driveraverages.com, there has only been 1 repeat winner (Ryan Blaney) at those two tracks since 2021.

Atlanta, on the other hand, has seen a repeat winner (William Byron), even if one of those wins was rain-shortened. Chase Elliott has won at both Talladega and Atlanta. However, Atlanta is its’ own beast in some regards since it’s 1.5 miles long and drives completely differently than Daytona and Talladega.

Yes, there is a skill involved with winning superspeedway races, but, the results can feel random at times. The big accidents that drivers get involved in through no fault of their own often make it feel like they have no control over the outcome. In the case of the 2024 Daytona 500, a driver who helped cause the big wreck went on to win the race.

There are also races like the 2022 Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona. A perfectly-timed rain shower caused a massive pileup, and Austin Dillon was the one car to skate through unharmed, going on to win the race. That sure feels pretty random.

This is what makes superspeedway racing feel so random. While, yes, drivers can learn how to race on superspeedways, and some are better than others, the field is incredibly close with the Next-Gen car. The big hurdle for everyone is avoiding the big wreck, and whoever avoids the wreck has a chance to win the race.

Yes, superspeedways can feel very random. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not something drivers can get better at.

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Joshua Lipowski

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