You might have missed the following statistic in the hustle and bustle of Speedweeks, which tends to have so many storylines throughout the week(s) that certain developments feel like ages ago once NASCAR arrives at Atlanta Motor Speedway, even if it’s only been about a week or less.
All three of those drivers share something in common besides the obvious victory at Daytona International Speedway: amid their wins, each of them finished during the same lap as Ross Chastain.
In the weekend-opening Gander Outdoors Truck Series race, Hill paced the field while Chastain, driving Niece Motorsports’ No. 45, finished third, completing all 111 laps.
A day later, when Annett won the Xfinity Series race, Chastain crossed the line 13th in the No. 10 for Kaulig Racing, a somewhat disappointing showing given that he led 23 laps and won stage two. Nonetheless, 120 laps completed, lead-lap finish.
On Sunday, Chastain piloted the No. 15 for Premium Motorsports into the top 10 (his first time finishing there in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career) at the Daytona 500, completing all 207 laps while Hamlin won the race.
That’s 438 laps completed in three days, each race on a 2-and-a-half-mile track. A 1.000 batting average.
To be clear, that’s a feat no one else even attempted to accomplish last week. Chastain was the only driver to attempt all three races, and only a handful — Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, BJ McLeod and Tyler Reddick — ran two, while Joey Gase attempted two but only competed in one after failing to qualify for the Daytona 500.
It is, however, not a new concept. Since the Truck Series began competing at Daytona in 2000, running all three national series races at Daytona in the season-opening weekend has been attempted 20 times, Chastain’s 2019 accomplishment included. Of those, 13 resulted with the driver at least starting each race, with seven failing to qualify for at least one of the events.
Chastain remains in rarefied air, though. Completing each lap has only been accomplished four other times outside of this year, and three of those were by Kyle Busch.
In 2008, Busch was the first driver to complete 100 percent of the laps at Daytona, finishing second, second and fourth along the way. He did so again three years later in 2011, and a final (to date) time another three years later in 2014.
Besides Chastain and Busch, the other to accomplish the feat is Ty Dillon, who was also the last driver to do so before Chastain. He completed every lap in 2015, though his only top 10 of the weekend came in the Xfinity race.
Chastain does, however, have two things over Busch in this scenario, plus another over Dillon.
As of 2019, Chastain has only attempted the three-peat once — and succeeded in his first try. Dillon, to date, is the same. Busch, on the other hand, has finished every lap three times, sure, but he’s also failed to finish every lap an additional three times, in 2009, 2010 and 2013.
Additionally, Chastain actually beats both of them in terms of amount of laps completed, thanks to both the Truck Series and Cup Series races going over their scheduled distances. In all, Chastain completed 438 laps last weekend. Busch’s races ranged anywhere from 420 to 431 total circuits, and Dillon tallied 423.
Here’s a full rundown of every driver to attempt to compete in every lap at Daytona in the points-paying national series races and the percentage of the total laps completed they were able to accomplish:
Ross Chastain, 2019, 100 percent
Kyle Busch, 2011, 100
Ty Dillon, 2015, 100
Kyle Busch, 2014, 100
Kyle Busch, 2008, 100
Kyle Busch, 2010, 96
Carl Edwards, 2007, 96
Brad Keselowski, 2012, 94
Kyle Busch, 2009, 92
Kyle Busch, 2013, 84
Mike Wallace, 2007, 77
Mike Wallace, 2002, 62
Michael Waltrip, 2011, 58
Joe Nemechek, 2014, 53
Todd Bodine, 2011, 50
Mike Wallace, 2005, 37
Justin Marks, 2015, 25
Chad Chaffin, 2006, 0
Derrike Cope, 2010, 0
Some parting notes:
–Mike Wallace was the first driver to attempt the feat, as well as the second and third. He failed to qualify for the Xfinity race in 2002, but he became the maiden racer to at least take the green flag in all three the next year. Despite being second only to Busch in attempts of the three-peat, he’s never completed any more than 77 percent of the laps — though it should be noted that in that year, 2007, he completed every lap in the Xfinity and Cup races. He just happened to crash out of the Truck race on the first lap.
-2007 was the first time more than one driver attempted the three-peat in a single year, when Carl Edwards and Wallace did so. Edwards only attempted three races once, probably in part a byproduct of the closure of Roush Fenway Racing’s Truck Series team a few years later.
-These percentages include instances when the drivers didn’t qualify for the race, marked as zero laps completed. That knocks down the percentage completed for Wallace in 2003 and 2005, Todd Bodine in 2011, Joe Nemechek in 2014 and Justin Marks in 2015.
-Belated condolences to Chad Chaffin and Derrike Cope, who attempted to qualify for all three in 2006 and 2010, respectively, and made exactly zero of them.
-Nemechek withdrew from the Daytona 500 in 2015; otherwise, he would have had a second shot at the three-peat.
-Chastain was the first driver to try to run all three races in four years, following Dillon and Marks in 2019. Limitations on drivers racing in lower series is likely to blame for the lack of attempts in recent years, with drivers needing to pick and choose their competition in series below those for which they’ve declared points rather than being able to run whenever and wherever. That said, don’t be shocked if Busch tries this at least one more time before all is said and done, especially while he still has his own Truck Series team.