DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — Unfortunately, not many great ones end their Daytona 500 careers in victory lane. We won’t visit grave history but lets just look at recent greats and how their final Daytona 500 starts finished.
Jeff Gordon’s and Tony Stewart’s were both in 2015 as Stewart crashed on Lap 42 and would finish 42nd while Gordon was collected in a crash on Lap 203 and would finish 33rd. Dale Earnhardt Jr’s last Daytona 500 was in 2017 and that too ended in a crash on Lap 106. He’d finish 37th.
This would be Jimmie Johnson’s 19th final Great American Race. While he didn’t rule out a future start, it’s highly unlikely it will happen. Johnson, announced last November that the 2020 season would be his last full time effort. The California native was credited with a 35th place finish as this was his fourth finish of 16th or worse in his last five starts in Daytona.
Johnson, hasn’t won a Daytona 500 since 2013 as it was his second career ‘500 triumph (2006). He likely ends his Daytona 500 career with 19 starts, seven top five finishes and eight top 10’s.
The California native started his Daytona 500 career with four top five finishes in his first five tries but has only three in his last 14th.