Joe Gibbs Racing

Kurt Busch's Daytona 500 win is a great start — but can he finish the season No. 1?

Kurt Busch's Daytona 500 win is a great start — but can he finish the season No. 1?

Since the racing heyday of Richard Petty —  in which he won the Daytona 500 and the NASCAR season title in the same year four times (1964, 1971, 1974  and 1979) — just one driver has managed to start the schedule with a 500 victory and finish the nine-month adventure with a season championship.  And Jimmie Johnson did it twice — in 2006 for his first season title and in 2013 for his sixth.

Meanwhile, a defending season champion twice has won the 500 to kick off the subsequent campaign, and that double occurred in consecutive years. Jeff Gordon won the 1998 season title and then the...

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