With the sun having set on the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, plans and preparation of the drivers and race teams have turned toward next year and the 2012 season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway: the Super Bowl of NASCAR, the Daytona 500.
The past season of stock-car racing in the Cup series, NASCAR's top racing level had plenty of highlights and lowlights, typical of every year, with Tony Stewart winning his second Sprint Cup championship with a dramatic win over Carl Edwards in the final Chase for the Cup race on the final day of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Here are some of the noteworthy numbers that made the 2011 NASCAR season another great one:
5 - First-time Cup winners in 2011, tying the record set in 2001 and 2002. The five drivers who won their first Sprint Cup race this past season are Trevor Bayne (Daytona 500), Regan Smith (Darlington), David Ragan (Daytona, second race), Paul Menard (Indianapolis) and Marcus Ambrose (Watkins Glen).
9.3 - Average finish by Carl Edwards of Roush Fenway Racing, the only driver in the Sprint Cup Series in 2011 to average a top-ten finish.
10 - Times the driver who led the most laps won the race. This only happened four times in the last 17 races. Tony Stewart led the most laps in four races, including three of the last five (but he won only one of the five).
14 - The car number of Tony Stewart's Cup-champion Office Depot Chevrolet Impala.
15 - Weeks during the season just ended that Carl Edwards led the drivers' points, the most of any driver. Only five other drivers led the points standings in 2011: Kyle Busch (seven times), Kevin Harvick (three times), Tony Stewart (three times) and Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson, once each.
24 - Sprint Cup races in 2011 in which the final lead change took place with 19 laps or less to go. This happened in seven of the final 11 Cup races.
26 - Top-ten Sprint Cup finishes by Columbia, Mo.'s, Carl Edwards in 36 races in 2011.
48 - Laps run at Daytona on a single tank of fuel by Trevor Bayne in winning the 500
2,403 - Combined points for Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards. The two drivers tied in points for the championship this season, but Stewart won on a tiebreaker by having the most wins (three to Edwards' one win).
8,486,000 - NASCAR earnings by Carl Edwards in 2011, the most of any driver.
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