Countdown to Daytona: 26

January 29, 2013, Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service,

There are 26 days left before the Feb. 24, 2013 Daytona 500; hence, today’s number is 26.

26 is the number of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories recorded by Fred Lorenzen, who was a dominant presence in 1960s stock car racing despite running a part-time schedule. The remarkably consistent Elmhurst, Ill., driver claimed 32 poles and 84 top-10 finishes in 158 Cup starts over 12 seasons. Lorenzen won the rain-shortened 1965 Daytona 500 after colliding with Marvin Panch’s Ford just before the skies opened. Lorenzen stayed on the track under the caution and was the only driver on the lead lap (Lap 133) when the race was called. The event also was noteworthy for the absence of Richard Petty, who left NASCAR for a fleeting career in drag racing when the sanctioning body banned Dodge’s hemi engine at the start of the 1965 season.