Countdown to Daytona: 36

January 19, 2013, Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service,

There are 36 days left before the Feb. 24, 2013 Daytona 500; hence, today’s number is: 36.

The number of points-paying events on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, a figure that has been status quo since the series expanded from 34 races in 2000 to 36 in 2001. From eight races in its debut year in 1949, NASCAR’s elite series grew to as many as 62 events in 1964. Richard Petty ran 61 of those races en route to the first of his seven championships. Two seasons, 1973 and 1985, featured the smallest number of events (28), before the race track building boom of the 1990s necessitated additional dates.