2019 has been a notable year for anniversaries in NASCAR.
Among them are the four active Cup Series tracks that are celebrating their 50th anniversary. Those include Talladega Superspeedway, Michigan International Speedway, Sonoma Raceway and the track NASCAR returns to this weekend – Dover International Speedway.
The “Monster Mile” will host its 100th Cup Series event Sunday (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) as the first race in the second round of the playoffs.
The Cup Series first ventured to Dover, Delaware, for a race on July 6, 1969, when the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 was “In The Year 2525” by Zagar & Evans and the film “Easy Rider” was eight days from being released.
On that day, Richard Petty took his No. 43 Ford to victory lane after leading 150 of 300 laps (the first 500-mile/lap race was in 1971). It was his first of seven wins there, including his 199th Cup win in 1984.
Also of note, the inaugural race was held only two days after the July race at Daytona International Speedway, almost 900 miles away.
“So we had to come up all the way up the East Coast, brought the car up here and had never seen the race track,” Petty recalled in 2013. “We were pretty dog tired by the time we drove the (Daytona) race, drove all the way up here and run the race.”
Here’s a look at interesting stats and facts from the track’s first 50 years.
– Dover first opened as a facility used to accommodate both harness racing and motorsports events.
– Sunday’s race will be the 50th held on the oval since the track went from an asphalt to concrete surface in 1995. The track’s surface is the oldest the Cup Series races on.
– The track changed its name from Dover Downs International Speedway to simply Dover International Speedway in 2002.
– The track changed the length of its races from 500 to 400 miles in 1997.
– NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Petty are next on the list with seven wins. Hall of Famer David Pearson holds the top-mark for pole positions with six. Ryan Newman’s four poles leads current drivers, with the most recent in 2007.
– Three times a driver has won three consecutive races – Pearson (1972-73), Rusty Wallace (1993-94) and Jeff Gordon (1995-96). The last time a driver won back-to-back races was Johnson in 2013-14.
– Kyle Petty won his last Cup Series race in 1995 at Dover after starting from 37th, the deepest in the field a Cup winner has started at the track.
– Mark Martin, a four-time race winner, holds the record for most runner-up finishes (eight).
– Ricky Rudd has the most starts at the track with 56. His first came on May 16, 1976 and his final start was on June 4, 2007. In-between, four of his 23 career Cup wins came at Dover.
– Hendrick Motorsports holds the record for most wins (20) for an organization at Dover. Since 2009, the team has not gone more than one season without a Dover win.
– Chevrolet leads all manufacturers with 40 wins in the first 99 races.
– Bad news for any driver hoping to get their first career Cup wins at Dover: It’s only happened twice, with Jody Ridley in May 1981 and Martin Truex Jr. in 2007.