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CUP: Great American Grid, Positions 35-43

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As part of our coverage of this year’s Daytona Speedweeks, SPEED is compiling a list of the top 43 performers in Daytona 500 history, dating back to the first race in 1959.

The Great American Grid includes all 35 prior Daytona 500 winners as well as eight non-winners who nevertheless assembled impressive records in NASCAR’s biggest race.

These are the drivers who have stood out for a variety of reasons in the Daytona 500, for everything from most victories to sheer longevity.

Here are positions 35-43 for the Great American Grid:

35. JUNIOR JOHNSON — NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Junior Johnson is credited with discovering the draft at the fabled 2.5-mile superspeedway, which he used to great advantage to win the second Daytona 500 in 1960. In seven starts in the Great American race, Johnson had one victory, one top-five and one top-10 finish.

36. NED JARRETT — Gentleman Ned, as Jarrett was known, never won the Daytona 500, but the two-time NASCAR champion had two top-five and six top-10 finishes in seven starts in the race. His finishing average was 9.1, impressive given the era he raced in saw a lot of engine failures.

37. WARD BURTON — In what at the time was something of an upset, Burton won the 2002 Daytona 500 driving a Bill Davis Racing Dodge with Tommy Baldwin as his crew chief. For his career, Burton made 10 Daytona 500 starts, with three top-10 finishes and an average finish of 19.7.

38. JAMIE MCMURRAY — One of the best restrictor-plate racers of his generation, McMurray won the 2010 Daytona 500 in his first race back with Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. It was McMurray’s only top-10 finish in the 500, though he has also won the Coke Zero 400.

39. PETE HAMILTON — The New England driver with the good looks of a Southern California surfer, Hamilton famously won the 1970 Daytona 500 in the winged blue No. 40 Petty Enterprises Plymouth Superbird. He also swept both Talladega races that year.

40. RICKY RUDD — The main claim to fame for Rudd in the Daytona 500 is that his 29 starts in the Great American Race tie him for second all-time with Terry Labonte. Rudd earned four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in the 500, and in 1984 raced in the 500 with his eyes taped open after a horrible crash in the Busch Clash.

41. TREVOR BAYNE — In one of the greatest upsets in sports history, Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 one day after turning 20 and in only his second career NASCAR Sprint Cup start. And his call on the radio — “Are you kidding me?” — was the definitive NASCAR sound bite of the year.

42. DERRIKE COPE— In 14 Daytona 500s, Cope scored just one top-10 finish, but it was a huge one: Cope won the 1990 500 after leader Dale Earnhardt ran over a piece of bellhousing on the last lap and cut his right-rear tire going into Turn 3. Cope, who was second at the time, took the lead when Earnhardt slowed and scored a huge upset victory.

43. DAVE MARCIS — No one made more career starts in the Daytona 500 than the wingtip-wearing Marcis. In 33 starts in the Daytona 500, Marcis scored three top-10 finishes and led six laps.

Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEED.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100.