Nascar

46 days until the Daytona 500: The number that almost was for Jeff Gordon

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Driver Jeff Gordon making laps at the Daytona 500 race on February 20, 1994 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Dozier Mobley/Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 20: Driver Jeff Gordon making laps at the Daytona 500 race on February 20, 1994 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Dozier Mobley/Getty Images)

This just in: There's only 46 days until the 2017 Daytona 500 on FOX.

This time around, we're going to look at how four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion and FOX NASCAR analyst Jeff Gordon almost drove the No. 46.

Through 805 races, Gordon earned four titles, 93 wins and 81 poles in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, but former crew chief Ray Evernham reminded us all that history was almost made with a different number.

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Really, really rare pic. Yes our # was supposed to be 46. @JeffGordonWeb pretty wild how things happen.

— ray evernham (@RayEvernham) January 6, 2015

pic.twitter.com/a14DdB867S

— ray evernham (@RayEvernham) January 6, 2015

Thanks to a licensing stipulation with the No. 46 car driven by actor Tom Cruise in the iconic NASCAR movie "Days of Thunder," Gordon and team were forced to pick another number, which led to the No. 24.

As a result, the No. 46 has seen mediocre success throughout Cup Series history.

Speedy Thompson was the most successful driver to ever compete in the No. 46, collecting eight wins, 38 top fives and 50 top-10 finishes over the course of 75 races.

Jack Smith (2) and Bob Welborn (1) are the only other two drivers to record wins with the number.

Although Thompson sported the No. 46 for the better part of his career, he never competed with the number in the Daytona 500.

Michael Annett is the latest driver to pilot the No. 46 for HScott Motorsports, but over 69 races in two seasons, he only collected six top-20 finishes and led eight laps. Annett will make the move to full-time XFINITY Series racing for JR Motorsports in 2017.

Check out some other factoids about No. 46 in NASCAR and at Daytona:

· Bill Elliott competed in one race driving the No. 46 Whitney Motorsports Chevrolet at Talladega in April 2011.

· Michael Annett scored the highest Daytona 500 finish in the No. 46, earning a 13th-place result in 2015.

· Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored his first Daytona 500 in the 46th running of the event.