Nascar

Countdown to Daytona: Junior Johnson has only Daytona 500 win in No. 27

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 14: Eventual winner of the 1960 Daytona 500, Junior Johnson #27 ducks beneath Curtis Turner #26 who finished 7th during the Daytona 500 on February 14, 1960 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. There were so many wrecked and disabled cars following this event that NASCAR canceled the next two scheduled meets for fear of lack of participants. (Photo by ISC Archives via Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 14: Eventual winner of the 1960 Daytona 500, Junior Johnson #27 ducks beneath Curtis Turner #26 who finished 7th during the Daytona 500 on February 14, 1960 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. There were so many wrecked and disabled cars following this event that NASCAR canceled the next two scheduled meets for fear of lack of participants. (Photo by ISC Archives via Getty Images)

Daytona Day is fast approaching -- like a stock car motoring 200 miles per hour down the front stretch at Daytona International Speedway.

In just 27 days, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars will be doing exactly that at DIS in the 2017 Daytona 500 live on FOX, beginning at 2 p.m. ET on Feb. 26.

To commemorate this day, we remember the only Daytona 500 ever won in the No. 27. It happened in 1960 when NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson, in just the second edition of the Great American Race.

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Johnson was a late entry into the race with a 1959 Chevrolet owned by John Mason and sponsored by the Daytona Kennel Club. His hastily-prepared car did not have as powerful an engine in it as the cars that were favored to win -- but Johnson discovered a secret weapon when he realized his car went faster if he could get hooked up in the aerodynamic draft of faster cars running directly in front of him.

Usually, those were the Pontiacs of Lee and Richard Petty, and the Pontiac driven by Bobby Johns that had been carefully prepared by master mechanic Smokey Yunick.

That enabled Johnson, who started ninth in the 68-car field, to stay up front with the other leaders for the majority of the race. And then when the rear window blew out in Johns' car as he was leading with just nine laps to go, causing Johns to spin out off into the infield, Johnson was there to take advantage. He led the rest of the way -- and 67 laps in all on the day -- en route to what would be his only Daytona 500 victory.

It's the only time in history the car number graced Victory Lane in the Daytona 500, and it later would be credited as the day when Johnson became the first driver to grasp the value of "the draft" at Daytona that today is taken for granted.

The No. 27 car number, overall, has been quite successful in NASCAR annals with a total of 52 wins in 1,069 Premier Series starts.

Rusty Wallace, who became more famous driving the No. 2 during his own Hall of Fame career, has the most career victories with 18 and, in fact, won his only Premier Series championship in 1989 while driving the No. 27 Kodiak-sponsored Pontiac for owner Raymond Beadle.

Johnson is next in career wins in the number with 13, followed by Benny Parsons, Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough with five apiece, Tim Richmond and Jimmy Spencer with two each, and Jimmy Florian and current driver Paul Menard with one each.

Paul Menard will attempt to win in the No. 27 in this year's 500 on FOX. Menard, who drives the No. 27 Chevy for Richard Childress Racing, already owns the most all-time starts in the number with 216.