Drivers chasing the entirely fictional ‘All 40 Challenge’
With 36 races in a year and 40 available finishing positions on the track, it’s practically inevitable a driver ends up finishing in every possible place at some point — you win some, you lose some, as they say. Quoth Ricky Bobby, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.”
In fact, just last fall at Talladega, Kyle Busch famously (OK, maybe not famously) finished in 26th position for the first time in his career after 493 starts — completing what we’re now dubbing the “All 40 Challenge” — a driver scoring at least one finish in every position from first to 40th.
As you watch the 2019 season unfold, keep in mind some drivers might be chasing more than a championship trophy — a few are in position to complete the massive 40-row bingo board that is the list of possible finishing positions in NASCAR.
Which drivers have completed the All 40 Challenge?
A total of 11 full-time drivers completed in every position 1-40 at some point in their careers, completing the All 40 Challenge:
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Martin Truex Jr.
One Position Remaining
Just because many veterans can proudly boast of their All 40 Challenge trophy (wait, there’s not a trophy?) doesn’t mean every racer has pulled it off.
Three drivers are one finish away.
Aric Almirola: 2nd
Somehow, despite finishing fifth in the 2018 standings, Aric Almirola has yet to score a second-place finish in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series after 280 career races (and, curiously, the same is true for his 102-race Xfinity Series career). With momentum building at Stewart-Haas Racing, it seems likely Almirola will complete the sweep soon.
Ryan Blaney: 21st
With 126 races under his belt, Ryan Blaney has finished in every position but 21st — coincidentally, his former car number at Wood Brothers Racing, where he scored his first career victory. Notching a P21 in 2019 will complete the All 40 Challenge for YRB.
David Ragan: 9th
David Ragan has driven for plenty of teams in his 12 full-time seasons at NASCAR’s top level, but he’s somehow never finished in 9th place. We’ve noted in the past how underdogs seem to finish in precisely 9th place at Daytona — so, combined with Ragan’s superspeedway prowess, it doesn’t seem unlikely Ragan finishes his sweep sometime soon.
Two Positions Remaining
Austin Dillon: 2nd and 40th
Driver No. 3 has never finished in Position No. 2 in 193 Cup starts. Luckily for Austin Dillon, he’s never finished in last place out in a 40-car field, either.
Brad Keselowski: 28th and 40th
After 341 races, 27 wins, and a championship, perhaps the most astounding statistic of all is that Brad Keselowski can claim he’s never finished in 28th (or 40th).
Kyle Larson: 22nd and 32nd
Kyle Larson can do anything in a race car, they say. That is, except for finish in precisely 22nd or 32nd place — a feat that’s eluded the Californian in his 183-race career.
Four Positions Remaining
Alex Bowman is still chasing his first win — as well as his first 2nd-, 15th-, and 21st-place finishes after 117 starts.
Six Positions Remaining
Chris Buescher (2nd, 3rd, 4th, 7th, 8th, 31st)
Chase Elliott (17th, 25th, 26th, 28th, 35th, 40th)
Seven Positions Remaining
Erik Jones (20th, 23rd, 24th, 28th, 32nd, 34th, 37th)
Michael McDowell (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 8th, 11th)
Nine Positions Remaining
Daniel Suarez: 1st, 5th, 13th, 25th, 27th, 31st, 33rd, 39th, 40th
Bonus Data: Never Last
Since we were already analyzing the data anyway, and because it’s Fantasy Live season, you might want to keep these names in your back pocket: seven full-time drivers have never finished in exactly 40th place (also known as last place in a 40-car field):
*finished worse than 40th before field size rules were changed, but never finished exactly 40th
You’re welcome, fantasy players.
Here’s the complete list of non-rookie full-time drivers and their All 40 Challenge status up until now (the 2019 Daytona 500). If a driver hasn’t finished in a particular position, it’s highlighted in gold. Drivers with grayed-out names have completed the challenge.
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