By definition, a number is a mathematical object used to count, label and measure. Through the years, individual numbers have come to carry values significant in ways other than just math.
Take the number seven, for example. Often times referred to as being lucky, the number carries with it a greater value than just being a unit of measurement. In fact, a 13th century Jewish scholar named Nachmanides believed the number seven to be the number of the natural world given that there are seven days in a week, seven notes on a musical scale and seven directions.
Tony Stewart plans to add to the number seven’s significance in the DRIVE4COPD 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
Before attempting to earn his first career Daytona 500 victory on Sunday, Stewart will look to score his seventh win in the annual season opener for the Nationwide Series on Saturday. The victory would place Stewart in a tie with the legendary Dale Earnhardt for the most wins in the Nationwide Series at Daytona. If there is any sort of validity to the notion of lucky numbers or charms, then Stewart may have a lock on scoring that seventh win come Saturday.
Riding shotgun with Stewart will be Nabisco’s Ritz Crackers brand. It marks the second time the buttery-tasting snack has been the primary sponsor for Stewart in the 300-mile race at Daytona, the last time being the 2010 event which Stewart won after starting 32nd. Stewart’s relationship with Nabisco stretches back to 2010 when the company became a partner of Stewart and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team he co-owns with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas – Stewart-Haas Racing. The Oreo Cookie and Ritz Cracker brands are Stewart-Haas Racing’s official cookie and cracker.
What makes this sponsorship ironic for this year’s event is the fact that there are seven holes in a Ritz Cracker. Combining this karmic sponsorship fact along with Stewart’s Nationwide Series record at Daytona may just seal the deal for Stewart to nab that seventh Nationwide Series win at Daytona.
Stewart earned the first of his six Nationwide Series wins at Daytona in 2005, which also happened to be his first career win in the Nationwide Series. He has gone on to score an additional nine victories to bring his career totals in the series to 10 wins, 29 top-five and 40 top-10s in 93 starts. Much of that success has come at Daytona, despite only 13 Nationwide Series starts at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
In those 13 starts, Stewart has led 206 laps while scoring six wins, seven top-five and nine top-10 finishes in addition to earning a lap completion rate of 99.1 percent. He has an average starting position of 15.8 and average finish of 7.9. Stewart’s six wins in 13 starts is good enough for a win rate of 46.2 percent.
The good news doesn’t stop there.
Stewart won four straight DRIVE4COPD 300s between 2008 and 2011 – a feat he accomplished driving for three different car owners, winning with Joe Gibbs in 2008, Rick Hendrick in 2009 and Kevin Harvick in 2010 and 2011. He hopes to add another win with yet another car owner via Richard Childress and the No. 33 Ritz Cracker/Oreo team on Saturday. It will mark just the third time Stewart has driven for Childress, as Stewart drove for the veteran team owner in last year’s DRIVE4COPD 300 where Stewart led 22 laps before finishing seventh, and in the May 2004 Nationwide Series race in Fontana, Calif., where Stewart finished second.
Nachmanides belief that seven is the number of the natural world seems perfectly natural to Stewart, who is intent on earning his seventh Nationwide Series win at Daytona with the ubiquitous seven-holed Ritz Cracker emblazoned on the hood of his No. 33 Chevrolet Camaro.