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The Daytona 500

The Daytona 500

The Daytona 500 is a 500 miles (804.7 km)-long NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race held annually at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is one of four restrictor plate races on the Cup schedule. Matt Kenseth is the defending champion of the race.

The Daytona 500 is regarded by many as the most important and prestigious race on the NASCAR calendar, carrying by far the largest purse.[1] Championship points awarded are equal to that of any other Sprint Cup race. It is also the series first race of the year; this phenomenon is virtually unique in sports, which tend to have championships or other major events at the end of the season rather than the start. Since 1995, U.S. television ratings for the Daytona 500 have been the highest for any auto race of the year, surpassing the traditional leader, the Indianapolis 500 which in turn greatly surpasses the Daytona 500 in in-track attendance and international viewing. The 2006 Daytona 500 attracted the sixth largest average live global TV audience of any sporting event that year with 20 million viewers.[2]

The event serves as the final event of Speedweeks and is sometimes referred to as The Great American Race or the Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing. It is held the second or third Sunday in February, and since 1971, has been loosely associated with Presidents Day weekend.

The winner of the Daytona 500 is presented with the Harley J. Earl Trophy in Victory Lane, and the winning car is displayed, in race-winning condition, for one year at Daytona 500 Experience, a museum and gallery adjacent to Daytona International Speedway.
Origins

The race is the direct successor of shorter races held on Daytona Beach. This long square was partially on the sand and also on the highway near the beach. Earlier events featured 200 mile (320 km) races with stock cars. Eventually, a 500 mile race was held and has been held at Daytona International Speedway since its inaugural run in 1959. By 1961, it began to be referred to by its commonly known moniker, the Daytona 500.

The Southern 500 was the first 500-mile stock car race, but Darlington Raceway is shorter than Daytona International Speedway with less banking and tighter corners. This allowed stock cars (which in 1959, were not far removed from street legal configuration) to travel around Daytona without slowing down for turns.
The Daytona 500 Official Website

Content provided by: Florida Community Blog

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