No other sport kicks off its season like NASCAR does.
The “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing” is held annually at the Daytona International Speedway. It is one of four restrictor plate races of the NASCAR season.
What’s unique about the Daytona 500 is that the event is held at the beginning of the stock car season, while most other sports hold their biggest events at the conclusion of their seasons.
The Daytona 500 is a 200-lap, 500-mile NASCAR SPRINT Cup Series race that carries the biggest purse for the winners. As far as the season standings go, the 500 is just another race. But its participants know that the event holds significant importance as far as national exposure.
Since 1995, U.S. television ratings for the Daytona 500 have been the highest for any auto race of the year, good enough to trump the former king of races, the Indy 500.
Qualifying for the race is a unique process in itself, and the qualifying procedure has changed significantly throughout the years. The latest change came in 2005 when NASCAR decided that the top 35 teams from the previous season – in regard to owner points – are guaranteed a spot in the 500 the next season. The first row is decided by a round of time trials, usually held a week before the race.
The winner of the Daytona 500 is presented with the Harley J. Earl Trophy in Victory Lane. The winning car is also displayed in race-winning condition for one year at Daytona USA, a museum and gallery adjacent to Daytona International Speedway.
Kevin Harvick won in 2007, remarkably starting 34 spots back from the pole position. It was the furthest a winning driver has ever started from the pole position. Harvick won with an average speed of 149.333 and he only led four laps out of the 202-lap race.
The 2008 Daytona 500 will take place Sunday, February 17 at 3:20pm ET. It will be the 50th running of the event.
Top Information Websites
Daytona 500 Official Track Website
Track info, event news and much, much more can be found at the Daytona 500’s Official Track Website.
Find everything from driver information, stats and latest news on stock car racing at NASCAR’s official website
This website is more about planning your trip to the Daytona 500 than the actual race, but it is extremely useful for finding tickets and event planning.
2007 Daytona 500 Results
Courtesy of FOX Sports.com, check out the 2007 Daytona 500 results, as well as results from years past.
Relive Past Daytona 500 Races
Ryan Newman Wins 2008 Daytona 500
Ryan Newman snapped an 81-race winless streak Sunday, using a huge push from teammate Kurt Busch to give car owner Roger Penske his first Daytona 500 victory.
Harvick denies Martin first Dayton 500 win
In 2007, Kevin Harvick beat Mark Martin by 0.02 seconds to claim the checked flag in one of the most thrilling Daytona 500 finishes in the history of the event.
Jimmie Johnson wins the 2006 Daytona 500
Jimmie Johnson won the 2006 Daytona 500. Recap his performance and the latest 500 on About.com.
Gordon rallies to win third Daytona 500
Tony Stewart dominated most of the 2005 Daytona 500, but in the end it was Jeff Gordon who claimed his third 500 victory of his career.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Wins The Daytona 500
Three years after his famous father tragically died at the Daytona 500, Dale Earnhardt Jr. captured his first 500 victory in 2004.
News and Commentary
Top 10 Daytona 500 Moments
Relive the 1979 fight, Dale Earnhardt’s tragic crash in 2001 and eight other memorable Daytona 500 moments with Steve McCormick from About.com.
The Infamous Fistfight: Daytona 500, 1979
If you’ve never seen the infamous fistfight from the Daytona 500 in 1979, check out this clip from YouTube.com.
Dale finally conquers Daytona
It took him 20 tries, but Dale Earnhardt finally won his first Daytona 500 in 1998.
Earnhardt dies following Daytona 500 accident
This article is from NASCAR.com about the tragedy from the 2001 Daytona 500 race in which Dale Earnhardt lost his life.