Daytona 500

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The Daytona 500 is a 200-lap, 500 mile (805 km) NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race held annually at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. In stock car racing, it is the most important race of the year. Not only is Daytona NASCAR's biggest race, it is also the circuit's first race of the year; this phenomenon is virtually unique in sports. 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 Indy 500. The event is also known as "The Super Bowl of NASCAR" and "The Great American Race."

The race is the direct successor of a race that was held on Daytona Beach itself; however, the Daytona 500 proper has been held at the Daytona International Speedway since its inaugural run.

Lee Petty, founder of a famous racing family whose most renowned member was his son Richard, won the first Daytona 500 on February 22, 1959 defeating Johnny Beauchamp in a highly unusual incident. Petty and Beauchamp were lapping the lapped car of Joe Weatherly at the finish, when officials initially called Beauchamp the winner as the cars crossed the line. After reviewing photographs and video of the finish, on February 25, 1959, after three days of review, the call was reversed, and Petty won the first Daytona 500.

Richard Petty won the race a record seven times.

It holds the record for the most cars crashed at once, 38, on February 13, 1960, on the second lap in a 73-car Sportsman 250-mile race. (An April 2003 race at Talladega Superspeedway had a 27-car crash which, percentagewise, was the most cars crashed at once.)

Qualifying is unique at Daytona for the 500, as teams actually must race their way into the Daytona 500 field, instead of taking qualifying laps.

It was the first 500-mile auto race to be televised in its entirety, when CBS did it in 1979, and continued until 2000. Since 2001, the race has alternated between FOX and NBC under the terms of the current $2.48 billion NASCAR television contract. It is expected that FOX will broadcast the race on it's own starting in 2007.

List of Daytona 500 winners

Year Driver Car # Car Make Start Laps Led Purse Speed (in mph)
1959 Lee Petty 42 Oldsmobile 15th 38 $19,050 135.521
1960 Junior Johnson 27 Chevrolet 9th 67 $19,600 124.740
1961 Marvin Panch 20 Pontiac 4th 13 $21,050 149.601
1962 Fireball Roberts 22 Pontiac 1st 144 $24,190 152.529
1963 Tiny Lund 21 Ford 12th 127 $24,550 151.566
1964 Richard Petty 43 Plymouth 2nd 184 $33,300 154.334
1965 Fred Lorenzen 28 Ford 4th 25 $27,100 141.539*
1966 Richard Petty 43 Plymouth 1st 108 $28,150 160.927*
1967 Mario Andretti 11 Ford 12th 112 $48,900 146.926
1968 Cale Yarborough 21 Mercury 1st 76 $47,250 143.251
1969 LeeRoy Yarbrough 98 Ford 19th 18 $38,950 157.950
1970 Pete Hamilton 40 Plymouth 9th 13 $44,850 149.601
1971 Richard Petty 43 Plymouth 5th 70 $45,450 144.462
1972 A.J. Foyt 21 Mercury 2nd 167 $44,600 161.550
1973 Richard Petty 43 Dodge 7th 17 $36,100 157.205
1974 Richard Petty 43 Dodge 2nd 73 $39,650 140.894*
1975 Benny Parsons 72 Chevrolet 32nd 4 $43,905 153.649
1976 David Pearson 21 Mercury 7th 37 $46,800 152.181
1977 Cale Yarborough 11 Chevrolet 4th 137 $63,700 153.218
1978 Bobby Allison 15 Ford 33rd 28 $56,300 159.730
1979 Richard Petty 43 Oldsmobile 13th 12 $73,900 143.977
1980 Buddy Baker 28 Oldsmobile 1st 143 $102,175 177.602
1981 Richard Petty 43 Buick 8th 26 $90,575 169.651
1982 Bobby Allison 88 Buick 7th 147 $120,360 153.991
1983 Cale Yarborough 28 Pontiac 8th 23 $119,600 155.979
1984 Cale Yarborough 28 Chevrolet 1st 89 $160,300 150.994
1985 Bill Elliott 9 Ford 1st 136 $185,500 172.265
1986 Geoff Bodine 5 Chevrolet 2nd 101 $192,715 148.124
1987 Bill Elliott 9 Ford 1st 104 $204,150 176.263
1988 Bobby Allison 12 Buick 3rd 70 $202,940 137.531
1989 Darrell Waltrip 17 Chevrolet 2nd 25 $184,900 148.466
1990 Derrike Cope 10 Chevrolet 12th 5 $188,150 165.761
1991 Ernie Irvan 4 Chevrolet 2nd 29 $233,000 148.148
1992 Davey Allison 28 Ford 6th 127 $244,050 160.256
1993 Dale Jarrett 18 Chevrolet 2nd 8 $238,200 154.972
1994 Sterling Marlin 4 Chevrolet 4th 30 $258,275 156.931
1995 Sterling Marlin 4 Chevrolet 3rd 105 $300,460 141.710
1996 Dale Jarrett 88 Ford 7th 40 $360,775 154.308
1997 Jeff Gordon 24 Chevrolet 6th 40 $377,410 148.295
1998 Dale Earnhardt 3 Chevrolet 4th 105 $1,059,805 172.712
1999 Jeff Gordon 24 Chevrolet 1st 15 $1,172,246 161.551
2000 Dale Jarrett 88 Ford 1st 87 $1,277,975 155.669
2001 Michael Waltrip 15 Chevrolet 19th 23 $1,331,185 161.783
2002 Ward Burton 22 Dodge 19th 5 $1,409,017 130.810
2003 Michael Waltrip 15 Chevrolet 4th 68 $1,419,406 133.870*
2004 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 8 Chevrolet 3rd 59 $1,495,070 156.341
2005 Jeff Gordon 24 Chevrolet 15th 28 $1,497,150 135.173*

All of the above races were 500 miles long, except those listed below:

  • 1965: 322.5 Miles (129 laps) because of rain
  • 1966: 495 Miles (198 laps) because of rain
  • 1974: 450 Miles (180 laps) because of energy crisis
  • 2003: 272.5 Miles (109 laps) because of rain
  • 2005: 507.5 Miles (203 laps) because of green-white-checker rule change. A July 2004 NASCAR rule change states if at any time during the penultimate lap the race is under caution, the race will end with a two green flag laps or the next caution upon the ensuing restart.

See also

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