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. It is widely considered to be NASCAR's most important and prestigious race, and has the largest purse, although it is equivalent to other races on the calendar for championship purposes. It is also the circuit's 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 Indy 500. The event is also known as "The Super Bowl of NASCAR" and "The Great American Race."
Daytona 500 Facts
Most Victories: (7) Richard Petty (1964, 66, 71, 73, 74, 79, 81)
Most Consecutive Victories: (2) Richard Petty (1973-74); Cale Yarborough (1983-84); Sterling Marlin (1994-95)
Most Career Starts: (33) Dave Marcis
Most Consecutive Starts: (32) Dave Marcis (1968-99)
Daytona 500 History
When watching the 46th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 15, 2004, you should expect the unexpected.
Since the first Daytona 500 on Feb. 22, 1959, there have been plenty of unbelievable finishes in the history of the “Great American Race.”
DAYTONA 500 WINNERS
NASCAR: The Rise Of A Racing Empire
In 1947, the sport of stock car racing was becoming extremely popular and beginning to draw large crowds of spectators. More drivers began taking an interest due to the increasing fan popularity. Cohesiveness, however, did not exist as rules differed from one racetrack to the next. Several tracks were built to produce one big show at a county fair, or similar event, in order to capitalize on the crowds of fans that were beginning to form. Other tracks, however, were built more toward handling the cars and not the crowds. Some tracks could accommodate both the fans and the cars, but did little to adhere to the rules governing the neighboring tracks.