Sports: Daytona 500

First run in 1959, the Daytona 500 is unique in sports because it's NASCAR's most prestigious event, and it comes at the beginning of the racing season, not the end. Uploaded by

It’s the Super Bowl of stock car racing, and it’s run each year just a few weeks following that game, the biggest event in sports. The Daytona 500 isn’t far behind, though. It’s unique because it’s the most prestigious event on the NASCAR schedule, and it comes at the beginning of the racing year, not the end. There’s no question, though, that it gives the racing season a supercharged opening weekend. Compare that to, say, the first NBA game of the year. NBA? What’s that?

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The first Daytona 500 was held in 1959, with Lee Petty (Richard’s pa) taking the checkered flag. We’re used to “500 mile” races now, but Daytona was just the second for stock cars (Southern 500 was first). Probably the most memorable event in race history was its most tragic, when Dale Earnhardt crashed during the 2001 race while protecting his teammates and died. Now, ten years later, the sport still hasn’t recovered from that dark day.

Many of the greatest names in NASCAR history have won this race. Those who have won more than once include:

  • Richard Petty (7x)
  • Cale Yarborough (4x)
  • Bobby Allison (3x)
  • Dale Jarrett (3x)
  • Jeff Gordon (3x)
  • Bill Elliot (2x)
  • Sterling Marlin (2x)
  • Michael Waltrip (2x

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