Daytona 500 is widely regarded as the most important race on the NASCAR calendar and it carries the largest purse, but the championship points are awarded as for any other Cup Series race. Since 1982, Daytona 500 has been the season-opening race of the NASCAR Cup Series, adding to the excitement regarding this particular race.

Since 1995, the United States television ratings for the Daytona 500 have been higher than for any other auto race of the year, including the famous Indianapolis 500.

What is the Daytona 500?

Daytona 500Daytona 500 is an annual 500-mile-long NASCAR Cup Series race held at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Basic facts about the race

The Daytona 500 is a 500 mile race held on a 2.5 mile asphalt racetrack with four turns. The number of laps are 200. (Stages 1/2: 65 laps each. Final stage: 70 laps.)

How old is the Daytona 500?

The very first Daytona 500 took place back in 1959 when the Daytona International Speedway was brand new. Back then, the race was called “The Inaugural 500 Mile International Sweepstakes”. The Daytona 500 name has been in use (with various sponsorship-related additions) since 1961.

The Daytona 500 is not the oldest 500-mile NASCAR race; the Southern 500 in South Carolina predates it.

When is the Daytona 500?

The race doesn´t have a fixed date, but is traditionally held in mid-to-late February. In 1971 to 2011, it was associated with the President´s Day weekend, and this tradition resumed again in 2018. President´s Day (formally named Washington´s Birthday) is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday of February.


Since 1997, the winner is presented with the Harley J. Earl Trophy.

Winning car display

After the Daytona 500, the winning car is displayed in race-winning condition for one year at the Daytona 500 Experience, a museum connected to the Daytona International Speedway.

A few notes from the history of the Daytona 500

  • The 1965 Daytona500 was the first rain-shortened Daytona 500. The race was called on lap 133 of 200.
  • In 1959-2020, only twelve drivers have managed to win the Daytona 500 more than once. The first two-time winner was Richard Petty, who won the race in 1964 and 1966. Throughout his career, he won the Daytona 500 seven times, each time setting a new record for the largest number of wins. He is also the only driver who have won the race in three different decades, as his victories are from 1964, 1966, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979 and 1981.
  • The 1979 Daytona 500 was the first Daytona 500 to be broadcast live on national television. It aired on CBS and was broadcast from flag to flag.
  • Trevor Bayne was only 20 years and one day old when he won the 2011 Daytona 500, making him the youngest winner ever.
  • In 2013, rookie Danica Patrick became the first woman driver to lead laps under green flag conditions in the Daytona 500. She also won the pole, becoming the first woman on pole in the race.
  • When rookie Darrell Wallace Jr. finished runner-up in the 2018 Daytona 500, it was the highest Daytona 500 finish for an African-American driver in the history of the race.
  • President Donald Trump served as Daytona 500 Grand Marshal for the 2020 event and the opening lap was paced by the official Presidential state car.