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Name: Daytona 500
Headquarters: Florida, Daytona Beach
Track: Daytona International Speedway
The Daytona 500 is a NASCAR sprint race that takes place annually around the mid or end of February on a Sunday at the Daytona Speedway which is located in Florida. This restrictor place race features 200 laps that amount to around 500 miles. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2008.
Commonly known as "The Great American Race" and the "Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing", it is considered by several to be the most illustrious and distinguished event on the NASCAR calendar. The scoring is similar to that of the average Sprint Cup races. Its importance can be judged from the fact that it is the annual opener of NASCAR events, instead of being held at the end of the year like the other preeminent events. Since 1995 it has been posting the highest ratings for auto races of all kinds on US television, surpassing the ratings of Indianapolis 500 that enjoys a higher track attendance. In 2006 Daytona 500 successfully managed to attract an audience of over 20 million which was the sixth highest average of a television telecast that year.
The winner bags the Harley J. Earl Trophy in Victory Lane and the winning car is put on display for a whole year at the Daytona 500 Experience; which is a museum right next to the Daytona track.
Earlier this race was held on the sand and the highway that is adjacent to the beach. Instead of 500 miles it originally covered 200 miles that were raced in stock cars that were accoutered with wipers and radiators to resist the sands. But since 1959 it has been replaced by 500 miles. Hence the name “Daytona 500” that it took on since 1961.
The Daytona 500 race that was held in 2000 had upsetting results. Johnny Benson was leading until he was overtaken by Dale Jarrett owing to a restart just four laps left. It resulted in a lead for Jarrett that he maintained for the rest of the laps and successfully grabbed his third Daytona 500 title.
The 2007 Daytona 500 race for the first time featured a new foreign addition in the form of Toyota. This race was held six years after the demise of Dale Earnhardt. The race was finished by two of the total Toyotas that were contesting in the race. The 2005 winner Dale Jarrett finished 23rd with Waltrip finishing at 30th. Tony Stewart who was initially leading the race fell out owing to a crash with Kurt Busch. The crash is said to be similar to the crash that led to the sad demise of Dale Earnhardt. But both the contestants luckily managed to escape unscathed.
The 2008 Daytona 500 race celebrated the 50th anniversary of this race which was first held in 1959. This golden jubilee saw the inclusion of NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow for the very first time in the running, after its introduction in 2007. It was also the first race that was being held under the banner of the "Sprint Cup”, after the merger of Sprint and NEXTEL that took place in 2005.
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