Quick Facts About The Great American Race
It's that time of year again! The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season officially begins on Sunday, February 23 with the historic Daytona 500. Known as The Great American Race, this is the event that racing fanatics anticipate all year. We wanted to share a few quick facts about the Daytona 500 in honor of the upcoming race and to celebrate the beginning of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
- The first Daytona 500 race was held in 1959 and was won by Lee Petty, who defeated Johnny Beauchamp.
- The first two Daytona 500 races were not 500 miles. The Daytona 500 didn't become the full 500 miles until 1961.
- The Daytona 500 is the most prestigious race, but it didn’t become NASCAR’s season opening race until 1982.
- Richard Petty holds the record for the most Daytona 500 victories, bringing home the checkered flag seven times: 1964, 66, 71, 73, 74, 79 & 81.
- 1974's Daytona 500 was shortened 10 percent to 180 laps, or 450 miles, as a result of the 1973 oil crisis.
- Dale Earnhardt completed all of Daytona's 500 miles a record-breaking 14 times.
- The Harley J. Earl Trophy is presented to the winner of the Daytona 500 and is named after General Motors car designer and NASCAR's second commissioner, Harley Earl.
- Buddy Baker holds the record for the fastest winning speed of 177.602 miles per hour (1980). On the flip side, Junior Johnson holds the record for the slowest winning speed of 124.740 (1960).
- 68 cars raced in the 1960 Daytona 500, the largest in the race’s history.
- 2008 marked the 50th running of the Daytona 500 as well as the first race that used NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow.
- During 2010's Daytona 500, a large and dangerous pothole developed in turn 2 of Daytona International Speedway. The pothole resulted in two red flag periods totaling two and a half hours of repair efforts.
- Trevor Bayne was the youngest Daytona 500 winner at 20 years and 1 day old when he won in 2011, and Bobby Allison was the oldest winner at 50 years, 2 months and 11 days old when he won the Daytona 500 in 1988.
- 2013's race was the most viewed and highest rated Daytona 500 since 2008.
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