The Super Bowl of stock car racing. The opening event of the NASCAR Winston Cup season. Held in February at Daytona International Speedway.With the increase in NASCAR's popularity in recent years, this has become the single most watched auto race in the USA.
Qualifying for the race is done differently than for other NASCAR events. Time trials are still held as usual, but only pole position and outside pole are determined. The odd and even ranked drivers are then divided for two 125 mile qualifier races. The pole and outside pole drivers do participate in these events, but their results are thrown out. The top 14 drivers from each race are placed in positions 3-30, those from the odd race going into the odd positions (i.e. 3, 5, 7, etc.) and those in the even race going into the even positions (i.e. 4, 6, 8, etc.). Positions 31-36 are then determined by the fastest time trial times of drivers not yet qualified. Positions 37-43 are then provisional, being determined by point standings of the previous season. If the previous year's winner has not been given a position by this point (and they are there to qualify), they are then given position 43. Anyone else who has not qualified, is then sent home.
The racing in the Daytona 500 is always close, as this is a restrictor plate race. The restrictor plates are used both to decrease speeds, and to ensure closer racing throughout the field. As a result, there always tends to be a big wreck, aptly titled the big one.
Dale Earnhardt's name will always be remembered in conjunction with this race, as he lost his life during an accident in the final corner in 2001. He also always had problems in winning this race, winning 7 Winston Cup titles, but not winning the Daytona 500 until 1998.