The Daytona 500 is an iconic NASCAR Cup Series season-opener race.

The race garners significant television viewership and media coverage, making it a great platform for drivers and teams to gain recognition.

If you’re a fan of stock car racing or just want to know what makes the Daytona 500 so special, read on to take a closer look at the big race.


What Is the Daytona 500?

The Daytona 500 – also known as the ‘Great American Race’ - is the biggest and most prestigious race on the NASCAR calendar.

The race has been held every February since 1959 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.

It consists of 200 laps around a 2.5-mile (4 km) tri-oval track.


Daytona 500 Terminology 

Caution Flag

The caution flag – or yellow flag – is waved when there is a hazardous situation on the track.

The pace car will go out, and no overtaking is allowed during this time.

In NASCAR races, the pace car’s speed limit will depend on the track.

It is 70mph for the Daytona International Speedway.


Green Flag

The green flag is waved to indicate the start of the race, the continuation of the race under normal conditions, or the restart of the race following a caution flag.


Green-white-checkered Flag Sequence

If a caution happens during the last two laps of the race, the race will continue under caution conditions with hopes of returning to green flag conditions.

When that happens, NASCAR will conduct a ‘two-lap run to the finish’.

The green flag will mark the restart of the race, followed by the white flag to mark one lap remaining.

The checkered flag then indicates that the race has ended.


Pace Car

The pace car leads the field around the track during caution periods and restarts.


When Is the Daytona 500 in 2024?

This year, the Daytona 500 starts on the 18th of February.


How Much Are Tickets in 2024?

Grandstand tickets to the Daytona 500 are sold out, but you can already sign up for pre-sale access to the 2025 event so that you don’t miss out next time round!


Who Is Performing This Year?

Grammy award winner and Trackhouse Racing co-owner Pitbull will be performing a pre-race show ahead of the 2024 Daytona 500.


How Long Is the Daytona 500?

The Daytona 500 is 200 laps around a 2.5 mile (4 km) oval track for a total distance of 500 miles (805 km).

In the past, some Daytona 500 races have been cut short to up to 100 laps due to rain.

As rain tyres are not used in NASCAR, racing would be difficult and dangerous if the track was wet.

In 1974, the Daytona 500 was cut back to 180 laps (450 miles) due to the oil crisis.

The shortest Daytona 500 race took place in 2003, when the race was shortened to 109 laps due to the rain.

The longest race in terms of length took place in 2020, when the drivers had to drive 209 laps (522 miles) due to green-white-checkered finishes.

In terms of time, the longest race was in 1960.

It took 4 hours to complete due to 32 laps being run under yellow flags and multiple crashes.


How Many Stages Are in the Daytona 500?

There are 3 stages in the Daytona 500 – the first 2 are each 65 laps long, and the last stage is 75 laps long.

At the end of the first 2 stages, points are awarded to the drivers who finish in the top 10.

The winner of stages 1 and 2 gets 11 points (10 plus 1 playoff point).

The second gets 9 points.

The third gets 8 points, and so on.

The final stage winner gets 45 points (40 plus 5 playoff points), the second gets 35 points, the third gets 34 points, all the way down to the person in 35th place (who gets 2 points).

The 36th to 40th drivers who finish get 1 point each.


How Many Cars Are in the Daytona 500?

There are 40 cars in the Daytona 500, with 36 spots being reserved for drivers of teams that own charters – NASCAR's version of a franchise.


How Much Do You Get for Winning?

NASCAR stopped reporting on the winnings for the Daytona 500 after the 2015 season, so it is unknown how much the race winners have made in recent years.

The richest purse up to that point was the 2014 Daytona 500, where winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. took home $1,505.363 at the event.


Who Has the Fastest Time?

Buddy Baker won the 1980 Daytona 500 at an average speed of 177.602 mph – despite there being 5 caution flags for 15 laps.

This was before mandatory stage cautions were introduced in 2017.


Who Is the Greatest Driver in Its History?

Richard Petty holds the record for the most Daytona 500 victories, with 7 wins.

Interestingly, Petty also has the longest time between his first and last wins – with 17 years between the 1964 and 1981 races.


We hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about the Daytona 500.

For more on the high-octane world of car racing, read all about the Le Mans 24 Hours or find a racing driving game to play right here at the BookMyGarage blog.