The Daytona 500
is a 500-mile-long (805 km) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
motor race held annually at the Daytona International Speedway
in Daytona Beach, Florida
. It is one of four restrictor plate
races on the Cup schedule. The first Daytona 500 was held in 1959, coinciding with the opening of the speedway, and since 1982, it has been the season-opening race of the Cup series.
The Daytona 500 is regarded as the most important and prestigious race on the NASCAR calendar, carrying by far the largest purse.
Championship points awarded are equal to that of any other Sprint Cup race. It is also the series' first race of the year; this phenomenon is virtually unique in sports, which tend to have championships or other major events at the end of the season rather than the start.
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