The Daytona 500 is a 500 miles (804.7 km)-long NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 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 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. Since 1995, U.S. television ratings for the Daytona 500 have been the highest for any auto race of the year, surpassing the traditional leader, the Indianapolis 500 which in turn greatly surpasses the Daytona 500 in in-track attendance and international viewing. The 2006 Daytona 500 attracted the sixth largest average live global TV audience of any sporting event that year with 20 million viewers.The event serves as the final event of Speedweeks and is sometimes referred to as "The Great American Race" or the "Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing." It is held the last Sunday in February. From 1971-2011, it was associated with Presidents Day weekend. Because of inclement weather conditions during the scheduled 2012 race, the Daytona 500 was rescheduled to Monday night, February 27, 2012. However, due to the race starting at 7pm EST on Monday and a two hour red flag period, the race ended Tuesday, February 28 at 1am EST. The winner of the Daytona 500 is presented with the Harley J. Earl Trophy in Victory Lane, and the winning car is displayed, in race-winning condition, for one year at Daytona 500 Experience, a museum and gallery adjacent to Daytona International Speedway.
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