Get up to speed for NASCAR's Daytona 500. Here's what you need to know

If you like fast cars and furious drivers, NASCAR’s Daytona 500 is the event for you.

The 63rd annual race is this Sunday — and it’s basically the Super Bowl of stock car racing.
Here’s what you need to know to enjoy the big day:

What is the Daytona 500?

    The Daytona 500, also called the “Great American Race,” kicked off in 1959. But it only became NASCAR’s season-opening race in 1982.
    It’s a 200-lap, 500-mile-long race held at the Daytona International Speedway. Forty drivers compete, and the winner takes home a replica of the Harley J. Earl Trophy and about $ 1.5 million.
    The race, held in Daytona Beach, Florida, is particularly famous for its photo finishes and unfortunate wrecks.

    Where can I watch the Daytona 500?

    Catch all the action this Sunday on Fox at 2:30 p.m. ET. It’s been the only place to watch the race for the last 14 years.
    Fans watch the 2019 Daytona 500 at at Texas Motor Speedway. The 2021 race will be broadcast on Fox and other paid streaming services.

    How fast do the cars go?

    Buddy Baker holds the record for the fastest average winning speed at 177.602 mph in 1980. But drivers don’t always have to drive that fast to win.
    In 1960, NASCAR legend Junior Johnson won with the slowest average speed at 124.740 mph.
    Drivers Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 FedEx Toyota, Bubba Wallace, in the No. 23 DoorDash Toyota, and Ryan Blaney in the No. 12 Menards/Blue DEF/PEAK Ford during practice laps 63rd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 10, 2021.

    Denny Hamlin won last year’s race, which had an average speed of 141.11 mph, but was marred by Ryan Newman’s fiery crash in the race’s final lap. Newman was hospitalized for two days with serious injuries from the crash that saw his car spin and go airborne, flipping several times.

    What are some of the most historical moments?

    The first Daytona 500 took place on February 22, 1959. Lee Petty, father of NASCAR legend Richard Petty, beat Johnny Beauchamp in a photo finish.
    Janet Guthrie, who became the first woman to compete in the event in 1977, finished 11th in 1980. Danica Patrick has the highest ever finish for a woman, an 8th-place result in 2013.
    Drive Janet Guthrie  stands in front of her No. 68 Chevrolet Chevelle Laguna before the 1977 Daytona 500. She was the first female driver to compete in the race.

      But one of the saddest days in sports took place at the 43rd Daytona 500 on February 18, 2001, when seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt was killed in a crash during the race’s final lap.
      His son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., won his first Daytona 500 three years later.

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