The Daytona 500 is a 500-mile-long (805 km) Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series motor race held annually at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.The inaugural 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 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 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. The 2006 Daytona 500 attracted the sixth largest average live global TV audience of any sporting event that year with 20 million viewers.
The Can-Am Duel, is a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series preliminary event to the Daytona 500. It consists of two 150-mile (240 km) races, which both serve as a qualifying race for the Daytona 500. The finishing order in the two 150-mile (240 km) races, held on the Thursday before the Daytona 500, determine the starting lineup for the Daytona 500 held on race day.
Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is unique in NASCAR. Only the two front row starters (the pole and “outside pole”) are determined by the standard knockout qualifying system. For all other drivers it only determines their starting position in their duel with odd placed cars being entered into the first duel and even placed cars going in the second. After the Top 2 positions are locked in, the next 30 places of starting grid of the Daytona 500 is set by the finishing order of these two races with the top 15 (excluding pole winner and outside pole) making up the next 15 places on the inside and outside lanes respectively. After the Duels are completed the four fastest non-qualifiers by time and finally the six or seven (if no past champion’s exemption is needed) highest-earning teams in points not in the race yet advance (also set by time), and the starting grid for the Daytona 500 would then be set.