Daytona 500 winners: Records, upsets, memorable races 

Denny Hamlin won the 2020 Daytona 500.
Denny Hamlin won the 2020 Daytona 500.

One week after Super Bowl LV, NASCAR will run the Super Bowl of stock-car racing. The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s crown jewel event and one of the most popular auto races in the world.

The 63rd Great American race will take the green flag Sunday, Feb. 14 at 2:30 p.m. on FOX. The race will feature the stars of the NASCAR Cup Series and kick off the 2021 season.

The race has been won by the biggest names in stock car racing, from 'The King' Richard Petty and 'The Intimidator' Dale Earnhardt to today’s biggest stars. Even IndyCar legends Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt have hoisted the Harley J. Earl Trophy.

Daytona 500 Week: Busch Clash Preview

Here’s a look at the winners of NASCAR’s biggest race:

Who is the defending champion of the Daytona 500?

Denny Hamlin won the Daytona 500 in 2019 and 2020 and can become the first driver ever to win the Daytona 500 three years in a row. Hamlin has won the Daytona 500 in three of the past five seasons. Hamlin is one of only six drivers to win the Daytona 500 three or more times.

Also read: A third straight Daytona 500 win “would be my biggest victory” — Denny Hamlin

How many current drivers have won the Daytona 500?

Only six active drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series have won the Daytona 500. Kevin Harvick (2007), Ryan Newman (2008), Kurt Busch (2017), Joey Logano (2015), Austin Dillon (2018) and Denny Hamlin (2016, 2019, 2020) have each won the Daytona 500. Former winners Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth both retired after last season. Former winners Derrike Cope (1990) and Jamie McMurray (2010) are also coming coming out of retirement to attempt to run this year’s race.

Who has won the Daytona 500 the most times?

Richard Petty at Daytona International Speedway/Getty Images Archives
Richard Petty at Daytona International Speedway/Getty Images Archives

Richard Petty, the King of stock-car racing, has the distinction of winning the Daytona 500 a record seven times (1964, ’65, ’71, ’73, ’74, ’79, ’81). Petty's rival Cale Yarborough is second with four Daytona 500 wins. Petty is one of only four drivers to win the Daytona 500 in back-to-back years along with Yarborough. Sterling Marlin and Denny Hamlin have also won it in consecutive years.

Also Read: Daytona 500 Hendrick Motorsports Team Preview

What is the most memorable Daytona 500?

There have been many thrilling finishes in the Daytona 500, but it’s most disappointing one that fans will never forget. Michael Waltrip’s 2001 victory was overshadowed by the death of his friend and car owner Dale Earnhardt in a crash on the final lap.

Daytona 500: Remembering Dale Earnhardt's death

Earnhardt, a seven-time champion and NASCARs biggest star, was involved in a multi-car crash just as Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr. crossed the finish line to finish 1-2 for Dale Earnhardt Inc. The 63rd Daytona 500 Feb. 14 will mark the 20th anniversary of Earnhardt’s death.

Which Daytona 500 was the most exciting?

The two most famous Daytona 500 races were both in the 1970s. In 1976, Petty and Pearson wrecked while battling for the lead on the final lap. While Petty’s car stalled, Pearson creeped across the finish line to take the checkered flag.

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Petty got it back in 1979 as he took the lead and the checkered flag when Yarborough and Donnie Allison wrecked on the final lap. Petty held off Darrell Waltrip and A.J. Foyt for the win while Yarborough got into a fight in the turn 4 grass with the Allison brothers.

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Who are the oldest and youngest winners of the Daytona 500?

Bobby Allison is the oldest winner of the Daytona 500, scoring a dramatic victory at age 50 when he held off his son Davey to win the 1988 Daytona 500. Davey won the race four years later, a year before his death in a helicopter crash.

Trevor Bayne is the youngest Daytona 500 winner, winning the 2011 race for Wood Brothers Racing the day before his 21st birthday.

Also Read: Daytona 500 Stewart-Haas Racing Team Preview

What is the biggest upset in the Daytona 500?

Daytona 500
Daytona 500

Bayne’s 2011 win with the Wood Brothers has to be the biggest upset in Daytona 500 history. Bayne, 20, won the race in just his second career start for a team that had not won a race in 10 years.

One of the most amazing NASCAR stories involves the Wood Brothers victory in 1963. Marvin Panch, the regular driver for Wood Brothers Racing, was involved in a fiery crash during a preseason test at Daytona. Tiny Lund, a journeyman driver at the test session, pulled Panch from his flaming car, saving his life.

From his hospital bed, Panch asked Lund to drive his car in the Daytona 500. Lund wound up winning the race for the Wood Brothers, coasting across the finish line on fumes as other cars ran out of gas.

Other upsets include Cope’s win in the 1990 Daytona 500. He took the checkered flag when Dale Earnhardt cut a tire on the final lap, scoring his first Cup victory. Veteran drivers Sterling Marlin and Michael Waltrip also scored their first career wins in the Daytona 500.

Also Read: Derrike Cope returns to Daytona 500

How many fathers and sons have both won the Daytona 500?

Bobby and Davey Allison at the 1988 Daytona 500.
Bobby and Davey Allison at the 1988 Daytona 500.

Three father-son families have won the Daytona 500. Petty’s seven wins followed his father Lee’s victory in the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959. After Bobby and Davey Allison finished 1-2 in the 1988 Daytona 500, Davey celebrated in victory lane with his father after winning it in 1992. Dale Earnhardt won the 1998 Daytona 500 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. won it in 2004, three years after his father’s death in the 2001 Daytona 500.

In another interesting father-son Daytona 500 moment, Dale Jarrett won the 1993 Daytona 500 with his father Ned, a two-time NASCAR champion, calling the race in the CBS television booth. Ned Jarrett won 50 NASCAR races, but never won the Daytona 500. Jarrett won it twice.

Daytona 500 Winners

1959 — Lee Petty

1960 — Junior Johnson

1961 — Marvin Panch

1962 — Fireball Roberts

1963 — Tiny Lund

1964 — Richard Petty

1965 — Fred Lorenzen

1966 — Richard Petty

1967 — Mario Andretti

1968 — Cale Yarborough

1969 — LeeRoy Yarborough

1970 — Pete Hamilton

1971 — Richard Petty

1972 — A.J. Foyt

1973 — Richard Petty

1974 — Richard Petty

1975 — Benny Parsons

1976 — David Pearson

1977 — Cale Yarborough

1978 — Bobby Allison

1979 — Richard Petty

1980 — Buddy Baker

1981 — Richard Petty

1982 — Bobby Allison

1983 — Cale Yarborough

1984 — Cale Yarborough

1985 — Bill Elliott

1986 — Geoffrey Bodine

1987 — Bill Elliott

1988 — Bobby Allison

1989 — Darrel Waltrip

1990 — Derrick Cope

1991 — Ernie Irvan

1992 — Davey Allison

1993 — Dale Jarrett

1994 — Sterling Marlin

1995 — Sterling Marlin

1996 — Dale Jarrett

1997 — Jeff Gordon

1998 — Dale Earnhardt

1999 — Jeff Gordon

2000 — Dale Jarrett

2001 — Michael Waltrip

2002 — Ward Burton

2003 — Michael Waltrip

2004 — Dale Earnhardt Jr.

2005 — Jeff Gordon

2006 — Jimmie Johnson

2007 — Kevin Harvick

2008 — Ryan Newman

2009 — Matt Kenseth

2010 — Jamie McMurray

2011 — Trevor Bayne

2012 — Matt Kenseth

2013 — Jimmie Johnson

2014 — Dale Earnhardt Jr.

2015 — Joey Logano

2016 — Denny Hamlin

2017 — Kurt Busch

2018 — Austin Dillon

2019 — Denny Hamlin

2020 — Denny Hamlin

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Edited by Sandeep Banerjee