1997 Daytona 500
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|Race 1 of 32 in the 1997 NASCAR Winston Cup Series season|
|Date||February 16, 1997|
|Location||Daytona International Speedway|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
2.5 mi (4.02336 km)
|Distance||200 laps, 500 mi (804.672 km)|
|Average speed||148.295 miles per hour (238.658 km/h)|
|Driver||Mike Skinner||Richard Childress Racing|
|Qualifying race winners|
|Duel 1 Winner||Dale Jarrett||Robert Yates Racing|
|Duel 2 Winner||Dale Earnhardt||Richard Childress Racing|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Mark Martin||Roush Racing|
|Television in the United States|
|Announcers||Ken Squier, Buddy Baker and Ned Jarrett|
(12.8 million viewers)
The 1997 Daytona 500, the 39th running of the event, was run on February 16 at Daytona International Speedway. The winner was Jeff Gordon. The #31 of Mike Skinner won the pole. The race was broadcast on CBS.
- Robert Pressley's car caught air after he spun on Lap 10. The rear of the car lifted so much, the car was temporarily sliding across the track on its nose. The landing was quite hard, so after the crew repaired the car, Then Busch Series compeitor and future 2 time Camping World Truck Series Champion Todd Bodine hopped in to complete more laps.
- Joe Nemechek's car owner Felix Sabates bought the #73 entry of Phil Barkdoll, who had qualified 38th. Both Nemechek and his new sponsor Bellsouth went to the #73 for the 500.
- Remington Arms placed their sponsor logos on the #19 Ford driven by Loy Allen Jr. for Tri-Star Motorsports after Rick Mast failed to qualify the RahMoc car.
- Dale Earnhardt rolled his #3 Goodwrench Chevrolet in a crash with the #28 Texaco-Havoline Ford of Ernie Irvan while in a four-way battle for the lead with 12 laps to go. During the crash, the hood of Irvan's car flew into the backstretch grandstand, injuring some fans. Earnhardt famously noticed that his tires were still on the car after the roll, had his car taken off the hook, and drove it back to pit road. The car was repaired and Earnhardt finished the race, 5 laps down in 31st.
- The race ended under caution after the Big One took place on lap 196, involving 13 cars.
- At age 25, Jeff Gordon became the youngest Daytona 500 winner ever. Richard Petty had previously been the youngest winner in 1964, when he won the 500 at age 26. Gordon's record was surpassed when Trevor Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 at age 20.
- Hendrick Motorsports posted a 1-2-3 finish with Gordon winning the race, Terry Labonte finishing second, and Ricky Craven finishing in third.