Daytona Pole Day occurs on Sunday (the weekend) before the 200-lap 500-mile race at the Daytona International Speedway (popularly called the Daytona 500), and this year it falls on February 18. To earn the pole position, a driver has to complete the fastest single lap in the final of three rounds in the knockout qualifying session around the 2.5-mile tri-oval superspeedway. More broadly, the first two drivers who complete a lap with the fastest time ultimately become the ones to occupy the first and second starting positions at the big Daytona 500 race.
History of Daytona Pole Day
The Daytona 500 is a 500-mile race at the Daytona International Speedway, located in Daytona Beach, Florida. The superspeedway was opened in 1959, and the maiden edition of the Daytona 500 was held in the same year. The Daytona 500 has also been the season-opening race of the yearly NASCAR Cup Series since 1982 and the final competition of the Daytona Speedweeks racing events. In terms of rating and acclaim, the annual 200-lap race is widely believed to be the most prestigious event, and therefore, the most-watched and highest-prized of the yearly NASCAR Cup Series. This is why the Daytona 500 is also renowned as ‘The Great American Race’ and ‘the Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing.’
The Daytona 500 race is always held mid-to-late February. From 1971 to 2011, and from 2018, it also took place on the Sunday before the third Monday in February. The race has also been held on Valentine’s Day eight times.
The pole qualifying race for the Daytona 500 is usually held one weekend before the race. The driver to complete the fastest single lap in the final of three rounds in the knockout qualifying session around the speedway earns the pole position — the first position across the start line at the Daytona 500. The driver who comes second in the pole qualification race occupies the second position across the start line at the beginning of the race. Other participants in the race are picked by meeting predetermined conditions, such as combining the team’s position in the previous season’s point rankings and the points in the two qualifying races, or by being an earlier NASCAR champion.
Daytona Pole Day timeline
Lee Petty defeats Johnny Beauchamp to win the inaugural Daytona 500 on February 22.
The Daytona 500 is called on lap 133 of 200 due to the rain.
Richard Petty becomes the Daytona 500’s first two-time winner, having previously won in 1964.
Dale Earnhardt dies after sustaining a fatal basilar skull fracture in a crash on the final lap.
Rookie driver Danica Patrick becomes the first woman to win the pole.
Daytona Pole Day FAQs
How often does pole position influence winning the Daytona 500?
Though winning the coveted pole position is believed to largely influence who becomes the ultimate winner of the Daytona 500, statistics beg to differ. A driver in the pole position has only taken the checkered flag for the Daytona 500 just seven times. Two drivers — Cale Yarborough (1968 and 1984) and Bill Elliott (1985 and 1987) — have won it twice from the pole.
Which other drivers have won from the pole?
Cale Yarborough and Bill Elliott are famous for winning from the pole twice each. Other drivers who won from the pole are Fireball Roberts in 1962, Richard Petty in 1966, and Buddy Baker in 1980.
Who has the most pole positions?
Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, and Bill Elliott have won the pole for the Daytona 500 four times each. Yarborough won it in 1968, 1970, 1978, and 1984; Buddy Baker won in 1969, 1973, 1979, and 1980; and Elliott won it in three consecutive years (1985, 1986, and 1987) and again in 2001.
Daytona Pole Day Activities
Buy a ticket
Celebrate and enjoy all the fun and excitement at Daytona Pole Day and the Daytona 500 by booking a ticket or two to catch all the action live. It’s best to buy the tickets early to secure the best deals.
Stream it live
All hope is not lost if you can’t visit Daytona and catch all the iconic experiences at the Daytona 500 and Pole Day in person. You can always stream the prestigious event online and catch all the beautiful, thrilling moments as they happen.
Join on social media
Join the prestigious Daytona 500 race and its preliminary Pole Day events by joining the race’s official social media accounts. There, you get the latest scoop about the race, the preliminary duels, and other side attractions that adorn the race.
5 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT DAYTONA BEACH FLORIDA
A merger of towns and cities
The Daytona Beach area comprises seven cities and towns: Daytona Beach, Daytona Beach Shores, Holly Hill, South Daytona, Ormond Beach, Ponce Inlet, and Port Orange.
Formerly occupied by Timucuan Indians
The present-day Daytona Beach was once inhabited by the now-extinct indigenous Timucuan Indians.
Origin of the name Beach Street
Beach street was named after the Beach family, as it is nowhere close to the beach.
The founding father of Daytona
Matthias Day — known as ‘the founding father of Daytona’ (now called Daytona Beach) — was a wealthy businessman, who developed the area and built its first hotel in 1874.
First stock car race in Daytona
The first stock car race was held on March 8, 1936, on the Daytona Beach Road Course, located in the present-day town of Ponce Inlet.
Why We Love Daytona Pole Day
The thrill of speed and colorful cars
More than just a qualifying round for the Daytona 500, Pole Day allows car racing fans to enjoy the sport in all its glory as each driver attempts to secure the coveted pole position. During this annual event, drivers skillfully maneuver their high-end race cars on the speedway to the cheers of their fans.
The history and beauty
Like the Daytona 500 itself, the preceding Daytona Pole Day is an event that goes back in time. Over the years, it's been an integral part of the big event — which means the Daytona 500 is incomplete without its preliminary Pole Day.
Other than its history, Daytona Pole Day also gets our adrenaline pumping as our favorite car racers and their teams contend to win the pole. A lot can happen before the race finishes as there's often a twist of fate and luck — one of the reasons why Pole Day remains a nail-biting spectacle.
Daytona Pole Day dates