It’s hard to imagine the world of sports entertainment without NASCAR. The stock car racing authority just brings in such a wide range of thrilling and exciting viewing experience that always leaves spectators captivated in awe.
Since its establishment in 1948, NASCAR had given motorsports its identity. NASCAR hosted several race events through the course of history, which up to this day, are an ongoing legacy of the sanctioning authority.
Through the years, these race events endured, and some of them, with their contribution to the sport, have earned their respective prestige. NASCAR itself had identified these race events and considered them its ‘Crown Jewels.’ Here are some of NASCAR’s most prestigious events.
1. DAYTONA 500
When first learning about NASCAR, you just can’t miss the name Daytona 500. This race event is undoubtedly the most prestigious one in the NASCAR calendar. A 500-mile-long (805 km) NASCAR auto car race, Daytona 500 rightfully earned its reputation as one of NASCAR’S Crown Jewel, being topmost at that, given the amount of viewership it had brought to NASCAR and to the stock car racing sport in general. Its U.S. television ratings have been the highest for any auto race of the year since 1995, beating the Indy500 in this respect. In 2006, it amassed 20 million global live TV viewers – the sixth largest average for any sporting event that year.
It is also highly acclaimed for the level of competition it displays every NASCAR season on the tracks of Daytona International Speedway. The NASCAR Crown Jewel is one of the four races on the Cup schedule that require restrictor plates – a device intended to regulate speed, especially on huge tracks like that of the Daytona’s to promote safety.
Daytona 500, popularly known as ‘The Great American Race’ (as seen in the logo) and ‘The Super Bowl’ of stock car racing, is held in mid-to-late February, making it a culmination of the Speedweeks — series of races held during January and February at Daytona International Speedway. This year’s defending champion is Michael McDowell, driving his No. 34 Ford Mustang for Front Row Motorsports (FRM).
2. COCA-COLA 600 AT CHARLOTTE
Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race on the NASCAR schedule at 600 miles (970 km). It is held annually at held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend. Originally known as the World 600 from 1960 to 1984, this race event was NASCAR’s attempt to hold a Memorial Day event that would compete with the open-wheel Indy500; but it wasn’t possible until 1974 when the two events both ran on the same day. F1’s Monaco Grand Prix is also held on the same day by tradition – stirring the racing world further with the three-race event giants.
This year’s Coca-Cola 600 was conquered by Brad Keselowski.
3. SOUTHERN 500 AT DARLINGTON
Officially known as the Cook Out Southern 500 due to sponsorship reasons, Southern 500 is a NASCAR Cup Series stock car race of 501 miles (806 km), consisting of 367 laps. This NASCAR Crown Jewel is held during the Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina, U.S.
Southern 500 is also dubbed NASCAR’s “oldest superspeedway race,” existing even before Daytona 500 itself. It has a long-standing reputation of being one of the harder and more challenging races on the NASCAR calendar due to the Darlington track’s uncommon, asymmetrical egg-shape, jagged floor surface, and overall challenging nature. This race event was a curious one as well. Since it’s one of the oldest NASCAR races, that means this event itself is rich in NASCAR history and lore. As a matter of fact, the race weekend features the theme “NASCAR Throwback,” where many cars would field “throwback” paint schemes.
4. BRICKYARD 400 AT INDIANAPOLIS
Brickyard 400 became the first race to be held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway aside from the Indy500 in 1916. The race event is also one of NASCAR Crown Jewels that attracts more viewership than any other event in the NASCAR calendar. Its inaugural running had drawn an estimated crowd of more or less 250,000 viewers, making it the NASCAR’s most-attended event.
The 400 was used to take place on the 2.5-mile oval, for a distance of 400 miles from 1994 until last year. However, beginning this 2021, the race will be held on the combined road course, covering 200-miles or 321.869 km.
5. GEICO 500
The Talladega’s spring Cup Series race is considered either fourth or fifth NASCAR Crown Jewel, interchanging the position with Brickyard 400. This race event occurs annually in Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama, in April or May.
One of this event’s selling points is that it holds the record for the fastest NASCAR race-to-date ever run with an astonishing average speed of 188.354 miles per hour (303.126 km/h).
This event’s defending winner is Ryan Blaney, driving the No. 12 Ford Mustang for Team Penske.