55 years ago today, the first Daytona 500 set a high bar for drama. Lee Petty and Johnny Beauchamp battled to the finish line in a race too close to call, although Beauchamp celebrated what he thought was a win. Days later, NASCAR officials discovered — after viewing a still of just-developed news reel footage — that Petty had actually nosed the finish line first and was declared the winner. (AP)
GALLERY: 10 Memorable Daytona 500 Moments

55 years ago today, the first Daytona 500 set a high bar for drama. Lee Petty and Johnny Beauchamp battled to the finish line in a race too close to call, although Beauchamp celebrated what he thought was a win. Days later, NASCAR officials discovered — after viewing a still of just-developed news reel footage — that Petty had actually nosed the finish line first and was declared the winner. (AP)

GALLERY: 10 Memorable Daytona 500 Moments

Bobby Allison (left, in helmet) famously fights with Cale Yarborough (right) as Allison’s brother, Donnie, swings his helmet at Yarborough after the 1979 Daytona 500. Donnie Allison was leading the race on the final lap when Yarborough spun both of them into the infield. They started fighting shortly thereafter, prompting Bobby Allison to pull over and join. The incident drew great publicity for NASCAR, with many considering the 1979 500 the most important race in stock car history. (AP)
GALLERY: Classic Photos From The Daytona 500

Bobby Allison (left, in helmet) famously fights with Cale Yarborough (right) as Allison’s brother, Donnie, swings his helmet at Yarborough after the 1979 Daytona 500. Donnie Allison was leading the race on the final lap when Yarborough spun both of them into the infield. They started fighting shortly thereafter, prompting Bobby Allison to pull over and join. The incident drew great publicity for NASCAR, with many considering the 1979 500 the most important race in stock car history. (AP)

GALLERY: Classic Photos From The Daytona 500

Matt Kenseth drives his No. 17 Best Buy Ford to victory at the Daytona 500 last night. The race, which had been postponed to Monday for the first time in its 54-year history, marked Kenseth’s second victory at Daytona in four years. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
MARTIN: Kenseth holds on to win a wild, unforgettable Daytona 500LONG: Handing out grades from the Daytona 500 | Photos from raceMARTIN: Danica receives crash course in Cup racing

Matt Kenseth drives his No. 17 Best Buy Ford to victory at the Daytona 500 last night. The race, which had been postponed to Monday for the first time in its 54-year history, marked Kenseth’s second victory at Daytona in four years. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

MARTIN: Kenseth holds on to win a wild, unforgettable Daytona 500
LONG: Handing out grades from the Daytona 500 | Photos from race
MARTIN: Danica receives crash course in Cup racing

Bobby Allison (left, in helmet) fights with Cale Yarborough (right) as Allison’s brother, Donnie, swings his helmet at Yarborough after the 1979 Daytona 500. Donnie Allison was leading the race on the final lap when Yarborough spun both of them into the infield. They started fighting shortly thereafter, prompting Bobby Allison to pull over and join. The incident drew great publicity for NASCAR, with many considering the 1979 500 the most important race in stock car history. (AP)
GALLERY: Classic Photos of the Daytona 500MARTIN: Delay of Daytona 500 could pay off for NASCAR ANDERSON: My pick for Daytona 500, plus four to watch

Bobby Allison (left, in helmet) fights with Cale Yarborough (right) as Allison’s brother, Donnie, swings his helmet at Yarborough after the 1979 Daytona 500. Donnie Allison was leading the race on the final lap when Yarborough spun both of them into the infield. They started fighting shortly thereafter, prompting Bobby Allison to pull over and join. The incident drew great publicity for NASCAR, with many considering the 1979 500 the most important race in stock car history. (AP)

GALLERY: Classic Photos of the Daytona 500
MARTIN: Delay of Daytona 500 could pay off for NASCAR 
ANDERSON: My pick for Daytona 500, plus four to watch

Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Best Buy Ford, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Gatorade Duel 2 at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
MARTIN: Danica among losers at Daytona DuelsANDERSON: Junior’s confidence will lead to Daytona 500 victoryMcCARTNEY: After winning Daytona, Bayne still humbleTUTTLE: Daytona win could put Busch back on track

Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Best Buy Ford, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Gatorade Duel 2 at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

MARTIN: Danica among losers at Daytona Duels
ANDERSON: Junior’s confidence will lead to Daytona 500 victory
McCARTNEY: After winning Daytona, Bayne still humble
TUTTLE: Daytona win could put Busch back on track

The Daytona 500 is Sunday and SI’s Lars Anderson is breaking down the five hottest topics entering the 2012 Sprint Cup Season, including how Danica Patrick will fare in her 10 Cup events this season. Read the other burning questions below. (Simon Bruty/SI)
ANDERSON: Burning questions for the 2012 Sprint Cup seasonMARTIN: The Daytona 500 isn’t necessary for a driver’s legacyMcCARTNEY: Rejuvenated Johnson looking for sixth championship

The Daytona 500 is Sunday and SI’s Lars Anderson is breaking down the five hottest topics entering the 2012 Sprint Cup Season, including how Danica Patrick will fare in her 10 Cup events this season. Read the other burning questions below. (Simon Bruty/SI)

ANDERSON: Burning questions for the 2012 Sprint Cup season
MARTIN: The Daytona 500 isn’t necessary for a driver’s legacy
McCARTNEYRejuvenated Johnson looking for sixth championship