The 2012 Daytona 500 is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 26 (1 p.m. ET; FOX-TV). It's the most prestigious race in stock car racing and the first race of each NASCAR season. For those of you wanting to impress all your friends with your knowledge of the race, here are 10 facts you may not have already known.

  • 10

    Start Your Engines

    Author James A. Michener served as the honorary starter of the 1978 Daytona 500. WWE wrestler John Cena will be the honorary starter of the 2012 race.

    J. Meric, Getty Images
  • 9

    Use Caution

    The Daytona 500 was completed without a single caution three times (1959, 1961 and 1962), but every race since 1962 has had at least one caution.

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  • 8

    Great Mileage

    Driver Tiny Lund won the 1963 Daytona 500 using just one set of tires.
  • 7

    Boat Races?

    Powerboats race on Lake Lloyd, which is located in the infield of Daytona International Speedway’s 2.5-mile track.

  • 6

    Cut Short

    In 1974, NASCAR shortened its races by 10 percent in response to the energy crisis taking place in the US, so racers only completed 450 miles during that year’s Daytona 500.

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  • 5

    It Pays to Win

    The Daytona 500 rewards the largest total purse of any NASCAR race. The winner of the 2012 Daytona 500 will receive $1,431,325 with second place paying out $1,050,075.

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  • 4

    Age Is Just a Number

    The youngest Daytona 500 winner was Trevor Bayne in 2011 at 20 years, 0 months and 1 day. The oldest Daytona 500 winner was Bobby Allison in 1988 at 50 years, 2 months and 11 days.

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  • 3

    Chevy Rocks

    Twenty Daytona 500 winners have driven a Chevrolet, which makes it the most successful auto manufacturer in the history of the race.

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  • 2

    Checkered Past

    The car that wins the Daytona 500 is displayed in the exact condition that it won the race in for one year at the Daytona 500 Experience, a museum and gallery near the Daytona International Speedway.

    Todd Warshaw, Getty Images
  • 1

    Always Remembered

    Thirty-four people have died as a result of injuries sustained during various auto, motorcycle and powerboat activities at the speedway. The most well-known fatality occurred on the last lap of the 2001 race when legendary driver Dale Earnhardt died after he crashed into the track wall in Turn 3.

    Jonathan Ferrey, Getty Images