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Daytona 500: Too big a deal now to be run on beach sand

Auto racing's Daytona 500 kicks off NASCAR's annual NEXTEL Cup series on Sunday. It's sometimes called the Super Bowl of the stock- car circuit, which is interesting, given that it occurs at the beginning, not the end, of a long season. That's because the Daytona 500 is the progenitor of stock-car racing, which traces its origins to the hard-packed sand of Daytona Beach, Fla. Since 1959, the 500 has been run on the 2.5-mile tri-oval of the Daytona International Speedway, one of America's most sprawling racing venues. The largest NASCAR tracks, with their seating capacities and locations:

Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 250,000
Daytona International Speedway,Daytona Beach, Fla. 168,000
Lowe's Motor Speedway, Charlotte, N.C. 165,000
Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, Tenn. 160,000
Texas Motor Speedway,Fort Worth, Texas 159,585
Talladega Superspeedway,Talladega, Ala. 143,231
Dover International Speedway Dover, Del. 140,000
Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich. 137,243

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– NASCAR