The 52nd annual Daytona 500 will start at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 14.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The race fans have asked and Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR and FOX Sports have listened. The scheduled start time for the 52nd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 14, the prestigious season opener to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, will be at 1 p.m. ET.

The starting time for the 2010 Daytona 500 is the earliest since the 2003 Daytona 500 and it’s 2 ½ hours earlier than the 2009 Daytona 500.

"An earlier starting time for the Daytona 500 is great news for our race fans,” Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig said. “In recent years, race fans made their desire very clear for an earlier starting time and with the help of our partners in the sport at NASCAR and FOX Sports, we’re proud to deliver an earlier starting time for the 2010 Daytona 500.”

"Earlier and more consistent start times is another important issue to the core NASCAR fans and we were determined to make the change this year beginning with the Daytona 500," said NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France.  "I appreciate the input and cooperation on behalf of Daytona International Speedway and FOX Sports to make this happen."

“The Daytona 500 is the premier event in all of auto racing and after listening to the NASCAR fans, we are excited about the new earlier start time,” said FOX Sports Chairman David Hill.  “There is nothing like the energy and excitement of starting the season with the best drivers in the world competing on this extraordinary and historic track. We are counting down the days until February 14.”

The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s signature event and is the biggest, richest and most prestigious stock car race in the world.

Since the inaugural Daytona 500 back in 1959 when it took 61 hours to determine Lee Petty won by two feet, “The Great American Race” is steep in history with a list of legendary winners that includes seven-time champion Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Allison, David Pearson, A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti and the late Dale Earnhardt.

“The Great American Race” has experienced its share of great finishes such as the iconic finish of the 1976 Daytona 500 when Petty and Pearson crashed coming out of Turn 4, the famous fight between the Allisons and Yarborough and Dale Earnhardt’s emotional victory in 1998 Daytona 500 on his 20th attempt.

Tickets for the 52nd annual Daytona 500, which start at $55, as well as other Speedweeks 2010 events are available at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.

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