Why the Harley J. Earl Trophy to Daytona 500 Winner

By Tim Packman

DAYTONA BEACH, — Super Bowl champions hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy, a name synonymous with NFL greatness. Hockey has Sir Lord Stanley’s Cup for its champions.

Even though the Daytona 500 is not a season-ending championship event, it kicks off the NASCAR season with the most prestigious race. Win the Great American Race, and your name is etched in the history books forever.

Big money, a nice ring and you hoist the Harley J. Earl Trophy for the world to see signaling your achievement.

The who trophy?

With so many new fans to the sport, the above question often gets asked.

Earl was very influential in the creation of the American classic Chevrolet Corvette. He was also a former commissioner of NASCAR.

Sitting atop the coveted hardware is a prototype car. Named the Firebird I concept car, it is often confused with the “Blue Bird” land speed record holder piloted by Sir Malcolm Campbell.

Prior to 1998, Daytona 500 winners had their name added to the trophy engraved on a silver plaque. It was decided a smaller version of the Harley J. would be created so the team and driver could take a replica home.

Dale Earnhardt was the first to pick it up over his head when he won the Daytona 500 for the first, and only, time in his career.

Two other trophies are awarded for the victory. The winning crew chief takes home the Cannonball Baker Trophy the team owner gets the Governor’s Cup.

Who has the most

“The King” Richard Petty gets to dust off seven of them and Cale Yarborough has four. Three Daytona 500 trophies belong to Bobby Allison, Dale Jarrett, Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin.

Give drives Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Bill Elliott, Sterling Marlin, Michael Waltrip, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth credit for winning twice. There are 27 other drivers who have won the 500 one time.

Allison was the oldest doing so at age 50, and Trevor Bayne the youngest at 20-years old…by a day.

After 200 laps and 500 miles on the high banks of Daytona on Sunday, Harley J. Earl will make his annual appearance. Who holds the trophy high in the air, is the unanswered question right now.

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