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Madness and Mayhem: What It’s Like to Race in the Daytona 500

Big packs of cars, big wrecks and big speed. Everything about the Daytona 500 is big. Forty-three of the world’s best drivers on the same racetrack, running a heart-stopping inches apart, three-wide and at 200 miles per hour and you’ve got a recipe for great entertainment. For the fans. Not for the drivers. “Imagine driving in rush hour on the Interstate, with cars all around you and nowhere to go. Then, move the cars closer and add about 120 miles per hour to your speed. Then, add in everyone around you changing lanes with little or no notice. That’s what it’s like (during a restrictor plate race).” That was 2010 Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray explaining restrictor plate racing to me during a media di...

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