Debate: What is the best trophy in NASCAR?

Which track has the best trophy in the NASCAR Cup Series?’s Jonathan Merryman and Chase Wilhelm share their takes.

While we wait for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season to resume, we can find comfort in knowing there will be plenty of trophies for drivers to chase once we get back to the race track.

But is there one trophy that stands out above all the rest?’s Jonathan Merryman and Chase Wilhelm debate which piece of hardware awarded to race winners throughout the year might look best in every driver’s trophy case.

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MERRYMAN: The best trophy in NASCAR has got to be the famous Grandfather Clock from Martinsville Speedway. It‘s only fitting NASCAR‘s oldest track, a track that has stood the test of time, awards its winner a classic timepiece.

There is no denying the prestige of winning the Daytona 500, the Southern 500 or the Brickyard 400, but there is something about a trophy that every hour on the hour is a reminder of success at the toughest bullring in the NASCAR Cup Series. The clock was first awarded in 1964 to Fred Lorenzen. Back then, the Ridgeway clocks were built right down the road from the track, further engraining the history of the venue into the hardware the drivers took home.

There are a few added bonuses to the unique trophy as well. First off, it’s useful. Secondly, you can put it just about anywhere in your house and don‘t have to worry about your wife second-guessing its placement.

WILHELM: Of course the Rustburg, Virginia, native is going to rally around the home-state trophy. Yeah, it’s a cool piece of hardware to strap atop your SUV like the Clampetts (shoutout to Clint Bowyer) and take home after a victorious day in Southern Virginia, but I think Harley J. Earl would probably clean your clock if you thought it was better than the one earned in Daytona Beach, Florida, each February.

The renowned Harley J. Earl trophy awarded to the Daytona 500 champion each year is not only arguably the most iconic in motorsports and sleek in design, its namesake is rich in both NASCAR and automobile history.

Earl served as a car designer for General Motors before becoming NASCAR’s second commissioner. NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. named the Daytona 500 trophy after Earl out of respect for his hard work and dedication to stock-car racing and the automotive industry. The car that sits atop the trophy is Earl’s Firebird I concept car design, and the base is shaped like the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

While drivers receive a replica of the Harley J. Earl trophy, the actual trophy stands over 4-feet tall. Each year, a driver gets his or her name etched onto it and can forever be called a Daytona 500 champion. I’d definitely want that trophy the most among those in my display if I wheeled a NASCAR Cup Series car every Sunday.

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