Once again, the NASCAR Cup Series kicks off the new season with the sport’s premier crown-jewel event, the 66th running of the Daytona 500. The “Great American Race” qualifying format includes two rounds of single-car qualifying, while the Bluegreen Vacations Duels set the 40-car grid.
What time is Daytona 500 single-car qualifying?
A random draw on Tuesday afternoon determines the order in which the cars will roll off pit road for single-car qualifying. The qualifying session will begin Wednesday, Feb. 14 (8:15 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Each driver will run one timed lap around the 2.5-mile Florida superspeedway. The top 10 fastest drivers in Round 1 will advance to Round 2 to fight for the Busch Light Pole. Then, the two fastest qualifiers will lock themselves on the front row for Sunday’s Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The rest of the lineup for the “Great American Race” will be determined by Thursday night’s Duels.
The last 11 Daytona 500 pole awards belong to Chevrolet drivers. Hendrick Motorsports has claimed the last eight of 11 poles. Alex Bowman is the most recent pole winner.
How do the Duels set the starting lineup for the Daytona 500?
The Bluegreen Vacations Duels consist of two 150-mile qualifying races that set positions third to 40th in the Daytona 500. Each duel will be 60 laps long. Lineups for each duel are set from Tuesday night’s single-car qualifying session, with drivers finishing in an odd-position on the speed chart (first, third, fifth, etc.) lining up for Duel 1, and those from an even-position (second, fourth, sixth, etc) racing in Duel 2.
The format is similar for the Daytona 500 itself. The finishing order from Duel No. 1 will make up the inside rows for the Daytona 500. Then, those participating in Duel No. 2 will complete the outside rows for the “Great American Race.” Remember, the starting front row for the Daytona 500 was previously determined via single-car qualifying.
Bluegreen Vacations Duel No. 1 is set to get underway Thursday, Feb. 15 (7 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Meanwhile, Duel No. 2 is tentatively scheduled for 8:45 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Can non-chartered teams qualify for the Daytona 500?
Yes. There are 36 guaranteed spots in the Daytona 500 for the chartered teams in the 40-car field. This means four non-chartered teams will make the race.
In single-car qualifying, the top two fastest non-chartered teams will lock themselves into the Daytona 500. These teams will not have to worry about racing their way in through the Bluegreen Vacations Duels because they can fall back on speed if needed.
The highest-finishing non-chartered team in each Duel race will secure a spot in the Daytona 500. If the highest-finishing non-chartered team already earned a spot in the field from single-car qualifying, then the next fastest non-chartered team from single-car qualifying can lock into the Daytona 500 on speed.
There are 42 entries for the 66th running of the Daytona 500, which means one non-chartered team will pack it up after Thursday night. Drivers that will have to race their way into the main event are seven-time Cup Series champion and Hall of Famer Jimmie Johnson, Anthony Alfredo, BJ McLeod, Kaz Grala and David Ragan.
Are points awarded in the Duels?
The top-10 finishers in each Bluegreen Vacations Duel will be rewarded points that count toward the regular season. However, no playoff points will be awarded to the winners of each Duel race.
The winning driver of each Duel race will receive 10 points. Second place will earn nine points and so on down to the 10th-place finishers, who will get one point.