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FACT FILE: Qualifying for the Daytona 500/’Duels’

In racing terminology, the term ‘qualifying’ has two meanings. The first is the procedure which determines which cars ‘qualify’ to run in the subsequent race and the second is the procedure (usually the same timed session) which determines the starting order – usually in order from the fastest in front going back in decreasing speed order to the rear.

In the case of the Daytona 500, all the 36 NASCAR Charter entries are guaranteed a start in every championship race, including the Daytona 500. This only leaves four open spots for non-Charter entries in 40-car starting lineup. This year there are 44 cars entered for the Daytona 500 which means that four of these 44 will fail to qualify for a starting position. These four will be identified by the results of the ‘Duels’ on Thursday.

• All the remaining on-track sessions this week through to the Daytona 500 on Sunday (including the ones mentioned here) will be run on the traditional 2.5-mile Daytona oval.

1. ‘Qualifying’ for the Daytona 500
• Wednesday, Feb. 10
• TV: Fox Sports Racing at 7:00P; TSN1 at 7:30P
• Single-car qualifying runs. The quickest two ‘qualifiers’ will be given the two starting spots on the front row for the race. For all of them, the ‘qualifying’ speeds will determine their starting spots in the Duels – odd-numbered qualifiers (1st fastest, 3rd fastest, etc.) will make up the field for the first Duel and even-numbered qualifiers make up the field of the second Duel. While the front-row qualifiers have a starting position at the front of their respective Duel races, they have nothing to gain – but if their car is damaged they can lose their front row starting position for the big 500 on Sunday.

CLICK below for data files:
• entry list
• qualifying speeds

2. Bluegreen Vacations Duels at Daytona
• Thursday, February 11
• TV: TSN4 at 7:00P
• Each of the two races will be 60 laps (150 miles) long. Staring positions as per Wednesday’s qualifying speeds (Duel 1: 1, 3, 5, etc.)
• For the start of the Daytona 500, the finishers from Duel 1 will line up on the inside row in order of their Duel finish. Meanwhile, the finishers from Duel 2 will line up on the outside row in order of their Duel finish.
•  Each of the 36 Charter enties has a guaranteed start in the Daytona 500. The fastest non-Charter team in each duel race will gain entrance into the Daytona 500 field. The two non-Charter teams with the fastest times from single-car qualifying that didn’t qualify through the duels will fill the last two spots in the 40-car field. Hence, all these Duels will have done is to determine which two of the non-Charter teams lines up in 37th and 38th place on the Daytona 500 starting grid – two days of ‘qualifying’ – all for this! Of course, this qualifying procedure at the Daytona 500 is all for show and it is as entrenched as was the traditional ‘Month of May’ two-weekend qualifying procedure for the Indy 500. It’s all about selling tickets (and hotel rooms and restaurant meals)!

CLICK below for data files:
• Starting lineup for Duel #1
• Duel #1 race result
• Starting lineup for Duel #2
Duel #2 race result
• Starting lineup for the Daytona 500 as determined by the two Duel races.

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