Thursday Night’s Twins Set For Daytona

Now that qualifying is behind us for Sunday’s Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN), the field for Thursday night’s Bluegreen Vacations Duels In Daytona (7 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN) are also set too. See, 35 of the 36 NASCAR Cup Series races have the official starting lineups set by single car qualifying. For the Daytona 500, well this race is different.

Single car qualifying sets the lineups for the Duels on Thursday, not for the ‘500 itself. The only four spots locked in are the front row and two of the seven open cars.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Alex Bowman know that their starting spots are locked in due to their qualifying efforts on Sunday afternoon. Stenhouse Jr., in his new team, earned his third career Busch Pole Award in the NASCAR Cup Series, by circling the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway at a speed of 194.582 mph while Bowman earned his third career front row starting spot with a lap of 194.363 mph.

By virtue of that, they will start from the pole in each of the two 150-mile Twin qualifying races on Thursday night. They were the only ones now that will keep their speed as their official qualifying times for the ‘500.

Two more drivers qualified their ways in via being the quickest two non chartered teams. Justin Haley and Brendan Gaughan know that they will be in next Sunday’s Daytona 500 by virtue of that.

That leaves five drivers going for two spots.

For the first Duel, while bowties share the front row, those are the only two in the top eight of the starting lineup. In fact, there’s only three in the first 7 Rows. I have a feeling the Penske trio of Joey Logano (6th), Brad Keselowski (12th) and Ryan Blaney (14th) hook up early in this one. Aric Almirola (4th) and Clint Bowyer (7th) are teammates and can give each other drafting help too. Look for the Penske’s to lock up with them early.

Then, you’ll have three Toyota’s (Hamlin, Bell and Truex) trying to hold on too.

The second Duel, is completely the opposite. Three of the top four starting spots belong to Hendrick Motorsports. Then, factor in the two JGR cars (Busch and Jones) and you have a hard group to get by. But, two SHR cars (Harvick/Custer), two Ganassi’s (Busch/Larson) and two FRM cars (McDowell/Ragan) will also look to team up as well.

Duel 1 Starting Lineup

Row 1: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chase Elliott

Row 2: Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola

Row 3: Christopher Bell R, Joey Logano

Row 4: Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman

Row 5: Ryan Preece, Chris Buescher

Row 6: Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski

Row 7: John Hunter Nemechek R, Ryan Blaney

Row 8: Austin Dillon, Justin Haley

Row 9: Darrell Wallace Jr., Reed Sorenson (Must Race In)

Row 10: Daniel Suarez (Must Race In), Quin Houff

Row 11: Chad Finchum (Must Race In), Joey Gase

Duel 2 Starting Lineup

Row 1: Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson

Row 2: Kyle Busch, William Byron

Row 3: Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick

Row 4: Cole Custer R, Matt DiBenedetto

Row 5: Tyler Reddick R, Kyle Larson

Row 6: Kurt Busch, Michael McDowell

Row 7: David Ragan, Ross Chastain

Row 8: Ty Dillon, Brendan Gaughan

Row 9: Timmy Hill (Must Race In), Corey LaJoie

Row 10: JJ Yeley (Must Race In), Brennan Poole R

Row 11: BJ McLeod

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