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