Qualifying for the NASCAR Daytona 500 is different than qualifying for any other NASCAR race. Here is your guide to what to look for during qualifying and the qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway.
Qualifying for the Daytona 500 consists of two parts. The first resembles what used to be the typical NASCAR qualifying procedure. Single cars go out and try to run one or two of their fastest laps all alone. This is what will happen Sunday. The second part is the qualifying races which will be held Thursday Night.
First and foremost, a driver will not miss the Daytona 500 by running slow during qualifying on Sunday. A driver can win the Coors Light Pole Award or can start next to the driver who wins the pole. These two positions are also the pole position for each of the two qualifying races.
Here is what to look for on Sunday. There are 49 cars entered for 43 spots. There are six cars that do not have enough owners’ points to get into the race on a provisional. They are Cole Whitt (26), Kurt Busch (41), Bobby Labonte (52), Dave Blaney (77), Morgan Shepherd (93) and Michael McDowell (95). There are four spots available for the fastest drivers from qualifying on Sunday who do not race their way into the field on Thursday. These six drivers want to be the fastest so that they can fall back on speed if something should happen during the qualifying race.
This also means that the bottom four cars in owners’ points are also racing those six above for those same positions. They are Landon Cassill (40), Josh Wise (98), Joe Nemechek (87), and Eric McClure (35).
The other story to watch within the story above is that Kurt Busch and Bobby Labonte are actually racing one another for the past champion provisional since there is only one. Kurt Busch is the most recent past champion. Busch would make the race if he doesn’t make it via some other route. Labonte will be a Kurt Busch fan just in case something should happen to himself.
Yes theoretically all ten cars above could race into the race leaving six drivers that we have not talked about missing the race. The other drivers, in reverse order of owners’ points, who will be watching what those 10 are doing, are Brian Scott (33), Terry Labonte (32), Ryan Truex (83) and Reed Sorenson (36).
Watching your NASCAR star drivers run single car laps might not be very exciting but those laps are very important to the 14 drivers noted above. Four of them will need to fall back on their speeds from Sunday. That is what will make it exciting.
Someone like Danica Patrick last year will win the Coors Light Pole Award.
Qualifying for the Daytona 500 will be Sunday February 16th. If you can’t get to Daytona International Speedway it will be broadcast live on Fox at 1 PM ET.