NASCAR’s most unique qualifying session is back and ready to thrill fans for their first trip around Daytona International Speedway’s high-banks since last August.
The Daytona duel qualifying races are a pair of short races which finalize which drivers will take part in Sunday’s Daytona 500. For newer fans (and even for some long-time fans) the duels are a complicated race to understand that serves little to no purpose. However, that’s not true. Let’s break down how the Bluegreen Vacation Duels play into the Daytona 500 qualifying process:
- On Wednesday, all entries for the Daytona 500 competed in a traditional single-car qualifying session. The pole winner (Alex Bowman, no. 48) and the outside pole winner (William Byron, no. 24) will start first and second in the Daytona 500, respectively, regardless of how they finish their duel race unless they have to go to a back-up car.
- The remainder of the 36 chartered teams who do not qualify first or second are also locked into the Daytona 500, but their starting spot is not finalized by single-car qualifying
- The two fastest non-chartered entries in single-car qualifying (Ryan Preece, no. 37 and David Ragan, no. 36) are guaranteed a starting position in Sunday’s Daytona 500, but their starting positions are not finalized unless they qualify first or second.
That covers the qualifying process as pertaining to single-car qualifying. Now, let’s throw the duels into the picture:
- Single-car qualifying sets the starting lineup for the two duels. The first chartered team in the qualifying lineup races in duel 1, the second chartered car in the lineup races in duel 2, and each chartered team after that is placed in a duel, alternating back and forth between the first and second race so that each duel has 18 chartered teams each.
- The non-chartered teams are divided the same way as the chartered teams so that there are four open teams in each duel, with one team in each duel knowing they will start the Daytona 500 on their qualifying speed.
- The finishing results of duel one sets the starting lineup for the inside line for Sunday’s Daytona 500. The winner of the duel starts third, the first car behind the polesitter. The second-place finisher of the duel starts in fifth, the second car behind the polesitter, and so on.
- The finishing results of duel two sets the starting lineup for the outside line for Sunday’s Daytona 500. The winner of the duel starts fourth, the first car behind the outside polesitter. The second-place finisher of the duel starts in sixth, the second car behind the outside polesitter, and so on.
- The highest finishing non-chartered driver in each of the two duels who have yet to lock into the Daytona 500 based on single-car qualifying speed earn the final two starting spots in the 40-car field for the Daytona 500. Any non-chartered teams who are unable to earn a spot in their duel race and who don’t lock in based on their single-car qualifying time do not race in the Daytona 500.
It’s a confusing process, but at the end of the two duels, the 40-car field for the 2021 Daytona 500 will be set. It’s also worth noting that no cars race in both duels, each driver is only allowed to start in the duel race which they qualify into based off of Wednesday’s single-car qualifying. Based on all of that information, Here’s who we know is already locked into the Daytona 500 and who still needs to race their way in:
Chartered teams locked into the Daytona 500:
- 23XI Racing no. 23
- Chip Ganassi Racing nos. 1 and 42
- Front Row Motorsports nos. 34 and 38
- Hendrick Motorsports nos. 5, 9, 24 and 48
- Joe Gibbs Racing nos. 11, 18, 19 and 20
- JTG Daugherty Racing no. 47
- Live Fast Motorsports no. 78
- Richard Childress Racing nos. 3 and 8
- Richard Petty Motorsports no. 43
- Rick Ware Racing nos. 15, 51, 52 and 53
- Roush Fenway Racing nos. 6 and 17
- Spire Motorsports nos. 7 and 77
- StarCom Racing no. 00
- Stewart-Haas Racing nos. 4, 10, 14 and 41
- Team Penske nos. 2, 12 and 22
- Trackhouse Racing no. 99
- Wood Brothers Racing no. 21
Non-chartered teams who will start the Daytona 500 based on single-car qualifying:
- Front Row Motorsports no. 36
- JTG Daugherty Racing no. 37
Non-chartered teams attempting to race in the Daytona 500:
- Beard Oil Motorsports no. 62
- Gaunt Brothers Racing no. 96
- Kaulig Racing no. 16
- MBM Motorsports nos. 13 and 66
- Team Penske no. 33
As one final note, it’s also important to know that, despite not being considered championship points races, the Bluegreen Vacations Duels do award some points. Points are awarded in each of the two duels as if they were each a stage, so the first-place finisher is awarded 10 points, the second-place finisher gets 9 points, the third-place finisher gets 8 points, and so on until the tenth place finisher gets 1 point. Drivers who finish outside of the top 10 are not awarded points. No playoff points are awarded.
RACE AND TRACK STATS
Track: Daytona International Speedway
Track Length: 2.5 miles
Race Length: 60 laps/150 miles each
Pit Road Speed Limit: 55 mph
Defending Winners: Joey Logano, William Byron
Package: Superspeedway package
First Race: 1972
First Winner(s): Bobby Isaac, Bobby Allison
Most Event Wins: Dale Earnhardt, 12 wins (1983, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999)
The Bluegreen Vacations Duels will air live on Thursday, February 11 at 7 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1 (FS1) and Motor Racing Network (MRN).