Budweiser Duel: Determining the Daytona 500 starting lineup

Daytona Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) – The Budweiser Duel at Daytona
International Speedway — the twin 150-mile qualifying races — will determine
the starting lineup beyond the front row for Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Thursday’s twin-qualifiers will be held at nighttime for the second year in a

In last Sunday’s time trials for the Daytona 500, in which NASCAR used its
group qualifying format, Jeff Gordon won the pole position with a lap at
201.293 mph. This will be Gordon’s 23rd and final Daytona 500. He is a three-
time winner of that race. Jimmie Johnson will share the front row with his
Hendrick Motorsports teammate after finishing second in time trials (201.135

The starting spots for each of the two qualifying races was determined in time
trials. Drivers who finished in the odd-numbered positions were assigned to
the first race, while drivers who finished in the even-numbered positions were
placed in the final event. Gordon will start up front in the 25-car field for
the first Duel, while Johnson will lead a field of 24 cars to the green flag
for the second Duel.

The top-15 finishers in each Duel race — not including Gordon or Johnson —
will fill positions 3-32 in the starting lineup for the Daytona 500. The
top-15 finishers in the first Duel will make up the inside row (odd-number
starting positions), while those who finish 1-15 in the second Duel will line
up on the second row (even-number starting spots).

Starting positions 33-36 will go to those drivers who did not finish in the
top-15 in their respective qualifying races but were among the top speeds
during time trials. Spots 37-42 will go to the top-six cars in the 2014 Sprint
Cup Series owner point standings that are not already locked in. The 43rd and
final position is reserved for the most recent past series champion. If there
is no eligible past champion, that spot will revert back to last year’s owner

In addition to Gordon and Johnson, 11 other drivers are guaranteed a starting
spot in the Daytona 500, no matter where they finish in the Duel.

Aric Almirola, Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are locked
in based on their speeds in time trials.

Kevin Harvick, the reigning Sprint Cup champion, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth,
Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman have a spot reserved in Sunday’s
race by virtue of last year’s owner points.

Tony Stewart is locked in since he is the most recent past champion (2011).

Michael Annett, Ryan Blaney, Ron Hornaday Jr., Justin Marks, David Ragan and
Reed Sorenson need to race their way in during the Duel (finish among the
top-15 in their respective races) in order to make the Daytona 500.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., the defending winner of the Daytona 500, and Hamlin will
have to start from the rear of the field in the Duel after their cars failed
post-qualifying inspection this past Sunday. Earnhardt’s No. 88 Chevrolet did
not meet the minimum height requirement, as it was found to be too low in the
left front. The split on the track bar of Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota was too wide,
3.75 inches. The maximum split allowed is 3 inches. Both drivers had their
times/speeds disallowed.

Danica Patrick, Jeb Burton and Annett will also have to start from the back of
the field in the Duel after all three drivers crashed in Wednesday’s first
practice session and were forced to go to their backup cars.

Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Thursday, Feb. 19. Race: Budweiser Duel
(Daytona 500 twin qualifiers). Site: Daytona International Speedway. Track:
2.5-mile tri-oval. Start time: 7 p.m. ET. Laps: 60 (each qualifier). Miles:
150. 2014 Winners: Matt Kenseth (race 1), Denny Hamlin (race 2). Television:
FOX Sports 1. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.