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February 13, 2023

How Daytona 500 qualifying works; Bluegreen Vacations Duels procedure


Cup cars race at Daytona
Sean Gardner
Getty Images

NASCAR’s season kicks off in grand fashion with the biggest race of the year in the Daytona 500. Unique to the “Great American Race” is the qualifying format that includes single-car qualifying and the Bluegreen Vacations Duels that will set the 40-car starting lineup. Here’s a breakdown of how it all plays out.

What time is Daytona 500 single-car qualifying?

Speedweeks festivities begin with a random draw Tuesday afternoon that will determine how cars will roll off pit road for Daytona 500 qualifying. The top 20 in owners points from the previous season will hold the last 20 spots to go in the Wednesday evening session that is scheduled to begin at 8:15 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Each entrant will get one timed lap around the 2.5-mile superspeedway. The two fastest qualifiers will be locked into the front row for Sunday’s Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The rest of the race lineup will be determined by Thursday evening’s Duels.

Chevrolet has won the last 10 Daytona 500 pole awards with Hendrick Motorsports claiming seven in that span. The 2021 Cup Series champion Kyle Larson is the most recent pole winner.

RELATED: Full Daytona schedule | Daytona 500 pole winners

How do the Duels set the Daytona 500 lineup?

The Bluegreen Vacations Duels will set the lineup from third to 40th for the season opener.

Both races will consist of 60 laps, 150 miles with lineups that were set by the previous night’s qualifying session. The finishers of the first duel will make up the inside rows for the Daytona 500 while the second duel will make up the outside rows.

The charter and open teams will be balanced out with 18 Charters in each duel race and three Open cars [currently] given the six open entrants.

The first Bluegreen Vacations Duel is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on Thursday while Duel No. 2 is tentatively scheduled for 8:45 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Can open teams qualify for the Daytona 500?

With a 40-car field and 36 guaranteed spots for chartered teams, the “Great American Race” will have four non-chartered teams make the show. If there are more than 40 entrants for the Daytona 500, there will be open teams that won’t qualify for the race.

The two fastest open teams in single-car qualifying will automatically lock into the Daytona 500 without needing to race their way through the Duels. The last two spots will be determined in the duel races.

The highest finishing Open team in each Duel race will earn a spot in the Daytona 500. If the highest finishing Open team already earned a spot in qualifying, then the next fastest Open car in qualifying will lock into the Daytona 500.

There are expected to be at least 42 entries in this year’s Daytona 500, which means two open teams will go home before Sunday. Drivers that will have to make the race in this matter are: seven-time Cup champ Jimmie Johnson, 2022 Truck Series champion Zane Smith, Austin Hill, Travis Pastrana, Chandler Smith and Conor Daly.

RELATED: TV schedule for Daytona 500 week

Are points awarded in the Duels?

The top-10 finishers in each duel will be rewarded points that count toward the regular season but no playoff points will be awarded to the winners of each duel race. The winners of the duels will receive 10 points, the second-place finishers get nine points and so on to the 10th-place finishers who will get one point.

What happens if there is a rainout?

If both duels are canceled due to inclement weather, NASCAR officials will determine the four open teams making the Daytona 500 based on Wednesday’s qualifying results.

In the event just the second duel gets canceled, then NASCAR officials will award the open Daytona 500 spots to the highest-finishing open car in the first duel and determine the other three spots based on qualifying results.

If all qualifying events leading up to the Daytona 500 are canceled and cannot be rescheduled, the starting lineup will be set per the NASCAR Rule Book.

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