|credit: NASCAR Media|
It’s known as the “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing,” so why should qualifying for the Daytona 500 being anything less than epic – or confusing? Here's what it takes to qualify for the season-opening race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
- Drivers qualify for the 500 over two days: Daytona 500 Qualifying Day, held the Sunday before the race (Feb. 19 in 2017), sets the front row for the 500 and starting positions for the Can-Am Duel; and the Can-Am Duel at Daytona, held the Thursday before the race (Feb. 23 in 2017) and consisting of two 60-lap, 150-mile qualifying races.
- In 2017, Daytona 500 qualifying returns to a single-car qualifying format with three qualifying sessions. The top 24 cars on time move on from session one, the top 12 cars on time move on to the final session after session two, then those 12 cars will race for the front row in the final session. From these qualifying sessions, only the front row (positions Nos. 1 and 2) are locked in for the Daytona 500. The remainder of the qualifying session speeds/times will be used to fill the fields for the Can-Am Duel at Daytona.
- Drivers earning odd-number positions through qualifying will be assigned to the first Duel race, while those earning even-number qualifying positions will be assigned to the second Duel race.
- Due to the charter system instituted in 2016, the 36 chartered Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams are guaranteed starting positions in the Daytona 500 and all other races during the season. This limits the number of “open” teams able to qualify for a race to four.
- The top 15 drivers in each Duel, excluding the drivers already locked in on the front row, will fill spots Nos. 3-32 in the Daytona 500 grid, with drivers from race No. 1 in odd-numbered starting positions and drivers from race No. 2 in even-numbered starting positions. Position Nos. 33-36 go to the four fastest cars that did not qualify through the Duel races. Position Nos. 37-39 go to the top three drivers who did not qualify on speed, based on the previous season’s owner’s points, while position No. 40 goes to either the most recent Cup Series champion not qualified on speed, or the fourth driver in owner’s points from the previous season who did not make it in the field on time. As mentioned previously, chartered teams receive precedence in qualifying.
- Beginning with the 2017 season, the Can-Am Duel at Daytona races are now considered “segments” in the Daytona 500, with points being awarded to the top 10 finishers in each race (10 for the first-place finisher, down to one for the 10th-place finisher).
- Learn more about Daytona 500 qualifying and Speedweeks at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.