DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Confused about who is in and who is in trouble to make the Daytona 500?
No worries, here are answers to those questions.
Who is in the Daytona 500?
Jeff Gordon will start on the pole after posting the fastest lap in Sunday’s final round of qualifying at 201.293 mph. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson (201.135) starts second.
Positions 3-32 will be determined by how drivers finish in their respective Duel 150 qualifying races Thursday night.
Positions 33-36 go to the four fastest drivers not yet locked into the field. Aric Almirola (202.370 mph), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (202.334), Carl Edwards (202.315) and Jamie McMurray (202.247) have the four fastest speeds among those not locked in. Thus, no matter what happens in their qualifying race, they’re in the Daytona 500. They can improve their Daytona 500 starting spot by how they finish in their qualifying race.
Positions 37-42 are provisionals. Those go to the drivers whose teams are highest in car owner points and not yet locked into the field. The car owner points are based on last season. Guaranteed no worse than a provisional spot are defending champion Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman (second in car owner points last year), Denny Hamlin (third), Joey Logano (fourth), Brad Keselowski (fifth) and Matt Kenseth (seventh). Jeff Gordon was sixth in car owner points last year but already has secured a spot by winning the pole. That allows Kenseth to have the last provisional. All these drivers can improve their Daytona 500 starting spot by how they finish in their qualifying race.
The final spot is the past champion’s provisional. It goes to the most recent champion not yet locked into the field. That is Tony Stewart, whose most recent title came in 2011.
Who must race their way into the Daytona 500 during their qualifying race Thursday?
Ryan Blaney, David Ragan, Michael Annett, Justin Marks, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Reed Sorenson, who was involved in a crash during qualifying.