2016 Daytona 500: Who's in, who's out

Photo by Jeremy Thompson/TheRacingExperts.com
Michael McDowell races side-by-side with Regan Smith in Can-Am Duel No. 1 Thursday night at
Daytona International Speedway.

By Dominic Aragon
February 19, 2016


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—Michael McDowell and Robert Richardson Jr. raced their way into the Daytona 500 with help from two fellow non-chartered teams Thursday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Ryan Blaney's third place finish in Can-Am Duel No. 1 enabled McDowell to fall back on his qualifying effort from Sunday, no matter his finishing position. 

The same scenario was in effect for Robert Richardson Jr., whose teammate Matt DiBenedetto finished ninth in Can-Am Duel No. 2.

"It's unbelievable to have a spot in the 500," McDowell said post-race to The Racing Experts. "There's a lot of excitement, but there's a big relief just to make the race and a lot of pressure. The race didn't go great, it wasn't exactly how we wanted it to play out, but at the end there, we were in a good spot and we were protect our position and lock ourselves in the 500."

Sunday will mark McDowell's fifth career start in the Daytona 500.

Photo by Jeremy Thompson/TheRacingExperts.com
Josh Wise races during Can-Am Duel No. 1 at Daytona International Speedway Thursday night.

Richardson Jr., who will make his ninth career Sprint Cup start in Sunday's race, will be racing in his third career Daytona 500.

"The stress that I've been putting just on myself in general to make this race, I've been pacing the floor ever since I woke up this morning just eager to get this race underway, just eager to see how the outcome would happen," Richardson Jr. said to The Racing Experts. "I'm still in awe that this happened.  I'm very, very thankful for Mike Ford, for Ron Devine, Toyota, Lane Segerstrom with StalkIt, my family, friends, wife.  I just couldn't be more blessed than I am right now."


Four drivers did not qualify for Sunday's race. 

Cole Whitt, who has run in the last two Daytona 500s, failed to qualify for Sunday's race, ending a streak of 72 consecutive starts.

"I was being pretty patient, and just trying to get up there and just let the race kind of play out, and see where it would have lined us up," Whitt said to The Racing Experts post-race. "We knew our circumstances, we knew we had to outrun go-or-go-home car and the 59 was going to be our one to beat the way the race played out, and I felt like we were in a decent spot to do that. 

"We lost third gear coming off of pit road and so getting to fourth, I had him beat off of pit road, but then losing that, he got back by us."

Josh Wise finished 17th in Can-Am Duel No. 1, four spots short of a transfer spot. 

"Yeah, I mean, it sucks, now; we didn't want to come here and miss this race," Wise said to The Racing Experts. "The top lane moved on the starts, and for me, I had to have people behind me to really hold my ground in any line I was in.

Photo by Jeremy Thompson/TheRacingExperts.com
Robert Richardson Jr. and Matt DiBenedetto address the media post-race Thursday night at Daytona International Speedway.
"I just probably anticipated the move to the top and the bottom a half-a-lap too late. Yeah, it sucks."

Reed Sorenson finished 11th in Can-Am Duel No. 2, three spots short of the final transfer spot for Sunday's race.

David Gilliland finished 12th, four spots short of transferring into the Daytona 500. 

"Our car just didn’t have enough speed," Gilliland said. "We kind of lost that front group and got behind and then with it going green the whole time—we had a good pit stop and got on and off pit road good, but it just wasn’t quite enough."

Which driver will finish highest on Sunday?
Ryan Blaney
Michael McDowell
Matt DiBendetto
Robert Richardson Jr.
Poll Maker