DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The 64th running of the Daytona 500 will take place this Sunday, February 20th with 40 of the top Cup Series drivers vying to win the Harley J. Early trophy. Michael McDowell is the defending winner of the event.
To set the field, the Bluegreen Vacations Duel at Daytona will take place tonight (February 17th) with 21 drivers in each 150-mile race.
The Hendrick Motorsports duo of Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman are the only two guaranteed starting spots in the field, as they were able to qualify in the top two positions. The other 38 starting spots will be set by the finish of the duel races.
Points are also on the line tonight, acting as a NASCAR Stage would, with 10 points going to the eventual winners down to a single point for the 10th place finishers. With 36 chartered cars guaranteed a spot in the field, two drivers in the group of six go-or-go-home drivers will not make the field.
THE CUT LINE
Each duel will have three go-or-go homers in the field, but only four in total will advance to the 64th Daytona 500. Two drivers will be going home, but they won’t be Jacques Villeneuve or Noah Gragson, the two drivers who are guaranteed to be able to fall back on their time if they don’t race their way in.
Duel 1 will consist of Noah Gragson, Kaz Grala and JJ Yeley.
Duel 2 will consist of Jacques Villeneuve, Greg Biffle and Timmy Hill.
Two drivers will race their way in and two will be able to fall back on their times. Here’s how each driver can advance:
Noah Gragson / Jacques Villeneuve – Both of these drivers can make the Daytona 500 by finishing first of the three go-or-go-home drivers in their respective duel. Otherwise, they will be able to fall back on their qualifying time.
Kaz Grala – This driver can make the Daytona 500 by finishing first of the three go-or-go-home drivers in his respective duel (Duel 1) OR if at least one of the two drivers that qualified ahead of him races their way in, then he can fall back on his qualifying time.
Greg Biffle – This driver can make the Daytona 500 by finishing first of the three go-or-go-home drivers in his respective duel (Duel 2) OR if two of the three drivers that qualified ahead of him races their way in, then he can fall back on his qualifying time.
JJ Yeley / Timmy Hill – Both of these drivers can only make the Daytona 500 by finishing first of the three go-or-go-home drivers in their respective duels. They cannot fall back on qualifying times.
HOW TO WATCH
The duels will be live on FOX Sports 1 tonight. The first duel will start at approximately 7:00 p.m. ET and the second is tentatively set to take off at 8:45 p.m. ET.
Columnist / Reporter / Photographer / Webmaster for TheRacingExperts.com