Qualifying for the DAYTONA 500 is different from any other race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season, as the starting lineup – except for the two drivers that post the two fastest timed laps in the final round of qualifying – isn't set on qualifying day. In fact, the two Can-Am Duel races on Thursday, February 18 set the rest of the starting lineup for The Great American Race.
How It Works:
Before the Can-Am Duel
The two fastest qualifiers above (the Daytona 500 pole winner and the "outside pole" winner) are awarded the first starting position on the grid for each of the two Can-Am Duel races, respectively. The next four drivers are locked into the 500, but there starting positions are not yet set.
Thirty-six Charter teams will be assigned a starting position, while four Open teams are eligible for starting positions. The highest finishing Open team in each Can-Am Duel race earns a starting position. The final two starting positions are awarded to Open teams based on Coors Light Pole Qualifying if not already a top finisher in a Duel race.
Among the 12 drivers who made it to the third and final round of DAYTONA 500 Qualifying By Kroger, drivers who qualified in odd-numbered positions will start in the first Can-Am Duel, while those who qualified in even-numbered positions will start in the second Can-Am Duel. It’s with this procedure that positions 1-6 are set in each duel.
The twelve drivers that were eliminated after the second round of DAYTONA 500 Qualifying By Kroger will have their starting positions determined by their second round times. The fastest driver eliminated in the second round will start 7th in the first Can-Am Duel, while the second-fastest driver in the second qualifying round will start 7th in the second Can-Am Duel. Starting positions for the rest of the second-round field will continue to be determined in this manner, with those qualifying in odd-numbered positions starting in the first Can-Am Duel and those qualifying in even-numbered positions starting in the second Can-Am Duel.
Drivers eliminated after the first round of DAYTONA 500 Qualifying By Kroger will have their starting positions determined by their first round times. The fastest driver eliminated in the second round will start 13th in the first Can-Am Duel, while the second-fastest driver in the second qualifying round will start 13th in the second Can-Am Duel. Starting positions for the rest of the field will continue to be determined in this manner, with those qualifying in odd-numbered positions starting in the first Can-Am Duel and those qualifying in even-numbered positions starting in the second Can-Am Duel.
After the Duels
The highest 15 finishers in each Can-Am Duel race — excluding the polesitter in each race — will earn a spot in the DAYTONA 500 and fill positions 3-32. Based on finishing position in the Can-Am Duel, those competing in the first race will line up on the inside row in the odd-number starting positions, while those from the second Can-Am Duel will line up in the even-number spots.
The next four positions (33-36) go to the four fastest cars from qualifying that have not already earned a spot in the field. The next six positions (37-42) will go to the highest cars in 2015 owners points that have not already earned a spot in the field.
The final position is assigned to the car owner with the most recent eligible past champion that did compete in 2015, but did not make the field. If there is no one who meets that criteria, then the slot will go to the next highest car in 2015 owners points that is not already in the field.
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