If you were disappointed by the Busch Clash on the Daytona road course layout Tuesday evening, then you are probably even more excited for cars to be back on the superspeedway for the two Daytona qualifying duels to set the starting lineup for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
“But Cam, why do we need to watch a non-points race?” First off, this is actually a points races as the top-10 finishers all receive points with the winner earning 10.
Well, let me lay out a few reasons for why you need to tune into Thursday evening’s Duels.
The buildup for the Daytona 500 truly begins
While Cup Series drivers did have one practice session on Wednesday, this will be the first time they are racing for something meaningful on the oval. It will be the first time drivers will get the feel of how their cars run in two-wide, three-wide and in the dreaded single-file train that will inevitably appear during the Duels so cars don’t get torn up before the 500.
Also, it’s superspeedway racing. We haven’t seen any since the Talladega race back on Oct. 4, 2020. Many have their concerns and issues with pack racing, but nothing oozes the thrills of NASCAR more than 20+ cars racing within a second of each other.
Get familiar with a ton of faces in new places
Jimmie Johnson on the pole? Nope, that’s driver of the former No. 88 car Alex Bowman that replaced Johnson in the No. 48 car for this season after the seven-time champion retired following last season’s finale.
There will be three debutant teams that fans and media alike will have to get used to with 23XI Racing (Bubba Wallace), Trackhouse Racing (Daniel Suarez) and Live Fast Motorsports (BJ McLeod).
Here’s a list of other new driver changes for this season:
- Chase Briscoe – No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford (rookie, full-time)
- Ross Chastain – No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy (full-time)
- Anthony Alfredo – No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford (rookie, full-time)
- Corey LaJoie – No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevy (full-time)
- Christopher Bell – No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (full-time)
- Kyle Larson – No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy (full-time)
- Erik Jones – No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevy (full-time)
Open cars fighting to make Daytona 500
In Wednesday’s single-car qualifying session, Ryan Preece and David Ragan locked themselves into the Daytona 500 with the top-two fastest speeds of the eight non-chartered cars entered into the race. So far, 38 cars are locked into the prestigious race with two spots up for grabs between six drivers.
Drivers fighting for those two spots are Ty Dillon (No. 96), Noah Gragson (No. 62), Austin Cindric (No. 33), Kaz Grala (No. 16), Garrett Smithley (No. 13) and Timmy Hill (No. 66).
Coverage for the Duels begins at 7:00 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1. The Motor Racing Network will provide your audible needs.