Tuesday April 23rd, 2024 10:54AM

Qualifying on the front row for DAYTONA 500 has its benefits

By AccessWDUN Staff

For those who may be a casual NASCAR fan intrigued by the grandeur of the Daytona 500, qualifying for the Great American Race can be a bit confusing.

To those who know everything about the Daytona 500 qualifying, just play along.

The process starts on Wednesday night with the Busch Light Pole Qualifying for the DAYTONA 500 at 8 p.m. The fastest two drivers will be locked into the DAYTONA 500. Some competitors will argue their starting spot is of no consequence in the Great American Race, but the pole position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (nine) than any other position.

The DAYTONA 500 pole or first starting position has a winning percentage of 13.8%. The most recent driver to win the DAYTONA 500 from the pole was NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett in 2000. Dawsonville's Bill Elliott won the 500 from the pole twice in 1985 and 1987. 


1962 - Fireball Roberts
1966 - Richard Petty
1968 - Cale Yarborough
1980 - Buddy Baker
1984 - Cale Yarborough
1985 - Bill Elliott
1987 - Bill Elliott
1999 - Jeff Gordon
2000 - Dale Jarrett

In total, seven drivers have won the DAYTONA 500 from the pole. NASCAR Hall of Famers Bill Elliott (1985, 1987) and Cale Yarborough (1968, 1984) are the only two drivers to accomplish the feat more than once.

This week, eight former DAYTONA 500 pole winners are entered in the event – Kyle Larson (2022), Chase Elliott (2016, 2017), Alex Bowman (2018, 2021, 2023), Austin Dillon (2014), Martin Truex Jr. (2009), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2020), William Byron (2019), Jimmie Johnson (2002, 2008).

So, how the DAYTONA 500 starting lineups will be decided?

Setting the field for the DAYTONA 500 is unlike any other race in the world, and that is one of the many reasons why this event holds so much prestige.

Single-car qualifying on Feb. 14 will have two rounds, with the top 10 qualifiers in Round 1 moving on to the second round. The fastest two cars in Round 2 will lock in as the front-row starters for Sunday’s DAYTONA 500. 

The rest of the starting grid will be decided by the BlueGreen Vacations Duel – two 60-lap qualifying races.

First, the single-car qualifying results will set the lineups for the Bluegreen Vacation Duel races on Thursday evening. Cars finishing first, third, fifth, seventh, etc. in single-car runs will comprise the field for Duel 1. The cars in even-numbered finishing positions in single-car qualifying will comprise the field for Duel 2.

Then, the results from the Bluegreen Vacation Duels will set the starting lineup for the DAYTONA 500.

If more than 40 cars are entered in the race, the two fastest open cars, without a charter, in single-car qualifying will lock their way into the race regardless of the results of Thursday’s Duel. The final two spots of the 40-car field will be determined by the best finishers of the qualifying races.


Do you mean you have to race to get into the race? That’s right, welcome to the BlueGreen Vacations Duel.

(WDUN will carry live coverage of the BlueGreen Vacations Duels on Thursday, beginning at 6 p.m., on AM 550, FM 102.9 and streaming online.)

From 1972 to 2004, the Duels were each scheduled for 50 laps, and during that time frame, eight of the Duel events had a driver lead 100% of the laps from flag to flag – NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip was the first to accomplish the feat in 1988; he was later joined by Dale Earnhardt (1991,1998), Davey Allison (1991), Ernie Irvan (1996), Bill Elliott (2000), Ricky Rudd (2000) and Jeff Gordon (2002).

The race distance was updated to 60 laps in 2005, and ever since, the most a driver has led in a Duel event is 86.7% (52 laps of the scheduled 60) by Aric Almirola in 2021.

A total of 47 different drivers have won the NASCAR Cup Series BlueGreen Vacations Duel, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt with 12 Duel victories – seven more than the next competitor.

A total of 10 active drivers have won at least one of the Duel events at Daytona, led by Denny Hamlin (2008, 2014, 2017), Joey Logano (2019, 2020, 2023) and Kyle Busch (2009, 2013, 2016) with three victories each. The other seven active Duel winners are Dawsonville's Chase Elliott (2017, 2018), Jimmie Johnson (2010, 2015), Ryan Blaney (2018), William Byron (2020), Austin Dillon (2021), Brad Keselowski (2022) and Chris Buescher (2022).

Since 1972, seven times a driver has won the Duel he competed in and then went on to win the DAYTONA 500 in the same year. The last driver to accomplish the feat was Matt Kenseth in 2012 (Duel #2).

The NASCAR Wire Service contributed to this story. 

  • Associated Categories: NASCAR News, NASCAR Cup, Xfinity Series, SpeedWeeks
  • Associated Tags: Auto Racing, daytona 500, stock car racing, Daytona International Speedway, BlueGreen Vacation Duels
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