Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is unlike any other auto racing qualifying procedure. Drivers have multiple opportunities to qualify for the season-opening race, as opposed to the usual format of one qualifying session per event.
The first chance comes via Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Qualifying, which will be held Sunday, Feb. 17 on FOX. The other chance is the Duel at Daytona, two 150-mile qualifying races held on Thursday, Feb. 21 on SPEED.
Below is a breakdown of the Daytona 500 qualifying procedure:
Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Qualifying
- Each team may run two consecutive laps with the fast lap setting the qualifying time. The two fastest qualifiers earn starting positions one and two and are the only guaranteed positions, filling the front row for the Daytona 500 and pole positions for the two qualifying races.
- The Duel at Daytona, two 150-mile qualifying races, will determine starting positions for the Daytona 500 beyond the front row.In the event of cancellation, the field will be set according to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rule Book.
Duel at Daytona
- Those cars earning odd-numbered positions from qualifying will be assigned to the first Duel race. Those cars earning even-numbered positions from qualifying will compete in the second race.
- The starting positions for each Duel race will also be based on qualifying times.
Daytona 500 Lineup
- The two fastest qualifiers set starting positions one and two.
- The highest 15 finishers in each Duel race – excluding the already locked-in front row – will earn a spot in the Daytona 500, and fill positions 3-32.
- Based on their finishing position in the first Duel race, the top 15 will line up on the inside row (odd-number starting positions).
- Based on their finishing position in the second Duel race, the top 15 will line up on the outside row (even-number starting positions).
- Positions 33-36 will go to the four fastest cars from qualifying that have not already earned a spot.
- Position 37-42 will be provisional positions, and go to the highest six cars in 2012 owner points that have not already qualified via the Duel or Coors Light Pole qualifying.
- The 43rd starting position will be assigned to any car owner who has the most recent eligible past NASCAR Sprint Cup champion who did not make the field by any other method, providing the driver had competed in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. If the 43rd position remains unused it will be assigned to the next highest car in 2012 owner points not already locked into the field.