Daytona Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - The Budweiser Duel at Daytona International Speedway -- the twin 150-mile qualifying races -- will determine the starting lineup beyond the front row for Sunday's Daytona 500.
Thursday's twin-qualifiers will be held at nighttime for the second year in a row.
In last Sunday's time trials for the Daytona 500, in which NASCAR used its group qualifying format, Jeff Gordon won the pole position with a lap at 201.293 mph. This will be Gordon's 23rd and final Daytona 500. He is a three- time winner of that race. Jimmie Johnson will share the front row with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate after finishing second in time trials (201.135 mph).
The starting spots for each of the two qualifying races was determined in time trials. Drivers who finished in the odd-numbered positions were assigned to the first race, while drivers who finished in the even-numbered positions were placed in the final event. Gordon will start up front in the 25-car field for the first Duel, while Johnson will lead a field of 24 cars to the green flag for the second Duel.
The top-15 finishers in each Duel race -- not including Gordon or Johnson -- will fill positions 3-32 in the starting lineup for the Daytona 500. The top-15 finishers in the first Duel will make up the inside row (odd-number starting positions), while those who finish 1-15 in the second Duel will line up on the second row (even-number starting spots).
Starting positions 33-36 will go to those drivers who did not finish in the top-15 in their respective qualifying races but were among the top speeds during time trials. Spots 37-42 will go to the top-six cars in the 2014 Sprint Cup Series owner point standings that are not already locked in. The 43rd and final position is reserved for the most recent past series champion. If there is no eligible past champion, that spot will revert back to last year's owner points.
In addition to Gordon and Johnson, 11 other drivers are guaranteed a starting spot in the Daytona 500, no matter where they finish in the Duel.
Aric Almirola, Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. are locked in based on their speeds in time trials.
Kevin Harvick, the reigning Sprint Cup champion, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman have a spot reserved in Sunday's race by virtue of last year's owner points.
Tony Stewart is locked in since he is the most recent past champion (2011).
Michael Annett, Ryan Blaney, Ron Hornaday Jr., Justin Marks, David Ragan and Reed Sorenson need to race their way in during the Duel (finish among the top-15 in their respective races) in order to make the Daytona 500.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., the defending winner of the Daytona 500, and Hamlin will have to start from the rear of the field in the Duel after their cars failed post-qualifying inspection this past Sunday. Earnhardt's No. 88 Chevrolet did not meet the minimum height requirement, as it was found to be too low in the left front. The split on the track bar of Hamlin's No. 11 Toyota was too wide, 3.75 inches. The maximum split allowed is 3 inches. Both drivers had their times/speeds disallowed.
Danica Patrick, Jeb Burton and Annett will also have to start from the back of the field in the Duel after all three drivers crashed in Wednesday's first practice session and were forced to go to their backup cars.
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Thursday, Feb. 19. Race: Budweiser Duel (Daytona 500 twin qualifiers). Site: Daytona International Speedway. Track: 2.5-mile tri-oval. Start time: 7 p.m. ET. Laps: 60 (each qualifier). Miles: 150. 2014 Winners: Matt Kenseth (race 1), Denny Hamlin (race 2). Television: FOX Sports 1. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.