The Daytona 500 is a NASCAR race unlike any other ... and so is the qualifying procedure for the event.
Drivers have two chances to qualify for the season-opening race, as opposed to the one qualifying session format used at other races.
Here's the breakdown:
The two fastest qualifiers on Daytona 500 qualifying day are locked into the front row. Each team may run two laps with the fast lap counting as a qualifying time.
Drivers locked into the field via the Top 35 owners points rule (ordered by car number): David Reutimann, Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, David Ragan, Robby Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Elliott Sader, Joey Logano, Jeff Gordon, Boris Said, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, John Andretti, Travis Kvapil, Robert Richardson, Ryan Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya, AJ Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Sam Hornish Jr., Regan Smith, Brian Vickers, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Paul Menard, Carl Edwards.
Finishing positions in the Gatorade Duel races will determine the other starting positions in the Daytona 500. The Gatorade Duel at Daytona, two 150-mile qualifying races, 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. Finishing positions in the Gatorade Duel races will determine the other starting positions in the Daytona 500. The top two "non-top 35" teams in each Duel race will earn a spot in the Daytona 500.
Drivers fighting for a spot in the field: Aric Almirola, Max Papis, Bill Elliott, Kirk Shelmerdine, Reed Sorenson, Mike Bliss, Terry Cook, David Gilliland, Michael Waltrip, Michael McDowell, Norm Benning, Dave Blaney, Bobby Labonte, Derrike Cope, Scott Speed, Joe Nemechek, Casey Mears, Mike Wallace, Jeff Fuller.
Based on their finish in the first Duel race, the highest-ranked 35 in 2009 car owner points plus the two highest finishing non-top 35 teams will be lined up on the inside row (odd-number starting positions). Based on their finish in the second Duel race, the eligible highest-ranked 35 plus the two highest finishing non-top 35 teams will be lined up on the outside row (even-number starting positions). The remaining positions will be filled based on qualifying. If one or both teams on the front row are not top-35 teams, the number of teams that get in based on time are reduced accordingly. The 43rd starting position will be assigned to any owner who has the most recent eligible past NASCAR Sprint Cup champion who did not make the race by any other method providing the driver competed in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. If the 43rd position remains unused it will be assigned to the next highest qualifying time.
Drivers eligible for the past champions provisional (in order of eligibility): Bobby Labonte, Bill Elliott
More on the Gatorade Duel
The highest-ranked 35 teams in final 2009 car owner points will be assigned to Gatorade Duel races based on those points. Teams with odd-numbered owner points positions will compete in the first Gatorade Duel race; even-numbered owners will compete in the second. The only exception is that the fastest qualifier from Daytona 500 qualifying will start on the pole in the first Gatorade Duel race and the second fastest qualifier will start on the pole in the second, regardless of 2009 car owner points. Teams who failed to finish in the top 35 of the 2009 owner points will be assigned to a Gatorade Duel race based on qualifying times. The fastest qualifying team goes to the first Duel; the second-fastest next to the second, etc., alternating through the remaining entries. Starting positions for the Gatorade Duel races are based on qualifying times.