DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – While Hendrick Motorsports became the first organization in history to qualify one-two-three-four for the Daytona 500 last Sunday, only two of those starting spots are locked in for “The Great American Race.”
William Byron sits on the pole with Alex Bowman beside him in the outside pole for next Sunday’s Daytona 500.
But the rest of Sunday’s starting grid will be solidified this week.
That’s what Thursday evening’s two 60-lap, 150-mile Duels at Daytona International Speedway are for. The results will determine who will line up in the majority of spots on the starting grid for “The Great American Race.”
This year, two Hendrick Motorsports teammates will participate in each of the two Duels.
Byron will start the first Duel – which begins at 7 p.m. ET – on the pole with Jimmie Johnson on the outside pole.
Bowman will start the second Duel – which begins at 9 p.m. ET – on the pole with Chase Elliott on the outside pole.
The first Duel will set the inside row of the Daytona 500 starting grid, while the second Duel will determine the outside row. For example, the winner of the first Duel would start third in the Daytona 500 behind Byron – unless Byron himself wins, then the Duel’s second-place finisher would line up third.
Additionally, the top-10 finishers in each Duel will be awarded points, similar to stage finishes for the rest of the season.
The winner of each Duel will receive 10 points, with second-place receiving nine points all the way down to a single point for the 10th-place finisher.
That means two drivers – the winner of each Duel – will enter the Daytona 500 tied for the points lead.
Hendrick Motorsports has won at least one Duel race in each of the past four seasons, part of a streak of seven consecutive Daytona Speedweeks with at least one win for the organization.
Both Duels will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.