Quick primer for today’s unique Daytona 500 qualifying

Qualifying for the Daytona 500 gets underway today at 1 p.m. ET and will be televised live on FOX.

Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is unlike qualifying for any other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, and that’s especially true this year with the advent of the Charter system.

Here’s a quick primer on Daytona 500 qualifying, which takes place today at 1 p.m. ET live on FOX.

A total of 44 cars are entered for the 40-car field in the Daytona 500. Today, all 44 drivers will attempt to qualify individually. Each driver will get a warm-up lap and one timed lap.

After all 44 drivers have made his or her qualifying lap, the 12 fastest qualifiers will then take part in a second round of single-car qualifying. The driver who is fastest in the second round of qualifying will be the Daytona 500 polesitter. The second-fastest driver in Round 2 will start the 500 on the outside of Row 1.

Starting positions 3-40 will be determined in Thursday night’s Can-Am Duel qualifying races at Daytona.

In the 40-car field, the 36 Charter teams are guaranteed starting spots. There are eight non-charter teams — NASCAR calls them "Open" teams — in the 500. Four of the eight will qualify for the 500 and four won’t. 

The highest finishing Open team in each Can-Am Duel race will earn a starting position in the 500.

The final two starting positions will be awarded to Open teams based on qualifying speed if not already a top finisher in a Duel race.

Qualifying sets the front row for the Daytona 500 and the starting lineup for the Can-Am Duel fields, with the number of Charter team and Open team cars split evenly throughout both races.