The Daytona 500 is a NASCAR race unlike any other, and so is the qualifying procedure.
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 top 35 teams in the 2010 owner points standings are locked into the Daytona 500.
Drivers already locked into the race (listed in alphabetical order): AJ Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose, Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, David Gilliland, Jeff Gordon, Robby Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Bobby Labonte, Andy Lally, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Newman, David Ragan, David Reutimann, Robert Richardson, Regan Smith, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr., Brian Vickers, Steve Wallace
- The two fastest qualifiers on Daytona 500 qualifying day (Sunday, Feb. 13 at 1 p.m. ET on FOX) are locked into the front row. Each team may run two laps. The faster lap counts as a qualifying time.
- The Gatorade 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. The top two “non-top 35” teams in each Duel race will earn a spot in the Daytona 500.
- Based on their finish in the first Duel race, the eligible highest-ranked 35 in 2010 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 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. If the 43rd position remains unused, it will be assigned to the next highest qualifying time.
Drivers fighting for a spot in the field (in alphabetical order): Norm Benning, Dave Blaney, Todd Bodine, Kevin Conway, Derrike Cope, Bill Elliott, Brian Keselowski, Travis Kvapil, Terry Labonte, Michael McDowell, Casey Mears, Joe Nemechek, Michael Waltrip, J.J. Yeley.
Drivers eligible for the past champions provisional (in order of eligibility): Terry Labonte, Bill Elliott.