Daytona 500 Qualifying Stream : The 2020 NASCAR Cup Series gets underway on Sunday at the Daytona International Speedway with 40 of the world’s best drivers going for glory in the prestigious Daytona 500. Denny Hamlin took victory in 2019 for the second time in his career and will be aiming to retain his title.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will start the race from pole position after edging out Alex Bowman, who will start from second on the grid for the second year running. Series champion Busch may have two championships and more than 200 NASCAR race wins to his name but he has never tasted victory at the Daytona 500 in 14 attempts at the Great American Race.
Yet the 34-year-old’s lack of success at Daytona Beach, Florida does not appear to have affected his confidence given his comments in the build-up to the season’s curtain-raiser:
Busch came close to ending his drought last season. He led with less than 10 laps to go but ended up finishing second behind his Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Hamlin.
The veteran has won two of the past five series titles but will start Sunday’s bid for his first Daytona 500 title in 28th after finishing 13th in the second Duel race.
Hamlin is a man who knows what it takes to win the Daytona 500 and has spoken about his dramatic victory in 2019. Victory on Sunday would see him become the first champion to repeat since Sterling Martin in 1995 and only the sixth driver to win the famous race at least three times.
Joey Logano is another driver tipped to claim glory on Sunday. The 2015 winner and 2018 series champion has not had the smoothest preparation with a big crash that did not impress team-mate Brad Keselowski. Logano, Hamlin, Busch and Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott are all among the top favourites to begin the 2020 season in style in what promises to be yet another enthralling day of action at Daytona.
Heading into Thursday’s Bluegreen Vacations Duel races at Daytona, we already knew the front row for Sunday’s Daytona 500 main event — superspeedway ace Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is on the Busch Pole, and Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman will start second for the second consecutive year when the green flag drops Feb. 16 (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
As a refresher, Duel 1 results set the inside row of the Daytona 500 starting lineup. Duel 2 set the outside row. The 36 Charter teams are guaranteed a spot in the Daytona 500 field, and seven Open, non-charter teams competed for the final four spots.
The starting lineup for the 62nd Daytona 500 is set after Thursday night’s Duels at Daytona races at Daytona International Speedway.
Joey Logano roared to the win in the first race, securing himself a place on the inside of the second row for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who won the Daytona 500 pole last weekend, raced Logano for the win in the closing laps before dropping back. He finished eighth.
In the nightcap, Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Jimmie Johnson finished 1-2 after a near-wreck on the final lap. Byron will start fourth on Sunday while Johnson will roll off sixth. That finish means three Hendrick cars will start in the top six and nose to tail on the outside row. Hendrick driver Kyle Bowman will start second after earning that spot in pole qualifying.
Kyle Busch, the 2019 Cup Series champion, will start 28th after finishing 13th in the second Duel race.
Daniel Suarez lost his chance to make the 500 after he and Ryan Blaney made contact with their cars near the entrance to pit road on Lap 30 of the night’s first 60-lap race. The crash sent Suarez’s car into the infield grass, which caused extensive damage to the car’s splitter and hood. NASCAR granted Blaney’s team permission to switch to a backup car for the Daytona 500. Blaney will start at the rear of the field Sunday.
Sunday’s pole qualifying set the front row for the Daytona 500, with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earning the pole and Alex Bowman recording the second-fastest lap. Thursday night’s Duels set the rest of the field for the Daytona 500 — the results of Duel 1 determined the inside row, and the results of Duel 2 set the outside row.
Kevin Harvick might have had the best car in the second Daytona 500 qualifying race Thursday night, but he also was realist as he drove his Ford around following a fourth-place finish.
“Beat by numbers there,” Harvick told his team after Chevrolets took the three top spots — and seven of the top 11.
The Daytona 500 likely will turn into a numbers game Sunday (FOX, 2:30 p.m. ET) at Daytona International Speedway: The number of cars left and the number of cars from each manufacturer.
If the qualifying races Thursday and the Busch Clash the previous Sunday showed anything, it showed that teams remained determined to work primarily with cars of their manufacturer. That Hendrick-Toyota thing the 2019 Daytona 500 had going on that resulted in Toyota’s Denny Hamlin capturing the victory despite plenty of Ford prowess? Don’t count on it.