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Questions about new Daytona 500 qualifying format? Here are answers

3rd Annual Sprint Unlimited at Daytona - Practice

3rd Annual Sprint Unlimited at Daytona - Practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - For the first time, the Daytona 500 pole will be set by group qualifying Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.

With speeds in Saturday’s practice above 200 mph, this could make the first time the Daytona 500 pole speed tops 200 since 1987 when Bill Elliott went 210.364 mph - before restrictor plates were used.

Here’s how Sunday’s qualifying format will work and who is in each group, which is based on a random draw:


  • Two groups of cars, five minutes each
  • Seven-minute break between each group
  • 24 fastest cars advance to the second round
  • 10-minute break before the second round


  • Five minutes in length
  • 12 fastest cars advance to the final round
  • Seven-minute break before the final round


  • Five minutes in length
  • Fastest lap earns the pole position
  • Only pole and second-place positions are set
  • Remainder of starting positions will be set primarily in next week’s qualifying races

A random draw Saturday determined the qualifying order. Those drawing an odd number are assigned to the first group in the opening round. The remaining cars will be in the second round.

All four Stewart-Haas Racing cars - Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick and Tony Stewart - are in the first group. Also in this group are Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano as well as Ryan Blaney, whose Wood Brothers team is aligned with Team Penske.

All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers - Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon - will be in the second group in the opening round.


Brad Keselowski

Bobby Labonte

Kevin Harvick

JJ Yelled

Denny Hamlin

Brian Scott

Joey Logano

Sam Hornish Jr.

Kurt Busch

Michael Annett

Clint Bowyer

Trevor Bayne

Justin Allgaier

Greg Biffle

Mike Wallace

Cole Whitt

Casey Mears

David Gilliland

David Ragan

Jeb Burton

Ryan Blaney

Danica Patrick

Reed Sorenson

Tony Stewart

Austin Dillon


Paul Menard

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Matt Kenseth

Ron Hornaday Jr.

Ryan Newman

Alex Bowman

Jamie McMurray

AJ Allmendinger

Johnny Sauter

Jimmie Johnson

Josh Wise

Kasey Kahne

Ty Dillon

Michael Waltrip

Aric Almirola

Kyle Larson

Landon Cassill

Justin Marks

Kyle Busch

Jeff Gordon

Carl Edwards

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Martin Truex Jr.

Michael McDowell

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