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Guide to the 2012 Gatorade Duels

by | CBSSports.com staff
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Are you befuddled by NASCAR's bizarre qualifying format for the Daytona 500? Well fret not, as we have everything you need to know about how the field will come to be set after Thursday's qualifying races.

For starters, 39 drivers are already locked into the field, though only the front row starting positions are actually set. There are 10 drivers vying for the four remaining starting spots.

Daytona 500 starting lineup

The front-row for the Daytona 500 is set based on Feb. 19 qualifying runs.

Pos. Driver No.MakeSpeed
1Carl Edwards99Ford194.738
2Greg Biffle16Ford194.087

Based on their finishing order in Duel 1, top 35 drivers plus the two highest non-top 35 drivers will be lined up in odd-number starting positions (3-5-7--39) for the 500. Based on their finishing order in Duel 2, top 35 drivers plus the two highest finishing non-top 35 drivers will get even-number starting positions (4-6-8--38).

The final four spots in the field will be filled by the fastest remaining non-top 35 qualifiers from Feb. 19, with the exception of the 43rd position, which would be assigned to an eligible past champion (if needed). Should there not be an eligible past champion, the position will be assigned to the next fastest non-top 35 qualifier not in the field.

Transfer-eligible drivers

Drivers not in the top 35 of owner points (including those already locked into the field based on Feb. 19 qualifying or by the past champion's provisional) are eligible for the two transfer spots in each qualifier. It's the so-called race within the race.

Duel 1 non-top 35 drivers
DriverNo.MakeQual. speed
Trevor Bayne21Ford193.615
David Stremme30Toyota191.963
Terry Labonte32Ford191.522
Michael Waltrip40Toyota191.180
Michael McDowell98Ford190.990
Mike Wallace37Ford189.853
Robby Gordon7Dodge188.229
 
Duel 2 non-top 35 drivers
DriverNo.MakeQual. speed
Tony Raines26Ford192.534
Kenny Wallace09Toyota191.567
Dave Blaney36Chevrolet191.506
Joe Nemechek87Toyota191.160
Bill Elliott97Toyota189.950
Robert Richardson Jr.23Toyota188.438
JJ Yeley49Toyota187.954

• Trevor Bayne and David Stremme from Duel 1 and Tony Raines from Duel 2 are already locked into the Daytona 500 since they were the three fastest non-top 35 qualifiers. However, the incentive remains to finish in a transfer spot to improve starting position for the 500. Without a transfer spot, none of these three are slated to start better than 40th.

• Terry Labonte is locked into the Daytona 500 by virtue of the past series champion's provisional. However, he can also make the field via a transfer position or possibly fall back on qualifying speed, which would then shift the champion's provisional to Bill Elliott should he need it.

• There are multiple ways for Kenny Wallace (Duel 2), Terry Labonte (Duel 1), Dave Blaney (Duel 2) and Michael Waltrip (Duel 1) to make the Daytona 500 field. The easiest way, of course, is for each driver to finish in one of the two transfer spots in his qualifying race. Barring that ...

K. Wallace: He will make the Daytona 500 based on his speed from qualifying if ...
  1. Bayne, Raines or Stremme finish in a transfer spot in either qualifying race
T. Labonte: He will make the Daytona 500 based on his speed from qualifying if ...
  1. The two transfer spots in Duel 1 are filled by Bayne and Stremme

  2. OR
  3. At least one of the two transfer spots in Duel 1 is filled by Bayne or Stremme AND at least one of the two transfer spots in Duel 2 is filled by Raines or K. Wallace

  4. OR
  5. The two transfer spots in Duel 2 are filled by Raines and K. Wallace
Blaney: He will make the Daytona 500 based on his speed from qualifying if ...
  1. The two transfer spots in Duel 1 are filled by a combination of Bayne, Stremme or T. Labonte AND at least one of the two transfer spots in Duel 2 is filled by Raines or K. Wallace

  2. OR
  3. At least one of the two transfer spots in Duel 1 is filled by Bayne, Stremme or T. Labonte AND the two transfer spots in Duel 2 are filled by Raines and K. Wallace
Waltrip: He will make the Daytona 500 based on his speed from Sunday's qualifying if ...
  1. The two transfer spots in Duel 1 are filled by a combination of Bayne, Stremme or T. Labonte AND the two transfer spots in Duel 2 are filled by a combination of Raines, K. Wallace or Blaney
• All other non-top 35 drivers must finish in one of the two transfer spots in his qualifying race to earn a starting spot in the Daytona 500.

Locked into field (Top 35 owner points)

These drivers are locked into the Daytona 500 by virtue of NASCAR's top 35 owner rule.

Duel 1 top 35 drivers
No.Driver Make
1Jamie McMurrayChevrolet
2Brad KeselowskiDodge
6Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Ford
9Marcos AmbroseToyota
10Danica PatrickChevrolet
11Denny HamlinToyota
14Tony StewartChevrolet
27Paul MenardChevrolet
29Kevin HarvickChevrolet
31Jeff BurtonChevrolet
34David RaganFord
38David GillilandFord
42Juan Pablo MontoyaChevrolet
43AJ AllmendingerFord
77Aric AlmirolaFord
83Landon CassillToyota
88Dale Earnhardt Jr.Chevrolet
 
Duel 2 top 35 drivers
No.Driver Make
5Kasey KahneChevrolet
13Casey MearsFord
15Clint BowyerChevrolet
17Matt KensethFord
18Kyle BuschToyota
20Joey LoganoToyota
24Jeff GordonChevrolet
33Elliott SadlerChevrolet
39Ryan NewmanChevrolet
47Bobby LabonteToyota
48Jimmie JohnsonChevrolet
51Kurt BuschDodge
55Mark MartinToyota
56Martin Truex Jr.Toyota
78Regan SmithChevrolet
93David ReutimannToyota

Daytona Speedweeks

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