WBKR NASCAR Report: Budweiser Duels at Daytona

Blake Smith here.  If you haven’t heard the news from Sunday’s Daytona 500 qualifying, you may be living under a rock. Danica Patrick captured the pole position for this Sunday’s Daytona 500, becoming the first female to win the pole for a Sprint Cup Series race. Jeff Gordon qualified 2nd and also locked himself into a front row start.

Four drivers locked themselves into the Daytona 500 on speed, those drivers are Trevor Bayne, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne. Six other drivers are guaranteed to make the Daytona 500 on owner’s points, those drivers are Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Kurt Busch locked himself in with the past champion’s provisional. If any of those eleven drivers race their way into Sunday’s Daytona 500 by finishing 16th or better in their duel race, other drivers will be eligible to make the race on speed, owners points or past champions provisionals.

A past contest on the WBKR Waking Crew is “NASCAR Math” where listeners would add/subtract numbers by the driver’s car number to get a final result. This is a twist on “NASCAR Math” as I explain the Daytona 500 starting lineup. The lineup is determined as follows:

  • The two fastest qualifiers in qualifying set starting positions 1 and 2 (Patrick and Gordon)
  • The highest finishing 15 finishers in each duel race, excluding the locked in front row will fill positions 3-32. Based on their finishing position in the first duel race, the top 15 will line up on the inside row and obtain an odd number starting position for the Daytona 500. Based on the finishing position of those in the second duel race, the top 15 will line up on the outside row of the Daytona 500 starting lineup.
  • Positions 33-36 will be given to the four fastest cars from qualifying who have not already earned a spot.
  • Positions 37-42 will be provisional positions and will be given to the 6 highest cars in 2012 owners points that have not already qualified.
  • The 43rd and final position will be awarded to the car owner who has the most recent eligible NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion who did not make the field by any other method.

With 45 cars entered for Sunday’s Daytona 500, there will be a variety of strategies used during Thursday’s Budweiser Duel events. Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon are guaranteed a front row start and are likely to “play it safe” during Thursday’s duel races. The eleven drivers who are locked into the race also may “play it safe” if conditions become unsafe for a good finish and the car finishing the race in one piece.  My pick for the winner of the first duel race is Tony Stewart. I believe the second duel win will go to Kyle Busch. The two drivers who I expect to go home after Thursday’s races are Brian Keselowski in the #52 and Mike Bliss in the #19.

Due to WBKR's all day St. Jude Radiothon, coverage of the Budweiser Duels at Daytona will be moved to our sister station, AM 1490 WOMI. Tune in beginning at 12 PM!

-- Blake