Daytona 500 Qualifying 2018: Duels Starting Grid After Group Results

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2018

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 11:  Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, qualifies on the pole with a time of 46.002 seconds and a speed of 195.644 mph for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 11, 2018 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Alex Bowman secured pole position for the 2018 Daytona 500 with a qualifying lap of 46.002 seconds on Sunday.

He pushed Denny Hamlin, who ran a 46.132-second lap, into second place on the grid, but both will be delighted to have secured their starting spots for Sunday's 2018 Monster Energy Cup Series season opener.

The rest of the drivers must now look to Thursday's Can-Am Duels as they target the best possible starting spot for the Great American Race.

Those competing in the first Duel will fill out the inside row based on their positions in Thursday's 150-mile  race, while the second Duel will decide who occupies the outside rows.

Here are the lineups for the Duels, per Matthew Mayer of CBS Sports: 

Bowman, 24, and 37-year-old Hamlin will not be racing for position in the Duels as they have already locked down the front row.

However, the pair will likely use the opportunity to get some time on track ahead of the main event and get a feel for the competitiveness of the race.

For everyone else, the Duels will be vitally important for gaining a decent starting position.

Being at the front of the grid does not necessarily translate to a race win. 

Kurt Busch won the 2017 Daytona 500 from a starting position of eighth, and Hamlin was 11th on the grid when he triumphed in 2016.

However, it is crucial to make sure to at least be in the mix toward the front of the race in order to have the best chance of success.

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