Daytona 500 2019: Starting Order, Top Drivers to Watch in the Duels

Jake RillContributor IIIFebruary 11, 2019

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 10:  William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, drives during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 10, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman had a strong start to Daytona Speedweeks on Sunday, as the duo posted the two fastest lap times during the final round of qualifying to earn front-row starting positions for the Daytona 500.

Byron, who is entering his second season in the Monster Energy Cup Series, earned a Busch Pole Award for the first time in his career. He posted a lap time of 46.319 seconds to edge Bowman, who started on the pole for last year's Daytona 500.

Hendrick Motorsports will have a driver on the pole for the Great American Race for the fifth straight year. Sunday was a strong day for the team overall, as Byron, Bowman, Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott had the four fastest times during the final round of qualifying, respectively.

But only the front row has been determined for the starting order for the Daytona 500. The rest of the field will be set with the Gander RV Duels at Daytona qualifying races on Thursday night.

          

Duel 1 Lineup (via NASCAR.com)

1. William Byron

2. Jimmie Johnson

3. Daniel Hemric

4. Martin Truex Jr.

5. Brad Keselowski

6. Paul Menard

7. Kyle Busch

8. Kevin Harvick

9. Tyler Reddick

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

11. Daniel Suarez

12. Chris Buescher

13. Ryan Newman

14. Ryan Truex

15. Ryan Preece

16. Matt Dibenedetto

17. Bubba Wallace

18. Matt Tifft

19. Parker Kligerman

20. Landon Cassill

21. Cody Ware

           

Duel 1 Drivers to Watch

Jimmie Johnson

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 10:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 10, 2019 in Daytona Bea
Jerry Markland/Getty Images

A seven-time Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson is already off to a strong start in 2019.

After posting the third-fastest qualifying time on Sunday—which earned him the No. 2 starting spot in the first 150-mile duel race—Johnson went on to win the rain-shortened Advance Auto Parts Clash later in the day. It was Johnson's first competitive outing with new crew chief Kevin Meendering.

Johnson will start on the front row for the first duel race, and it's quite possible he could stay up front for most of the 60-lap race, so the No. 48 car will definitely be one to watch.

        

Daniel Hemric

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 09:  Daniel Hemric, driver of the #8 Bass Pro Shops/Caterpillar Chevrolet, stands in the garage area  during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Februa
Jerry Markland/Getty Images

After posting the fifth-fastest time during the final round of qualifying, Hemric will now turn his attention to Thursday's duel race. The 28-year-old is entering his first full season in the Cup Series.

The Daytona 500 will be Hemric's third career Cup Series race—he raced at Richmond and Charlotte last year—and a strong starting position could provide a boost to the rookie.

Although Hemric has zero career NASCAR wins, he'll be looking for a strong start while driving the Richard Childress Racing No. 8 Chevrolet.

       

Ryan Newman

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 09:  Ryan Newman, driver of the #6 Oscar Mayer Deli Fresh Ford, stands in the garage area  during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 9, 2019
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Veteran Ryan Newman will be looking to earn a strong starting spot for the Daytona 500. It is his first season driving the Roush Fenway Racing No. 6 Ford.

Newman finished ninth out of 20 cars in Sunday's Advance Auto Parts Clash, so the extra track time could help the veteran notch a duel win. However, he'll have to find a way to the front of the field, as he starts 13th out of 21 cars in the first duel race.

Although Newman is a past Daytona 500 winner, he has never won a duel race. With a fresh start at a new team, this would be a good chance for Newman to start the 2019 season on the right note.

          

Duel 2 Lineup (via NASCAR.com)

1. Alex Bowman

2. Chase Elliott

3. Joey Logano

4. Clint Bowyer

5. Austin Dillon

6. Denny Hamlin

7. Erik Jones

8. Ryan Blaney

9. Aric Almirola

10. Kurt Busch

11. David Ragan

12. Michael McDowell

13. Casey Mears

14. Jamie McMurray

15. Brendan Gaughan

16. Kyle Larson

17. Ty Dillon

18. Ross Chastain

19. Corey LaJoie

20. B.J. McLeod

21. Joey Gase

      

Duel 2 Drivers to Watch

Joey Logano

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 09:  Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, stands in the garage area during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 9, 2019 in Dayto
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Coming off his first career Cup Series championship, Joey Logano should have momentum heading into the 2019 season. He had a strong showing during Daytona 500 qualifying, posting the sixth-fastest time of the final round.

Logano won the Daytona 500 in 2015 and the Advance Auto Parts Clash in 2017, so he has had some past success at the track.

There would be no better way for the reigning series champion to start the new season than by winning the second duel race and starting fourth in the Great American Race.

         

Austin Dillon

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 10:  Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 10, 2019 in Daytona Beach,
Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Austin Dillon won last year's Daytona 500, but he was winless over the final 35 races of the Cup Series season. Now Dillon will look to get off to a strong start in 2019.

Dillon had the 10th-fastest time during qualifying, so he'll start near the front of the field for the second duel race.

If Dillon also starts near the front of the field for the Great American Race, perhaps he'll go on to become the first driver to win back-to-back Daytona 500s since Sterling Marlin in 1994-95.

            

Kurt Busch

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 10:  Kurt Busch, driver of the #1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 10, 2019 in Dayton
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Entering his 19th season as a full-time driver in the Cup Series, Kurt Busch has a new ride for the 2019 season. After spending the past five seasons at Stewart-Haas Racing, Busch will drive the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet this season.

Busch will start in the middle of the field for the second duel race, but the veteran has had some early success during Daytona Speedweeks. He avoided a big wreck and finished second in Sunday's Advance Auto Parts Clash.

Busch won the 2017 Daytona 500, so he knows what it takes to come out on top at Daytona.  

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