Daytona 500 2020: Starting Order, Top Drivers to Watch in the Duels

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2020

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 09: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., driver of the #47 Kroger Chevrolet, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series 62nd Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 09, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will start the 2020 Daytona 500 on pole after he went quickest in Sunday's qualifying event, while Alex Bowman will join him on the front row.

The former set a time of 46.253 seconds and a top speed of 194.582 miles per hour at the Daytona International Speedway, while the latter was close behind with a time of 46.305 and a speed of 194.363.


New season. New team. New 🏆 in the trophy case. @StenhouseJr takes the #BuschPole, and will lead the field to the green flag in the #DAYTONA500. https://t.co/ClwvethXNg

The remaining starting order will be determined by the results of Thursday's Bluegreen Vacations Duels, which will take place at 7 p.m. and 8:45 p.m. ET.

The Duels are comprised of 60-lap, 150-mile races that serve as warm-ups for next Sunday's 500-lap showpiece.

Drivers who finished in odd-numbered positions in Sunday's qualifying will take part in Duel 1 and take up odd-numbered positions in the final starting order, while those who finished in even-numbered positions will do the same in Duel 2.

As well as Stenhouse Jr., Duel 1 will include the likes of Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski. The full 22-car starting order can be found here.

In Duel 2, Bowman will be joined by Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick and William Byron, among others. The full 21-car starting order can be found here.


Drivers to Watch

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin is something of a specialist at Daytona. He's the defending Daytona 500 champion, having won the race last year for the second time, following his victory in the 2016 edition of the race.

He also has two podium finishes in the Great American Race and has also finished fourth on two occasions. In the Coke Zero 400, he has two further podium places to his name, so he'll be a significant threat in Duel 1 on Thursday.

In Sunday's memorable Busch Clash exhibition—in which only six of the 18 entrants after a series of crashes required three overtime periods—the 39-year-old produced one of the moments of the race.

A lap down on his rivals after a tire blowout in the second overtime, Hamlin pushed Joe Gibbs team-mate Erik Jones to victory:


It was a fight 'til the end! @Erik_Jones | #BuschClash https://t.co/PtpEJXEHEn

He did so having finished fifth in Sunday's Daytona 500 qualifying session with a time of 46.582.


Chase Elliott

Elliott's No. 9 car was among the casualties that did not manage to finish Sunday's Busch Clash:


"Goodness gracious!" That sums it up, @JeffGordonWeb. Calamity strikes again late in the #BuschClash. https://t.co/ktIdOBXC0D


A tough day at the office for @chaseelliott. #BuschClash https://t.co/MiDvKfLzfL

Elliott finished third in qualifying on Sunday with a time of 46.319, though, and he has an impressive qualifying record at the Daytona 500.

The 24-year-old has only taken part in the showpiece four times, and he's managed to take pole twice and start in fourth on the grid.

He's yet to convert his strong starting positions into strong finishes—his best result at the Daytona 500 is 14th—but after coming close to securing a place in the front row on Sunday, he'll be one of the top contenders to keep an eye on come Thursday.  


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