Daytona 500 Qualifying 2020: Duels Starting Grid After Group Results

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistFebruary 11, 2020

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 09: A majority of the drivers in the field are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway on February 09, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Qualifying for the 2020 Daytona 500 starts to get serious on Thursday when the Bluegreen Vacations Duels decide the starting order ahead of the first race of this year's NASCAR Cup Series.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. recorded the fastest lap on Sunday to lock down pole position for this year's race, while Alex Bowman finished second-quickest to take outside pole.

Stenhouse finished seventh at the 2014 Daytona 500 and hopes to secure victory for his new team, JTG Daugherty Racing, while Hendrick Motorsports star Bowman is looking to finish in the top 10 for the first time.

Chase Elliott will line up on the front row of the first Duel grid, with Jimmie Johnson—a Hendrick team-mate and two-time winner of the Daytona 500—second in Duel 2. 

The Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, while the second instalment is set for 8:45 p.m. ET.

       

Duels Starting Grid

Duel 1

1. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 

2. Chase Elliott

3. Denny Hamlin

4. Aric Almirola

5. Christopher Bell

6. Joey Logano

7. Clint Bowyer

8. Ryan Newman 

9. Ryan Preece

10. Chris Buescher

11. Martin Truex Jr.

12. Brad Keselowski

13. John Hunter Nemechek

14. Ryan Blaney

15. Austin Dillon

16. Justin Haley

17. Bubba Wallace

18. Reed Sorenson

19. Daniel Suarez 

20. Quin Houff

21. Chad Finchum

22. Joey Gase

           

Duel 2

1. Alex Bowman 

2. Jimmie Johnson

3. Kyle Busch

4. William Byron 

5. Erik Jones

6. Kevin Harvick 

7. Cole Custer

8. Matt DiBenedetto

9. Tyler Reddick

10. Kyle Larson

11. Kurt Busch 

12. Michael McDowell

13. David Ragan

14. Ross Chastain

15. Ty Dillon

16. Brendan Gaughan

17. Timmy Hill

18. Corey Lajoie

19. JJ Yelev

20. Brennan Poole

21. BJ McLeod 

        

Drivers will venture out on a pair of 150-mile races on Thursday to determine the full starting lineup at Daytona International Speedway, with a mix of new faces in among more established names.

One of those emerging stars looking to make a statement is Erik Jones of Joe Gibbs Racing, who won a chaotic 2020 Busch Clash to attract some early attention as a possible contender in Daytona, Florida:

Five stoppages were called in an invitational exhibition race finished by only six of the 18 cars that started it, and Jones' crumpled front end served as testament to the level of ferocious competition:

Jones, 23, moved to Joe Gibbs for the 2018 season and finished third in the Daytona 500 the following year. He will be looking to continue that development and win the whole thing in 2020.

He'll have to wrest the title from a Joe Gibbs team-mate in Denny Hamlin if he is to come out on top, although the champion will be a tough figure to beat after winning two of the past four Daytona 500 races.

Hamlin, 39, has finished fourth or higher in six of the past eight Daytona 500 races and claimed his second crown with clear daylight between him and the field last year:

He'll start No. 3 in Duel 1 and has every chance of tying up an advantageous grid position ahead of Sunday, although the veteran has shown in the past he has the tenacity to contend from further back if necessary.

Kurt Busch and Austin Dillon were the other drivers who won Daytona titles between Hamlin's triumphs—2017 and 2018, respectively—while Johnson is the other multiple-time winner in the Duels field.

Elliott's father, Bill, started on pole four times at the Daytona 500 during his career and won twice, an honour Chase will be hoping to match in his budding career.

The 24-year-old took pole for Hendrick in each of his first two runnings at Daytona, and though he won't reclaim top spot on the grid in 2020, a fine performance in Duel 1 could ease his task come Sunday. 

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