The starting lineup for the 2021 Daytona 500 could look different by the time the 40 drivers take the green flag Sunday.
Alex Bowman and William Byron earned the two front-row spots during Wednesday's qualifying session, but they both dealt with issues during Thursday's duels. Bowman's No. 48 car experienced some issues, while Byron's No. 24 machine was caught up in a massive wreck during the second duel.
Aric Almirola and Austin Dillon will begin the race on the second row by way of their respective duel wins, but if either of the Hendrick Motorsports cars has to go to the back of the field, they may lead the pack to green Sunday.
Daytona 500 TV Schedule
Date: Sunday, February 14
Start Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Fox Sports app and FoxSports.com.
Starting Order: Lineup can be found on NASCAR.com.
Bowman and Byron extended Hendrick Motorsports' Daytona 500 pole dominance Wednesday, but they may face tougher challenges than expected Sunday.
The No. 48 car experienced some type of vibration during Duel 1 on Thursday, so instead of competing for the win in that race, the crew tried to assess what went wrong.
Crew chief Greg Ives detailed what the No. 48 crew attempted to do to fix the problem, per NASCAR.com's Zack Albert:
"We talked through engine diagnostics and sent some guys over pit wall who don't normally go over the wall. Our Ally Racing team was able to go through some tire sets to make sure it wasn't that. There were a lot of things you always think you are going to be prepared for until you actually go through them. I feel like we did a good job understanding it and hopefully we are able to diagnose it and make sure everything is good."
If the No. 48 team discovers an engine issue before Sunday's race, Bowman would have to move to the back of the starting grid.
Byron might be in a tougher bind to get his car on to the front row for Sunday, as he was caught up in a wreck that took out a handful of vehicles in Duel 2. The Athletic's Jeff Gluck tweeted Thursday night that the No. 24 car started to work on the backup car.
Almirola and Dillon earned two types of victories to land on the second row. Almirola was in the front for most of Duel 1, while Dillon used a last-lap maneuver to get around Bubba Wallace and win Duel 2. Christopher Bell, Wallace, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch round out the top 10 of the starting order.
Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott starts 12th, but he could find himself near the front of the pack right away. Elliott's Hendrick teammate Kyle Larson and good friend Ryan Blaney start behind him in Row 7.
If the trio of drivers team up early, they could be in the mix to win the first stage of the 500-mile competition.
Two-time reigning Daytona 500 champion Denny Hamlin starts 25th position. He will also have some help, with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. beginning the race in 26th.
Hamlin and Truex are among a handful of notable drivers starting beneath 20th place. Brad Keselowski, Matt DiBenedetto, Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick and Erik Jones all have work to do to reach the front.