Wreckage plagues Speedweeks before Daytona 500 field set

With only pole sitter Austin Dillon and second-place starter Martin Truex Jr. knowing exactly where they’ll be lining up for Sunday’s Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season-opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, the remainder of the 43-car starting field for the 500 miler will be set following two Budweiser Duel races on Thursday evening. The starting line-up for each one of the Daytona 500 qualifying races were set based on single-car qualifying runs from Feb. 16. The line-ups for the two races are as follows:

Duel 1

1. Austin Dillon
2. Greg Bififle
3. Ryan Newman
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
6. Marcos Ambrose
7. Aric Almirola
8. Joey Logano
9. Matt Kenseth
10. Kasey Kahne
11. Kyle Busch
12. Kevin Harvick
13. Danica Patrick
14. A.J. Allmendinger
15. Reed Sorenson
16. David Gilliland
17. Parker Kligerman
18. Tony Stewart
19. Brian Vickers
20. Cole Whitt
21. Michael McDowell
22. Josh Wise
23. Joe Nemechek
24. Alex Bowman
25. Dave Blaney

Duel 2

1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Carl Edwards
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Jeff Gordon
5. Paul Menard
6. Brian Scott
7. Jimmie Johnson
8. Casey Mears
9. Michael Annett
10. Clint Bowyer
11. Denny Hamlin
12. Kyle Larson
13. Trevor Bayne
14. Kurt Busch
15. Justin Allgaier
16. Landon Cassill
17. Michael Waltrip
18. Eric McClure
19. Jamie McMurray
20. David Ragan
21. Terry Labonte
22. Bobby Labonte
23. Ryan Truex
24. Morgan Shepherd

Several of the aforementioned drivers will fall to the back of the field prior to the green flag of their Duel races, either because of a changed engine or the move to a backup car. Danica Patrick, Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart suffered engine failures prior to the Feb. 16 front row qualifying session; therefore, they’ll start in the back of their Duel races and in the back for the Daytona 500.

At least six drivers are, reportedly, going to backup cars after getting caught up in at least one of two wrecks during practice on Wednesday. Those drivers include Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Parker Kligerman, Ryan Truex, Dave Blaney, and Brian Vickers. Blaney’s team didn’t bring a backup car to Daytona, but he’s hoping he can get a backup car from another team. Swan Racing, meanwhile, only brought one backup car for its two teams. That backup went to Kligerman, and repairs are expected to be made to teammate Cole Whitt’s heavily-damaged race car.

“It happens every year; you always hope you’re the one that’s not in it or you miss it,” Logano said. “We obviously can’t afford to wreck another one.”

The largest of the two wrecks brought an early end to the first practice on Wednesday to allow for repair to the catchfence. No fans or drivers were injured. The carnage from Wednesday’s practice follows a Sprint Unlimited exhibition race on Feb. 15 that saw more than half of the 18-car field fail to finish because of wrecks.

After the completion of the Budweiser Duels, positions three through 32 on the Daytona 500 starting grid will be set based on Duel finishes, with drivers in the first Duel claiming spots in the inside line, or odd-numbered positions, and driver in the second Duel claiming the outside line or even-numbered spots. NASCAR will then revert back to front-row qualifying results to set positions 33 through 36, awarding those spots to the fastest cars in that qualifying session that didn’t already claim a spot by virtue of their Duel race finishes.

The final spots will then be set by provisionals, using car owner poings from last season. The top-six cars in 2013 owner points not already in the Daytona 500 field will get positions 37 through 42. The final spot will go to the most recent past series champion not already having a spot on the starting grid. If there is not past champion remaining, the last position will go to the next car in line, based on 2013 owner points.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR

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Tags: Budweiser Duels Daytona 500 NASCAR SpeedWeeks

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