Daytona 500 qualifying, explained: Duels laps, rules & how 2024 race format will work

Daytona 500 qualifying, explained: Duels laps, rules & how 2024 race format will work

The one. The only. The Daytona 500.

The premier event of the racing season is finally here, as the Daytona 500 is set to kick off the stock car racing campaign.

Like any other event in the sport, qualifying has to take place before the competition can officially kick off. While at other race tracks, qualifying is just another mark on the check list, not every track is Daytona.

The “Great American Race” has a qualification process of its own, turning a one-day event into a multi-day spectacle. It’s part of what makes the Daytona 500 such marquee viewing on the calendar.

Here’s how qualifying works at one of NASCAR’s biggest events, the Daytona 500.

Daytona 500 qualifying, explained

The Daytona 500 features a unique qualifying format.

The two-part process starts with single-car qualifying, which pits racers in a race against time. All 42 drivers complete one lap at top speed. Then the top 10 drivers complete another lap, and the top two from that lap secure a spot in the front row for Sunday’s race.

For 2024, Joey Logano and Michael McDowell earned those prime spots.

The rest of the drivers move on to what is referred to as Daytona Duels.

What are Daytona Duels?
The Daytona Duels dictate the rest of the starting grid.

Thursday brings of a grueling 60-lap (150-mile) showdown in which racers placed in odd positions (third, fifth, seventh, etc.) the night before compete in Duel 1, followed by those who placed in even positions (fourth, sixth, eighth, etc.) in Duel 2. The winner of the first Duel starts third in the Daytona 500, and the winner of the second Duel starts fourth, and the finishing orders for each duel set the slots for the rest of the race.

Chartered teams are guaranteed a spot in the Daytona 500, meaning 36 drivers are simply competing to figure out where they will start Sunday’s race. However, the duels feature a 40-car field, so there are four non-chartered teams that can use qualifying to gain a position in the big race.

Daytona Duels 2024 start times
Duel 1: Thursday, 7 p.m. ET
Duel 2: Thursday, 8:45 p.m. ET (approx.)
Duel 1 will consist of odd-number finishers (third, fifth, seventh, etc.) from time trials. Conversely, Duel 2 will feature the trial’s even-numbered participants (fourth, sixth, eighth, etc.)

Daytona Duels 2024 TV channel, live stream
TV networks: FS1 (USA), TSN (Canada)
Live stream: FoxSports.com, Fox Sports App, fuboTV
FS1 will handle the coverage for Thursday’s races. Fox’s 2024 NASCAR Cup Series broadcast team includes Mike Joy, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer.