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Daytona 500 qualifying, explained: How pole is determined, what the twin Duels are and more

Here is how qualifying for the 2023 Daytona 500 will work and what is new at this year’s race.

Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Gander RV Duel At DAYTONA #1 at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

The 2023 NASCAR season kicks off this weekend and the Cup Series continues its annual tradition of opening with the Great American Race. The Daytona 500 airs this Sunday on Fox with the green flag dropping at 2:30 p.m. ET.

NASCAR uses a variety of qualifying methods to determine the starting lineup for each race. The Daytona 500 features a unique series of qualifying that features multiple rounds. A random draw is held on Tuesday to determine the order for single-car qualifying. The cars each run a single lap around the track to determine the pole-sitters and the starting lineups for the Bluegreen Vacations Duel races. Those then run on Thursday to set the full lineup for Sunday’s race.

That’s the tl;dr version of qualifying. We’ll run through the specifics of each segment below. Heading into qualifying, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, and Chase Elliott are co-favorites to win the Daytona 500 with +1200 odds at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Tuesday random draw

On Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m., there will be a random draw to determine the order in which Cup Series cars will leave pit road for Wednesday qualifying. The drivers that finished in the top 20 spots in owners’ points last season will get last 20 spots in qualifying.

Wednesday qualifying

Qualifying starts at 8:15 p.m. ET at Daytona International Speedway and it will air on FS1. Each driver will get one timed lap around the 2.5-mile superspeedway. The two fastest qualifiers will secure the top two spots for Sunday’s race, which puts them on the front row. The rest of the drivers will compete in the twin Duels on Thursday to determine the rest of the starting lineup for Sunday’s race. The order of the twin Duels will be determined by their qualifying finish on Wednesday.

Thursday Bluegreen Vacation Duels

The Duels are a pair of races, each consisting of 60 laps that cover 150 miles. The first Duel runs at 7 p.m. and the second Duel starts at approximately 8:45 p.m. ET. Both races will air at 8:45 p.m. ET. The results of the first duel determine the inner row of Sunday’s race and the results of the second duel determine the outer row.

Points Awarded for Qualifying

The top ten finishes in each Duel is awarded points that count toward the regular season, but they receive no playoff points. The winners of the duels will receive 10 points, the second-place finishers get nine points and so on down to the tenth-place finisher in each race.

What if it rains?

The weather report is calling for clear skies on Wednesday and some showers in the evening on Thursday. The Thursday rain shouldn’t be enough to cancel the Duels. If both Thursday races are canceled due to the weather and cannot be rescheduled, Wednesday’s qualifying results will determine the full Sunday starting lineup. If both Wednesday and Thursday qualifying events are canceled and cannot be rescheduled, the starting lineup will be set per the NASCAR Rule Book.