The engines have been silent for nearly three months, but on February 11, NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup Series gets the 2018 racing season started with qualifying for the Daytona 500.
Qualifying for the Great American Race is like no other. Today the drivers will vie for the front row and their starting spot in the Cam Am Duel races on Thursday February 15.
Along with a new season are new drivers and a change in teams and car numbers as long time drivers retire and young guns move up looking to make their mark on the sport.
There are 40 cars vying for 40 spots; which means that every entry will run in the Daytona 500 on February 18, it will just be a matter of where they will start.
Over the off season NASCAR has made a number of rule changes including no longer having a ride height. The change is expected to allow drivers to reach speeds approaching 200 milers per hour.
In single car qualifying, the drivers run slowest to fastest according to practice speeds on Saturday. Corey LaJoie was the first driver to make a qualifying run.
The Xfintiy Series routinely includes 75 year old Morgan Shepherd in its racing lineup. This year the Daytona 500 will include 66 year old Mark Thompson.
After the first round of qualifying the top 12 drivers will compete in round two for the pole position and the second front row spot with Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman in the number 88 car leading the field with a qualifying time of 46.181 seconds – 194 mph.
In his first year as the full time driver for the Nationwide number 88 Hendrick Motorsports car, Alex Bowman will sit on the pole with a qualifying time of 46.002 seconds – 195.64mph around the two and a half mile track.
Denny Hamlin will start the 2018 Daytona 500 alongside Bowman on the front row.
The remainder of the field will be set after the Dual races on Thursday night.\\feature photo credit: By Nascarking – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38678665