It's Gatorade Duel day in Daytona. Today, 33 drivers will find out where they will start in Sunday's Daytona 500, while 13 will find out if they're even starting at all.
The twin 150-mile qualifying races always produce some of the most exciting and dramatic moments of all of Speedweeks, simultaneously resulting in heartwarming and heartbreaking stories for the drivers who make and miss the Great American Race.
Time: 2 p.m. Eastern
TV Broadcast: SPEED, beginning with NASCAR RaceDay at 1 p.m.
Starting grid: Right here.
Broadcasters: Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds
Pit Reporters: Dick Berggren, Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum, Krista Voda
Defending Champions: Race 1: Jimmie Johnson; Race 2: Kasey Kahne
Pole Sitters: Race 1: Dale Earnhardt Jr.; Race 2: Jeff Gordon
Who gets in, who gets left out? Four drivers assured themselves of starting the Daytona 500 in qualifying last Sunday. Four more of the remaining nine drivers not yet in the field will score a spot in the field. The other five will have to pack up and leave Florida early.
The flight - or plight - of Dale Earnhardt Jr.: The first Gatorade Duel will provide a good indication of how Dale Earnhardt Jr. will perform in the Daytona 500. A strong showing today from the rear of the field - where he will also start Sunday - will go a long way towards rebuilding the confidence amongst his fans that was shattered with yesterday's crash. A poor showing, however, will further dim the spirits of Junior Nation.
Who's gonna win? Sometimes lost in the drama surrounding the drivers trying to qualify for the Daytona 500 is the fact that the Duels are qualifying races. A trophy and bragging rights on the line at the end of both events. An added benefit for the winner of the first Duel: though he will officially be credited with the third starting spot in the Daytona 500, he will inherit the pole position when Dale Earnhardt Jr. drops to the rear of the field during the pace laps.