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All The Make or Break Scenarios for Daytona Open Entries

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

The day of the Duels has finally arrived, and the field will be set for the 2024 Daytona 500. Four open entries will fight for the final 2 open slots in the field, but, the other open entries have something to race for as well. Today, we break down the scenarios for each driver individually, alongside a broader look at all of the different possible outcomes for tonight’s Duel races.

Read Also:

  • While the front row was decided on Qualifying Day, the Duels set positions 3-40 for the Daytona 500. Duel 1 sets the inside row while Duel 2 determines the outside lane.
  • The Open Entries form a sort of “race within the race”. While the chartered entries are being careful trying to keep their cars clean for the big race on Sunday, the Open entries are fighting to simply race on Sunday, but, two will be packing up after tonight.
  • Fans often watch the Duels more for the open entries than the race at the front. The stories of the Open cars often create fun storylines for fans to watch out for.

Those Already Qualified: Anthony Alfredo and David Ragan

As the fastest Open cars in Daytona 500 qualifying, Anthony Alfredo and David Ragan will race on Sunday regardless of the results on Thursday night. However, their results do affect both their starting position and who qualifies for the race. We will get to the second part in a minute.

As far as starting position, only the fastest open cars in each Duel get their starting spot decided by Duel position, while those that get in on speed are sent to the back of the starting grid. For example, if an Open car finishes 5th in Duel 1 and the second Open car finishes 7th but gets in on speed, Open car 1 would start 9th, and Open car 2 would start 39th. Therefore, Regan and Alfredo are both fighting for a good starting spot similar to the chartered entries in the race.

3rd Fastest Entry: Jimmie Johnson

Thanks to being the 3rd fastest open entry, Jimmie Johnson has the most flexibility in terms of making the race. The easiest way to make the 500 is to be the fastest Open car, and he starts 18th in Duel 1, the 2nd Open car behind Anthony Alfredo (11th). However, Johnson still has a chance to get in on speed.

If either Anthony Alfredo or David Ragan are the highest finishing open cars in either Duel race, Johnson would get in because either Alfredo and/or Regan would NOT have to rely on their qualifying speeds to get a starting spot. Even if he does not race well in his Duel, Johnson has a solid chance to make it in if things break his way. However, racing his way in is the most straightforward way to get in without starting at the rear.

4th Fastest Entry: B.J. McLeod

B.J. McLeod is in a similar position to Jimmie Johnson, but, getting into the 500 is a slightly steeper hill. Just like all of the other Open entries, McLeod can make it into the Daytona 500 by being the highest-finishing Open car in his Duel, Duel 2. He starts 20th, which is second amongst Open cars behind David Ragan (13th).

McLeod can get in via his qualifying time if either Anthony Alfredo AND David Ragan OR Jimmie Johnson and David Ragan finish the highest amongst open entries in their respective Duel races. McLeod has a small advantage by racing in Duel 2. If Alfredo is the highest-finishing Open car in Duel 1, McLeod has a chance to get in on speed, if Johnson or J.J. Yeley are the highest finishers, then McLeod must race his way in.

5th and 6th Fastest Entries: J.J. Yeley and Kaz Grala

Both J.J. Yeley and Kaz Grala have only one way to make the Daytona 500, race their way in. There is no chance that either driver can get in based on their qualifying speed, so, they must each be the highest-finishing Open car in their Duel.

That will be a tall order as both drivers will start LAST (21st) in their Duel Races. Grala does have Front Row Motorsports equipment, however, and teammate Michael McDowell both won the Pole and is in Grala’s Duel race. McDowell could help Grala get into the main event should things shake out. Yeley has no teammates, and his woefully slow speed calls into question whether or not he can up with the pack.

Every Scenario Broken Down

Now that we have broken down what every driver needs to do, here is a breakdown of every possible finishing scenario from the Duel races, and which drivers will get in.

Highest Duel Finishers: Anthony Alfredo and David Ragan

  • Qualified Through the Duels: Anthony Alfredo and David Ragan
  • Qualified on Speed (Starting 39th and 40th): Jimmie Johnson and B.J. McLeod

Highest Duel Finishers: Anthony Alfredo and B.J. McLeod OR Kaz Grala

  • Qualified Through the Duels: Anthony Alfredo and B.J. McLeod OR Kaz Grala
  • Qualified on Speed: David Ragan and Jimmie Johnson

Highest Duel Finishers: Jimmie Johnson and David Ragan

  • Qualified Through the Duels: Jimmie Johnson and David Ragan
  • Qualified on Speed: Anthony Alfredo and B.J. McLeod

Highest Duel Finishers: J.J. Yeley and David Ragan

  • Qualified Through the Duels: J.J. Yeley and David Ragan
  • Qualified on Speed: Anthony Alfredo and Jimmie Johnson

Highest Duel Finishers: Jimmie Johnson OR J.J. Yeley and B.J. McLeod OR Kaz Grala

  • Qualified Through the DUels: Jimmie Johnson OR J.J. Yeley and B.J. McLeod OR Kaz Grala
  • Qualified on Speed: Anthony Alfredo and David Ragan

Scenarios Where Drivers Make It (9 Scenarios)

  • David Ragan and Anthony Alfredo: 9/9 (100%)
  • Jimmie Johnson: 5/9 (56%)
  • B.J. McLeod: 5/9 (56%)
  • J.J. Yeley: 2/9 (22%)
  • Kaz Grala: 2/9 (22%)

There are multiple different ways that this can play out. Which driver makes it, and which driver ends up going home early?

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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