NASCAR: The drivers who could miss the 2021 Daytona 500

Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

With well over 40 drivers on the entry list, several of them will fail to qualify for the 63rd annual Daytona 500 to open up the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.

The start of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season is under one week away, as the 63rd annual Daytona 500 is scheduled to kick things off at Daytona International Speedway this Sunday, February 14.

There are 44 cars on the entry list for this 200-lap race around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) high-banked oval in Daytona Beach, Florida.

With only 40 available spots in the race, four drivers are going to end up being disappointing once the lineup is set this coming Thursday evening.

But not everybody needs to qualify for the race simply to secure a starting spot, thanks to NASCAR’s charter system.

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In fact, there are only four lineup spots still up for grabs, since 36 of the 44 cars, which account for many of the cars driven by the household names, on the entry list are chartered entries. This means that there are effectively slated to be eight drivers battling for the final four spots.

There is one important details we need to remember: those drivers can still qualify anywhere in the field. Any one of them could technically still take the pole position for the race; it’s not like the four qualifiers from that group MUST qualify from 37th through 40th. They simply aren’t locked into the field like the 36 drivers of the chartered entries are.

So who are the drivers who aren’t locked into the 40-car field?

Here is a list of the eight drivers who are slated to battle for the remaining four open seats in the starting lineup for the 63rd annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

NOTE: Teams listed in alphabetical order.

Beard Motorsports

  • #62 Chevrolet – Noah Gragson

Front Row Motorsports

  • #36 Ford – David Ragan

Gaunt Brothers Racing

  • #96 Toyota – Ty Dillon

JTG Daugherty Racing

  • #37 Chevrolet – Ryan Preece

Kaulig Racing

  • #16 Chevrolet – Kaz Grala

MBM Motorsports

  • #13 Ford – Garrett Smithley
  • #66 Ford – TBD (likely Timmy Hill)

Team Penske

  • #33 Ford – Austin Cindric

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Which of these four drivers will qualify for the race, and who will miss out? Two drivers will lock themselves into the race via single-car qualifying, which is scheduled to take place this evening (Fox Sports 1, 7:00 p.m. ET). The Bluegreen Vacations Duels are scheduled to take place tomorrow evening (Fox Sports 1, 7:00 p.m. ET) to set the full starting lineup. The race itself is set to be broadcast live on Fox beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 14.