NASCAR: Four drivers will miss the 2021 Daytona 500

Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images) /

Four drivers failed to qualify for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 as a result of single-car qualifying and the Bluegreen Vacations Duels.

There were 44 cars on the entry list for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, and there are only 40 spots available in the starting lineup.

As a result, four drivers were always going to be going home disappointed after Wednesday night’s single-car qualifying session and Thursday night’s/early Friday morning’s Bluegreen Vacations Duels. Those four drivers now know who they are.

Of course, 36 spots were already locked in as a result of the charter system, effectively making it a battle for the final four spots among eight drivers.

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Those eight drivers were JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ryan Preece, Team Penske’s Austin Cindric, Front Row Motorsports’ David Ragan, Kaulig Racing’s Kaz Grala, Gaunt Brothers Racing’s Ty Dillon, Beard Motorsports’ Noah Gragson and MBM Motorsports teammates Timmy Hill and Garrett Smithley.

Two drivers successfully qualified for the race on speed, but they ultimately raced their way in during the Duels as well, meaning that the next two fastest drivers in single-car qualifying officially locked themselves into the field on speed as opposed to the two drivers who were actually fastest.

The two fastest drivers were Preece and Ragan.

But because they beat the other three non-chartered cars in their respective Duels, they technically raced their way in, meaning that Cindric and Grala qualified on speed.

Preece finished in fifth place in the first Duel ahead of Dillon in sixth, Cindric in 16th and Hill in 19th, while Ragan finished in eighth in the second Duel ahead of Grala in 14th, Smithley in 16th and Gragson in 18th.

Cindric got in over Dillon because of qualifying speed, since Dillon did not beat Preece and therefore Preece raced his way in, despite having a qualifying speed he could have fallen back on.

Here’s an easy-to-understand chart:

  • Duel 1 top finisher: Ryan Preece
  • Duel 2 top finisher: David Ragan
  • Fastest remaining qualifier: Austin Cindric
  • Second fastest remaining qualifier: Kaz Grala

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So Dillon, Hill, Smithley and Gragson will not compete in this year’s Daytona 500, which is set to be broadcast live on Fox from Daytona International Speedway beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET this Sunday, February 14.