NASCAR: Chandler Smith could miss the Daytona 500

Chandler Smith, Kaulig Racing, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Chandler Smith, Kaulig Racing, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Kaulig Racing have entered a third car for Chandler Smith for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500, but he isn’t locked into the race.

After spending the last two seasons competing full-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Truck Series, Chandler Smith switched from Toyota to Chevrolet and joined Kaulig Racing’s Xfinity Series team.

In addition to running the full Xfinity Series schedule in 2023, he is also set to compete in four Cup Series races. Smith is set to drive the No. 13 Chevrolet in these races, beginning with the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, February 19.

But because there are more than 40 cars on the entry list for this 200-lap race around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) high-banked Daytona Beach, Florida oval, Smith isn’t guaranteed a spot in the race.

The 36 chartered NASCAR Cup Series cars are all locked into the Daytona 500, leaving just four spots for non-chartered entries.

There are six non-chartered entries on the entry list.

In addition to Smith’s No. 13 Chevrolet, those non-chartered entries include Zane Smith’s No. 36 Front Row Motorsports Ford, Conor Daly’s No. 50 The Money Team Racing Chevrolet, Austin Hill’s No. 62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet, Travis Pastrana’s No. 67 23XI Racing Toyota, and Jimmie Johnson’s No. 84 Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet.

Two of these six drivers are set to lock in via their speed in the single-car qualifying session, which is set to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 on Wednesday, February 15 beginning at 8:15 p.m. ET.

Two more are set to lock in via their result in the Bluegreen Vacations Duels, which are set to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 on Thursday, February 16 beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. The highest finisher in each Duel, among the non-chartered entries, clinches a spot.

If a driver essentially locks in via both the single-car qualifying session and the Bluegreen Vacations Duels, then his spot from the single-car qualifying session goes to the next fastest driver from that session, among the non-chartered entries.

So multiple drivers on the race’s entry list will fail to qualify, and Smith, who has never competed in a Cup Series race, could end up being one of those drivers.

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Fox is set to broadcast the 65th annual Daytona 500 live from Daytona International Speedway beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 19. If you haven’t already done so, start a free trial of FuboTV today!