NASCAR driver at risk of missing the Daytona 500?

Daytona 500, Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR Cup Series (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Daytona 500, Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR Cup Series (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

The Daytona 500 entry list now sits at 38 cars. With three more, somebody will miss the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season opener.

RFK Racing confirmed the addition of a third car for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, adding the No. 60 Ford for veteran David Ragan to join the team alongside full-time drivers Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher.

Ragan had competed in the Cup Series for 17 straight years — and in the Daytona 500 for 16 straight — prior to last year, when he was unable to land a ride after running four superspeedway races, including the Daytona 500, for Rick Ware Racing in 2022.

Because the No. 60 Ford is not a chartered entry, it is not locked into the 200-lap “Great American Race” around the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) high-banked Daytona Beach, Florida oval like the 36 chartered entries, including Keselowski’s No. 6 Ford and Buescher’s No. 17 Ford, are.

Will one or more NASCAR Cup Series drivers miss the Daytona 500?

There are now five non-chartered entries that have been announced for the 2024 season in some capacity, though the No. 60 Ford is only the second one confirmed for the Daytona 500, bringing the entry total to 38.

The other one is the No. 78 Chevrolet at Live Fast Motorsports. This entry had been a chartered entry before the team sold their charter to Spire Motorsports, which went from a two-car team to a three-car team. Team co-owner B.J. McLeod is set to drive the car at Daytona.

However, there are likely to be at least three more non-chartered cars added to the Daytona 500 entry list from now until mid-February, and Cup Series field sizes are capped at 40.

If the entry list ends up with at least 41 cars (at least five non-chartered entries), then somebody will ultimately not qualify for the race, as we see every year.

Two non-chartered entries lock themselves into the event by being the quickest in the single-car qualifying session, and the other two lock themselves in by finishing ahead of the other non-chartered entries in their respective Bluegreen Vacations Duel races.

If an entry effectively qualifies both ways, the next fastest non-chartered entry gets a spot on speed, irrespective of which Duel they competed in.

As for the 36 chartered entries, just three remain without confirmed drivers for the 2024 season. Two are expected to be driven full-time by a single driver, while one is set to be shared. The other 33 are all set to be driven full-time by a single driver.

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Single-car qualifying for the 2024 Daytona 500 is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, February 14, and the Bluegreen Vacations Duels are scheduled to take place on Thursday, February 15. The race itself is scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 18, with live coverage set to be provided by Fox beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV today!