NASCAR: Jimmie Johnson could still miss the 2024 Daytona 500

Driving a non-charter entry, Jimmie Johnson must earn his starting spot for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500.

Jimmie Johnson, Legacy Motor Club, Daytona 500, NASCAR
Jimmie Johnson, Legacy Motor Club, Daytona 500, NASCAR / Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports

Two-time Daytona 500 winner and seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson is set to pilot the No. 84 Toyota for the Legacy Motor Club team he co-owns this week at Daytona International Speedway.

The No. 84 Toyota is one of six non-charter 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.

The others include the No. 36 Front Row Motorsports Ford for Kaz Grala, the No. 44 NY Racing Team Chevrolet for J.J. Yeley, the No. 60 RFK Racing Ford for David Ragan, the No. 62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet for Anthony Alfredo, and the No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Chevrolet for B.J. McLeod.

The 36 charter cars are locked into the race and the field size is capped at 40, meaning that there are six drivers going for four open spots.

Jimmie Johnson not locked into Daytona 500

Even as a seven-time champion with two Daytona 500 wins to his name, Johnson must earn his way into this year's field; there is no past champion's provisional when it comes to the "Great American Race".

But Johnson faced a similar situation last year and managed to qualify for the race. Doing so requires one of two things. A driver must finish either in the top two on speed in the single-car qualifying session (among the non-charter entries) or be the highest non-charter finisher in his respective Bluegreen Vacations Duel race.

Should a driver effectively qualify twice, then the resulting open spot goes to the next fastest driver from the single-car qualifying session. Drivers who ultimately qualify on speed start the race on the 20th and last row in 39th and 40th place, while the drivers who lock in via the Duels have their starting spots determined by their Duel results.

Last year, Johnson had to fall back on his qualifying speed and started in 39th place. He did not finish the race. In fact, he did not finish any of his three races last year, and his season was cut short due to a family tragedy over the summer. In 2024, he plans to compete in nine of the 36 races on the schedule.

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Single-car qualifying for the Daytona 500 is scheduled to take place at 8:15 p.m. ET this evening, and the Bluegreen Vacations Duels are scheduled to take place at 7:00 p.m. ET tomorrow evening. Fox Sports 1 is set to provide live coverage both tonight and tomorrow night. The 66th annual running of the race itself is scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 18, with live coverage set for Fox beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV and don't miss it!