Official Daytona 500 entry list released; qualifying format explained

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Last week, we ran a preliminary Daytona 500 entry list based on confirmations and projections of entries from all offseason announcements.

There’s only one change from the list we outlined, and it’s an addition. The 48 cars listed last week are all on the official entry list, joined by the No. 40 Hillman Racing Chevrolet driven by Landon Cassill for the entry list completion of 49 cars.

VIEW: Official Entry List

More importantly perhaps is a rundown of owner points shuffles/changes and how the cars will qualify for the Daytona 500. The Daytona 500 qualifying format, unlike the remaining 35 NASCAR Sprint Cup races this year, is unchanged.

  • The front row, positions 1-2, will be filled by single-car, two-lap time trials held on Sunday.
  • Positions 3-32 are filled by the top 15 finishers in each of the Budweiser Duel races held Thursday night. The 16th place car gets in if either driver on the Daytona 500 front row finishes in the top 15.
  • Positions 33-36 go to the four fastest qualifying speeds not already locked in via Duel results.
  • Positions 37-42 are provisionals based on 2013 owner points, not already locked in by any of the above ways.
  • Position 43 is a past champion’s provisional, descending in order from most recent past champ not already locked in.

And now, the owner points changes:

  • At Richard Childress Racing, the No. 3 (Austin Dillon) takes the No. 29 points from Kevin Harvick last year.
  • Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet will have the No. 39 points from Ryan Newman. As a new entry, Kurt Busch’s No. 41 will not have any 2013 owner points to use, but he will have a past champion’s provisional available if needed.
  • Michael Waltrip Racing shifts the No. 56 owner points from Martin Truex Jr. to Brian Vickers’ No. 55, while Waltrip’s own No. 66 will take the No. 55 points.
  • BK Racing’s No. 23 (Alex Bowman) will have the No. 93 2013 points; the No. 93 driven by Morgan Shepherd won’t have any as a new entrant fielded by MacDonald Motorsports, per Sporting News’ Bob Pockrass.
  • The Randy Humphrey-fielded No. 77, driven by Dave Blaney, will take the No. 19 2013 points.

There are 14 cars entered that are outside the top 35 in 2013 entrant points, and eight of these 14 will make the field. So although three drivers have a past champion’s provisional available, they’ll likely need to qualify either on speed or via their Budweiser Duel result. They are arranged by owner points and include:

  • 83-Ryan Truex, BK Racing (36th in 2013, 36 2013 attempts)
  • 32-Terry Labonte, Go Fas Racing (37th, 36, plus eighth in PCP order)
  • 33-Brian Scott, Richard Childress Racing (38th, 36)
  • 35-Eric McClure, Front Row Motorsports (39th, 36)
  • 87-Joe Nemechek, Jay Robinson (40th, 36)
  • 21-Trevor Bayne, Wood Brothers (41st, 12)
  • 98-Josh Wise, Phil Parsons Racing (42nd, 33)
  • 40-Landon Cassill, Hillman Racing (43rd, 16)
  • 95-Michael McDowell, Leavine Family Racing (44th, 22)
  • 77-Dave Blaney, Humphrey Racing (45th, 23)
  • 41-Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing (New entry, 0, plus fourth in PCP order)
  • 52-Bobby Labonte, HScott Motorsports (New entry, 0, plus seventh in PCP order)
  • 26-Cole Whitt, Swan Racing (New entry, 0)
  • 93-Morgan Shepherd, MacDonald Motorsports (New entry, 0)

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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