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)

Haas F1 tussling in middle of pack in 2nd season

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) For a second-year Formula One team, Haas F1 should be all smiles.

The only U.S.-based team on the grid has faster cars and has already scored more points this year behind veteran drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen than it did in all of 2016.

Yet it’s that sort of success that can both please and frustrate team principal Guenther Steiner and test the patience of industrialist owner Gene Haas: Despite the better results, Haas hasn’t moved any closer to the front of the team standings as it scraps around the middle of the pack while Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull grab all the glory.

“There are so many people fighting for the crumbs,” Steiner said ahead of the U.S. Grand Prix. “I didn’t expect the competition in the midfield to be so brutal this year.”

Still, it’s better to be in the middle of the scrap than left behind.

“It’s been an up-and-down season,” Magnussen said. “When we’re quick, we’re very quick, but our lows have been perhaps a bit too low.”

For Haas F1, this race weekend is a homecoming of sorts. While the team is based in North Carolina, the Texas race is the only one on the calendar in the U.S., making Haas F1 the home “favorite” with American fans even if it really has no chance of winning.

“It would be nice to put a whole weekend together, have good practices, good weather, not wreck your car… kind of like we did in Japan,” Haas said.

The Japanese Grand Prix two weeks ago delivered Haas F1’s best overall performance this year. It was the first time this season both cars finished in the top 10 and put them at seventh in the team standings with 42 points, one place and already 13 points better than their 2016 finish.

While Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton are closing in on another team and drivers’ championship, only 24 points separate the team standings from fifth through eighth place. The most exciting battles and daring drives over the final four races could come from the middle of the pack as teams scuffle for points and the season-ending money that comes with them.

“We’re in that tight pack that ebbs and flows from race to race,” Gene Haas said. “It’s a constant dance around each other for position.”

Haas is still getting used to a Formula One reality that only a few teams have a realistic chance of winning each week and others just dream for a shot at a podium finish. He came to Formula One from NASCAR – where he is still a partner in Stewart-Haas Racing – and a track environment where “at any race, every team has a chance to win.”

Haas F1 impressed the rest of the teams just by not finishing on the bottom in its first season in 2016. That only raised expectations the team could fight its way to the front of the second tier this year. This season began with a thud when both Haas cars failed to finish the first race in Australia. That hasn’t happened since and the team has scored in three of the last five races.

Gene Haas figures reliability problems – a failed suspension system recently knocked Magnussen out of a top-10 finish – have cost his team dearly.

“Right now I feel like our drivers are better than our cars,” he said.

Haas got into F1 with an admitted goal of boosting his commercial enterprises as a high-tech tool manufacturer and he says that’s paying off away from the track. The trick is staying long-term in a very expensive sport that sees heavyweight manufacturers like Ferrari and Mercedes sometimes double or triple the budgets of other teams.

Formula One has not been kind to small teams that join the grid only to go bust within a few years. Haas is the first American-owned team in the series in 30 years. Three other teams that tried to start from scratch since 2010 – Caterham, HRT and Manor – all collapsed and went out of business. Haas said he as a five-year plan in F1 to see if he can stay longer.

“If you do the five-year plan and you look at (those) teams from the past, their five-year plan was they went out of business. You want to avoid that one,” Haas said.

Grosjean, who signed with Haas from Lotus, said he expects the team to be on the grid for the long haul.

“He’s the best team owner I’ve ever had,” Grosjean said. “He’s passionate about racing and really loves it to a high extent. We know the gap is big right now, but that’s where the patience is.”