Green flag approaching for tonight’s Budweiser Duel 150s at Daytona

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The clock is ticking down for tonight’s Budweiser Twin 150 Duels at Daytona International Speedway.

The first Duel takes the green flag at 7 pm ET. The second Duel will follow shortly after the completion of the first race.

Each race is 60 laps and each contains a 24-car field.

This year’s Duels is noteworthy as it will mark the first time in the history of the twin exhibition races that they will be held under the lights at night, making three events during this year’s Speedweeks that have or will be in prime time. The others were last Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited, won by Denny Hamlin, and Friday’s Camping World Trucks Series season opener.

Five drivers will ultimately not make the 43-car field for Sunday’s 56th Daytona 500. Dave Blaney withdrew earlier Thursday and will not make this year’s 500.

Here’s the field breakdown and starting positions:

Budweiser Duel No. 1

1. Austin Dillon

2. Greg Biffle

3.  Ryan Newman

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

6. Marcos Ambrose

7. Aric Almirola

8. Joey Logano

9. Matt Kenseth

10. Kasey Kahne

11. Kyle Busch

12. Kevin Harvick

13. Danica Patrick

14. AJ Allmendinger

15. Reed Sorenson

16. David Gilliland

17. Parker Kligerman

18. Tony Stewart

19. Brian Vickers

20. Cole Whitt

21. Michael McDowell

22. Josh Wise

23. Joe Nemechek

24. Alex Bowman

Budweiser Duel No. 2

1. Martin Truex Jr.

2. Carl Edwards

3. Brad Keselowski

4. Jeff Gordon
5. Paul Menard

6. Brian Scott

7. Jimmie Johnson

8. Casey Mears

9. Michael Annett

10. Clint Bowyer

11. Denny Hamlin

12. Kyle Larson

13. Trevor Bayne

14. Kurt Busch

15. Justin Allgaier

16. Landon Cassill

17. Michael Waltrip

18. Eric McClure

19. Jamie McMurray

20. David Ragan

21. Terry Labonte

22. Bobby Labonte

23. Ryan Truex

24. Morgan Shepherd

An IndyCar iRacing Challenge at Talladega? Drivers have discussed it

David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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If Dale Earnhardt Jr. is interested in an IndyCar iRacing event on an oval, he might like the latest idea being kicked around by NTT Series drivers.

“I personally would want to run at Talladega, but I don’t think that’s an option,” Arrow McLaren SP driver rookie Oliver Askew told NBCSports.com in a Friday interview about his simulation work for the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge. “IndyCar drivers have a group chat with iRacing, and someone had the idea of running at Talladega, and I thought it was brilliant.”

It actually would be a throwback of sorts as a USAC-sanctioned race with Indy cars at Talladega nearly happened 40 years ago.

The IndyCar iRacing Challenge will be running its second consecutive road course Saturday at Barber Motorsports Park (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or streaming here).

Of the four remaining races in the six-race series, there’s a chance that three of them could be ovals: A Drivers’ Choice track April 11; a “Random Draw” April 18 and a non-IndyCar “Dream” track May 2 (the April 25 race will be at Circuit of the Americas).

ENTRY LIST: Who will be racing at Barber

SPOTTER GUIDE: All 29 of this weekend’s paint schemes

IndyCar drivers are voting on next week’s track, and the options include high-speed ovals such as Texas Motor Speedway and Michigan Speedway.

A multicar crash at Talladega last October. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Talladega apparently isn’t on the list for next week, but surely it could be considered for a future race if it meant having Earnhardt in the field. The 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is a six-time winner at Talladega, and the NASCAR on NBC analyst’s family is synonymous with the 2.66-mile oval where his late seven-time champion father won a record 10 times.

“I hope he can make that happen,” Askew said of racing against Earnhardt. “I hope IndyCar can grant his wish on that.”

The addition of Earnhardt would fit well with an IndyCar iRacing Challenge that already features champions from NASCAR (Jimmie Johnson) and Supercars (Scott McLaughlin).

Will Power would like to see more of that.

“I think that would be great if we can get big-name drivers from other series,” Power said. “Getting a couple guys from Europe would be cool.”