The NASCAR Budweiser Duels start on Thursday to set the Daytona 500 after Jeff Gordon won the pole ahead of Jimmie Johnson for the Great American Race in Florida and things will be on TV from Fox Sports 1 and streaming from FS1 online from the Foxt Spors Go website as the field gets set for the first major race of the season.
Gordon had the best time during a wild qualifying session earlier in the week and now the Duel races will set the rest of the field. The pressure is on the field to get into the race and drivers like Johnson and Carl Edwards already have spots, while David Ragan needs to qualify to get in. Gordon will be on the pole for the first Duel on the schedule and that comes with Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick all solid from that set.
Johnson leads Duel 2 and that has drivers like Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Sam Hornish Jr., Michael Waltrip, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Greg Biffle in solid position. Gordon won the pole for the Daytona 500 and it comes as he is getting ready to start his final season and he ended up on top after the wild knockout sessions. The qualifying was controversial for some drivers after an accident marred one of the runs and Gordon now comes in at the top spot alongside Johnson.
The knockout format had some drivers angry at the way it turned out, with Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick both coming out to criticize the qualifying. Gordon is at the pole position, but he is by no means the favorite, as no one has won the Great American Race from the pole position since 2000. Only one driver has even finished in the top five during that run of time and the fact that it's the last run for Gordon at Dayton makes it even tougher for him.
Gordon was very fast in qualifying and ended up past 200 mph, making him the first since 1987 to pass that mark, according to ESPN.com, Many drivers felt that the knockout was tough to deal with and said they felt the single car format was better for Daytona. Danica Patrick dealt with a crash in qualifying and that happened early in practice on Wednesday and now she will be the backup car.
Patrick previously was on the pole back in 2013 and now she will have to deal with just getting into the field. Johnson comes in after another strong year and he will start alongside Gordon in the front of the field. The Duels are always interesting and this year things get started past 7 pm ET on Fox Sports 1 at Daytona International Speedway.