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NASCAR returns to traditional format to set the Daytona 500 field
With the elimination of the top-35 rule in 2013, NASCAR will revert to its traditional format for setting the field for the Daytona 500.

NASCAR will return to traditional qualifying in 2013, with the fastest 36 drivers making the field and the remaining seven spots being filled based on owner points. For the past several years, the top 35 teams in owner points were guaranteed starting spots. That means a similar format will once again apply to the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s biggest race.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Director John Darby explained the Daytona 500 qualifying procedure Thursday following testing at Daytona International Speedway.

• The front row, positions 1-2, will go to the two fastest drivers from their qualifying runs on Feb. 17.

• Positions 3-32 will be set by the finishing order in Budweiser Duel qualifying races on Feb. 21. Drivers who finish in the top 15 in their respective races earn spots in the Daytona 500 and the 16th-place driver gets in as long as one of the top-15 drivers already occupies one of the two front row spots.

• Positions 33-36 will go to the drivers who didn’t make it through the qualifying races but posted the fastest four speeds in qualifying Feb. 17.

• Positions 37-42 will be awarded as provisionals based on 2012 owner points.

• Position 43 will be a past champion’s provisional, going to the most recent past champion not yet in the field. If there is no past champion, then the spot will be filled by the next driver eligible based on 2012 owner points.

For all races following the Daytona 500, the fastest 36 drivers in qualifying will make the race with six spots based on owner points and one spot reserved for a past champion (and if no past champion, another by owner points). For the next two races (at Phoenix and Las Vegas), 2012 owner points will be used.

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