By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
The 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup season will roar to life with a Sunday doubleheader on February 10 at Daytona to signal the start of Speedweeks. Once again this year, Cup Series qualifying and the Advance Auto Parts Clash exhibition race will kick off a week of action leading up to the 61st annual Daytona 500 the following Sunday.
On Thursday, the sanctioning body released the eligibility requirements and drivers that have met those requirements for the two-segment, 75-lap event.
This year’s eligible drivers will conform to four different categories to make up the possible 20-car field: 2018 Busch Pole Award winners, Former Daytona 500 champions, Former Daytona 500 pole winners, and drivers that competed in the 2018 Playoffs.
For any driver to meet the above criteria, they had to compete full time last season.
“There’s no better way to start the season,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “The close, door-to-door action you see in the Advance Auto Parts Clash is a precursor to the intense competition you’ll see in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series throughout 2019.”
There are 13 eligible drivers that won poles last year, including: Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Daniel Suarez and Martin Truex Jr.
Former Daytona 500 champions Jamie McMurray and Ryan Newman, former Daytona 500 pole winners Austin Dillon and Jimmie Johnson, and 2018 Playoff drivers Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, and Brad Keselowski, will join them.
“It’s a tremendous day of racing for our fans,” said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile. “Having DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger followed by the Advance Auto Parts Clash makes for a sweet first Sunday of Speedweeks and will have fans fully tuned up for the 61st running of the ‘Great American Race’ on February 17.”