Lightning delay forces cancellation of Cup qualifying at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - JULY 04: Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, drives through the garage during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 04, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

A lightning delay Friday at Daytona International Speedway forced cancellation of qualifying for Saturday’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) because it prevented timely completion of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series inspection before time trials.

Accordingly, with the field ordered according to owner points, Joey Logano will start from the pole position in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. Kyle Busch, who thought he would have qualified mid-pack if time trials had been held, will start next to Logano on the front row in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Saturday’s race will mark the last at the 2.5-mile superspeedway on its traditional July 4 weekend—at least for the time being. The second Daytona race will move to Aug. 29 next year as the cutoff race for the series Playoffs.

That’s a change Logano endorses.

“I think making this the cutoff race before the Playoffs is a good move,” Logano said. “I think that keeps it exciting, adds a lot of drama to where you’re never out of this thing. Sometimes, if you weren’t really in contention for that bubble spot by points by the time you got to the final race of the cutoffs, you kind of thought, ‘I’m kind of out of it. I might not win at that type of race track.’

“But here, anybody can win, and so I think by NASCAR moving this race to that moment is going to be something that adds more drama and more possibilities of things that can happen, so, cool.  I think that’s kind of what the schedule does in general, a lot of the moves they did over the off season they announced at least is going to really just add more stuff for you guys (the media) to talk about and more for us to worry about. That’s kind of what it does.”

When Logano takes the checkered flag on Saturday night, most drivers in the field will be looking to become the eighth different Cup winner this season, thereby assuring a spot in the Playoffs.

Behind Logano and Busch in the third and fourth spots, respectively, will be a driver who has won three times (Brad Keselowski) and one who, surprisingly, has failed to find Victory lane this season (Kevin Harvick). Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott, Kurt Busch Alex Bowman and Ryan Blaney complete the top 10 positions on the grid.

Of the top 10 starters, only Harvick, Kurt Busch and Blaney haven’t won yet this season. The cancellation improved Kyle Busch’s starting position over his own expectations, and he’s happy to take the second spot.

“Overall, being able to start up front is certainly better than where we would have started,” Busch said. “I think we would have been back in the teens. Having the second starting spot is better for us.”

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying Coke Zero Sugar 400

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

Friday, July 5, 2019

1. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 1st.

2. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, Charter Team Owner Points 2nd.

3. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 3rd.

4. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 4th.

5. (19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, Charter Team Owner Points 5th.

6. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, Charter Team Owner Points 6th.

7. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 7th.

8. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 8th.

9. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 9th.

10. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 10th.

11. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 11th.

12. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 12th.

13. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 13th.

14. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 14th.

15. (41) Daniel Suarez, Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 15th.

16. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 16th.

17. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, Charter Team Owner Points 17th.

18. (6) Ryan Newman, Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 18th.

19. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 19th.

20. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 20th.

21. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 21st.

22. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 22nd.

23. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 23rd.

24. (8) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 24th.

25. (95) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, Charter Team Owner Points 25th.

26. (47) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 26th.

27. (38) David Ragan, Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 27th.

28. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 28th.

29. (43) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 29th.

30. (32) Corey LaJoie, Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 30th.

31. (36) Matt Tifft #, Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 31st.

32. (15) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 32nd.

33. (00) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 33rd.

34. (77) Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, Charter Team Owner Points 34th.

35. (51) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 35th.

36. (96) Parker Kligerman(i), Toyota, Open Team Owner Points 36th.

37. (52) JJ Yeley, Ford, Charter Team Owner Points 37th.

38. (27) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, Open Team Owner Points 38th.

39. (62) Brendan Gaughan(i), Chevrolet, Open Team Owner Points 39th.

40. (53) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, Open Team Owner Points 43rd.

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