2022 NASCAR Cup Series: Two Drivers Fail to Qualify for Daytona 500

by Chase Thomas

Look out, NASCAR fans, the Daytona 500 will be here before you know it. Indeed, the race will be held at 2:30 PM EST on Sunday afternoon. Kyle Larson won the pole on Wednesday evening and will be leading the pack on Sunday. However, two drivers failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 this weekend.

Noah Gragson and Jacques Villeneuve both did not make the final 40. Because only 40 of the 42 qualified, the final six entries had to battle it out for those final four spots and two had to be left out. Based on the week, Gragson and Villeneuve were left out.

Michael McDowell Wins 2021 Daytona 500

2021 was a big year for Kyle Larson who will lead the charge on Sunday out of the gate. However, it was McDowell who stole the show in Daytona in 2021. It was a huge upset, after a wreck in last lap, that led to McDowell securing the upset bid.

He told CBS Sports, “In the beginning I just wanted to be in the Cup Series and wanted to make the races, wanted to prove that I could be there.” He continued, “And as the years went on and it wasn’t really developing into any opportunities – It was just more opportunities to start-and-park, it felt like – I was just trying to figure out ‘What am I doing? Why am I doing it?’

Early on in NASCAR, McDowell just wanted to race. He just wanted an opportunity to prove himself on the track. He was not thinking about the big moments like potentially winning the Daytona 500. No, he just wanted to be a part of the process and see where that went.

McDowell’s Drive

He continued on NASCAR, “There were a couple of reasons why I was doing it. One is that I never made it big and never made millions of dollars, so this is what I do to provide for my family. That’s one element of it. And then the second element of it was holding onto the hope that one day I would get an opportunity to race again. Not just start-and-park, but to race again and to do it at a higher level than what I was doing it at. So it was a process, it was a journey.”

He wanted to race again in NASCAR. It was not an easy process for McDowell to get to where he is now. He had to work hard for a long time to get there. McDowell concluded, “And I just watched the guys that consistently ran up front, consistently challenge for wins. Everyone talks about Daytona as like ‘Oh, anybody can win it, it’s a crapshoot, luck, you’ve just got to survive.”

You can watch the Dayton 500 on FOX on Sunday.