The Michael Waltrip Racing teams and drivers return to Daytona International Speedway Wednesday to resume practice in preparation for Sunday’s 56th annual Daytona 500.

Thursday marks the first time the two 150-mile Duel races, races that determine the starting order for the Daytona 500, will be held at night.

Friday and Saturday include normal practice sessions before Sunday’s “Great American Race.”

All MWR drivers said they expect a repeat of the exciting racing in Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited that saw only eight of 18 cars finish.

CLINT BOWYER: No. 15 5-hour ENERGY TOYOTA: “I promise you the Duels are going to be exciting. I mean you're racing to get into the Daytona 500. Winning any race at Daytona is huge. And it'd sure be nice to see that ol' No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota in victory lane to start the season.”

BRIAN VICKERS: No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota: “I’m really looking forward to getting out there especially after watching Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited. It looked really exciting. From what I saw you’re going to have to be a lot more careful about when and how you bump people. It seemed like you could really get people out of shape. And, then the closing rate is pretty quick. I saw a lot of flow throughout the field -- guys going front back front back. It was a lot easier to go backwards than it was forwards, which is somewhat always the case. I think you’re going to see a lot of that in the 150’s and the 500. I love the night racing. Race cars always look faster at night and I think our Aaron’s Dream Machine will be fast.”

MICHAEL WALTRIP: No. 66 Blue-Def/AAA Toyota: “We’re just looking forward to getting out there and mixing it up. As a fan and a driver and a TV guy I loved what I saw in the Sprint Unlimited. Everybody had a lot of ability to move around, make some passes and mix it up. We’ll practice some of that on Thursday and know that’s what it’s going to take to win the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Our car obviously isn’t the fastest one here and when you don’t have the fastest car you’ve got to really lean on the air to really figure out how to make up some ground and that’s what we’ll try to do on Thursday.”

DUEL 1 LINEUP:

  1. Austin Dillon
  2. Greg Biffle
  3. Ryan Newman
  4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  5. Ricky Stenhouse
  6. Marcos Ambrose
  7. Aric Almirola
  8. Joey Logano
  9. Matt Kenseth
  10. Kasey Kahne
  11. Kyle Busch
  12. Kevin Harvick
  13. Danica Patrick
  14. AJ Allmendinger
  15. Reed Sorenson
  16. David Gilliland
  17. Parker Kligerman
  18. Tony Stewart
  19. Brian Vickers
  20. Cole Whitt
  21. Michael McDowell
  22. Josh Wise
  23. Joe Nemechek
  24. Alex Bowman
  25. Dave Blaney

DUEL 2 LINEUP:

  1. Martin Truex Jr.
  2. Carl Edwards
  3. Brad Keselowski
  4. Jeff Gordon
  5. Paul Menard
  6. Brian Scott
  7. Jimmie Johnson
  8. Casey Mears
  9. Michael Annett
  10. Clint Bowyer
  11. Denny Hamlin
  12. Kyle Larson
  13. Trevor Bayne
  14. Kurt Busch
  15. Justin Allgaier
  16. Landon Cassill
  17. Michael Waltrip
  18. Eric McClure
  19. Jamie McMurray
  20. David Ragan
  21. Terry Labonte
  22. Bobby Labonte
  23. Ryan Truex
  24. Morgan Shepherd

HOW THE FIELD QUALIFIES FOR THE DAYTONA 500:

  • Austin Dillon & Martin Truex Jr. will start the Daytona 500 first and second because they were the fastest in single-lap qualifying on Sunday.
  • The highest 15 finishers in each Duel race Thursday – excluding Dillon and Truex - will earn a spot in the Daytona 500, and fill positions 3-32.
  • Based on their finishing position in the first Duel race, the top 15 will line up on the inside row (odd-number starting positions).
  • Based on their finishing position in the second Duel race, the top 15 will line up on the outside row (even-number starting positions).
  • Positions 33-36 will go to the four fastest cars from Sunday’s qualifying that have not already earned a spot.
  • Position 37-42 will be provisional positions, and go to the highest six cars in 2013 owner points that have not already qualified via the Duel or qualifying.
  • The 43rd starting position will be assigned to any car owner who has the most recent eligible past NASCAR Sprint Cup champion who did not make the field by any other method, providing the driver had competed in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
  • If the 43rd position remains unused it will be assigned to the next highest car in 2013 owner points not already locked into the field

TELEVISION SCHEDULE:

Wednesday — Feb. 19

Practice, 4 p.m., FS1
Practice, 6:30 p.m., FS1

Thursday — Feb. 20

Duels, 7 p.m., FS1

Friday — Feb. 21

Practice, 11:30 a.m., FS1
Practice, 2:30 p.m., FS1

Saturday — Feb. 22

Practice, 10:00 a.m., FS1

Sunday — Feb. 23

Race, 1 p.m., Fox

CELEBRITIES:

  • The reigning Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan will perform during the DAYTONA 500 Budweiser Pre-Race Show, the prelude to the start of the “The Great American Race”
  • Actor Chris Evans, Star of Marvel’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” is the Grand Marshal.
  • Singer, songwriter Aloe Blacc will perform the National Anthem.
  • Gary Sinise, actor, humanitarian and founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation, will wave the green flag as the Honorary Starter.
  • Paralympic athlete Blake Leeper, known as the “American Blade Runner,” will serve as Honorary Race Official.

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