The 61st Daytona 500 will take place this Sunday, February 17. The 500 mile race is a huge day for NASCAR drivers and fans. Three of those drivers are also huge American Ninja Warrior fans. Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ryan Blaney, and Ty Dillion have all tried out the obstacles, and are all looking to secure a good starting position at the Daytona 500 in the upcoming qualifying races .
For those unfamiliar with the qualifying format (like us), here’s a run down of what they’ll be up to on Thursday night.
“...qualifying at Daytona International Speedway consists of two rounds of cars being sent out, one at a time, to make a single timed lap. Vehicles drawing an odd number will be in the first group with even numbers in the second group. The first round is five minutes, and the 24 fastest cars advance to the second round. Following a 10-minute break, the second round will be five minutes with the fastest 12 cars advancing to the third and final round. A seven-minute break will precede the third round to run for the pole position, which will last five minutes. This final round of single-car qualifying determines the front row for the DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, February 21. The next four fastest drivers – based on speeds counted from any of the three qualifying rounds – will also locked themselves into the DAYTONA 500 field, with specific starting positions to be determined after Thursday night’s Can-Am Duel.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Ricky will race in the first qualifying duel. He also has the most American Ninja Warrior experience, having run the course twice. In season nine, he took part in the Cleveland Qualifiers where he made it to the fourth obstacle, the Ring Jump. This also means he’s gone farther on the course than any other NASCAR driver.
The second qualifying duel will feature two Ninja Warrior-wannabes in their natural habitat.
Like Ricky, Ryan tried his hand at the season nine Cleveland Qualifying course. He made it to the third obstacle, Razor’s Edge.
Ty didn’t actually compete, but he came out to the Indianapolis course in season 10 and gave it his all in a test run.
Drivers aside, American Ninja Warrior has a pretty cool connection to the Daytona 500 in general. During season nine, the show took over the race track’s parking lot for the Daytona Qualifiers and City Finals. That’s where we were introduced to the Wingnuts and the Giant Cubes.
Behind the scenes, the cast and crew got a very cool tour of this iconic sports location.
On the course, Daytona was were Jessie Graff was within feet of completing a City Finals course.
Over the years, both NASCAR and IndyCar drivers have routinely tried their hand at American Ninja Warrior. We’ve got to have a soft sport for a sport that loves Ninja so much. So we’re hoping Ricky, Ryan, and Ty have a great (safe) race and we’ll be cheering for them!