DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Winning the pole position for the Daytona 500 is a special time for a driver and his team. Unlike any other week, the pole sitter for the “Great American Race” holds that position for one week.
2017 is not different, but the Can-Am Duel at Daytona is now worth 10 championship points for the driver who wins the race.
In recent history, the Daytona 500 pole winner would race in the duels “conservatively” in an effort to keep that prestigious starting position and not damage the car.
This year drivers can come out of Daytona with up to 70 championship points to start off their season in effort to hoist the championship trophy at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
For crew chief, Alan Gufstason, his philosophy with this new format hasn’t changed:
“I’ve always had the philosophy to race hard during the Duels. I think it's the best way to go about it. I think you have to continue, like I said, to develop your car and research your setup and work on improving your car.”
Gufstason mentions that he has already begun strategizing how to maximize the opportunity presented:
“Now that it pays points, you're going to have to look at it a little bit differently and focus on trying to win it. That would be great, but if not, you want to come out of there with some points.”
The chance to save your car from potential damage in a crash diving out of the pack and running out is over because drivers and crew chiefs want to maximize those points.