You might as well ignore the entire Daytona 500 qualifying process. Between last Sunday's front row qualifying process and the two elimination "duel races" Thursday, we'll see a lot of racing and a lot of fanfare. NASCAR wants to make qualifying a show all by itself, and higher ratings for those telecasts are proving them right.
The so-called experts will try to read between the lines and use those qualifying results to come up with smart predictions for this Sunday's Daytona 500. There's only one problem: The predictions are probably closer to random guessing.
That's because Daytona 500 qualifying has no bearing on what will happen on race day. Because of the way the rules are designed, with NASCAR mandating restrictor plates in the car to reduce horsepower for safety reasons, the race outcome ends up being haphazard and erratic.
According to data provided to CNBC by PitRho, a racing analytics and software firm, we can see exactly how little value qualifying matters to the race outcome. For example, the average duel result of a driver who finished in the top 10 of the Daytona 500 (10.6) was basically the same as the average duel result of the drivers who finished at the bottom (11.5).