Daytona 2013: Qualifying races to be held at night begining next season

USA TODAY Sports

The qualifying races for the Daytona 500 are moving to prime-time in 2014 and while it’s a break in tradition, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for NASCAR.

The Budweiser Duels qualifying races for the Daytona 500 will be moving to prime-time in 2014, track officials at Daytona International Speedway announced Thursday.

Although this marks a break in the long held tradition that has seen the twin pair of races held on the Thursday afternoon preceding the 500, this is a time shift that is much-needed.

While the Duels are aired live on Speed, the fact that the races were held in the afternoon of a workday presented a challenge to many fans. This was compounded by the lack of live streaming options available for those pinned at their desks or otherwise not available to be in front of a television.

The new start time also makes the Duels available to a larger TV audience, which should make NASCAR's Daytona 500 television partner, Fox/Fox Sports, happier. Another added benefit is that Daytona should see an increased in ticket sales.

It's really a win-win for all involved -- NASCAR, Daytona, the majority of fans, and Fox/Fox Sports.

However, there is one party that doesn't come out ahead in this deal and that is the drivers and teams, who no longer have a race in conditions similar to what they would face in the Daytona 500.

With both the Sprint Unlimited and Duels being held under the lights, the first time drivers will experience what the track feels like under the Daytona sun will come when the green flag waves to start "The Great American Race."

And while this isn't a substantial hurdle as drivers will still practice in the afternoon, it does throw a curveball at the garage as they prepare for NASCAR's most important and biggest event.

No matter, it's a wise move by NASCAR and one they probably should have made sooner to better accommodate its fan base - even if it means saying farewell to another tradition.

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