Daytona Beach,FL (Sports Network) - The Budweiser Duel at Daytona
International Speedway -- the twin 150-mile qualifying races -- will determine
the starting lineup beyond the front row for the Feb. 24 Daytona 500.
In last Sunday's time trials for the Daytona 500, Danica Patrick won the pole
position, becoming the first female to win a pole for a race in NASCAR's
premier series (Sprint Cup). Jeff Gordon will share the front row with Patrick
after finishing second in time trials. They are the only drivers who secured
their starting positions for the 500-mile race.
The starting spots for each of the two qualifying races was determined in time
trials. Drivers who finished in the odd-numbered positions were assigned to
the first race, while drivers who finished in the even-numbered positions were
placed in the final event. Patrick will start first in the 23-car field for
the first Duel, while Gordon will lead a field of 22 cars in the second Duel.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. blew an engine during Wednesday's practice and will have to
start from the rear of the field in race one. Earnhardt Jr. had earned the
sixth starting position for that qualifier following his 11th-place finish in
The top-15 finishers in each Duel race -- not including Patrick or Gordon --
will fill positions 3-32 in the starting lineup for the Daytona 500. The
top-15 finishers in the first race will make up the inside row (odd-number
starting positions), while those who finish 1-15 in the second event will line
up on the second row (even-number starting spots).
Starting positions 33-36 will go to those drivers who did not finish in the
top-15 in their respective qualifying races but were among the top speeds
during time trials. Spots 37-42 will go to the top-six cars in the 2012 Sprint
Cup owner point standings that are not already locked in. The 43rd and final
position is reserved for the most recent past series champion. If there is no
eligible past champion, that spot will revert back to last year's owner
In addition to Patrick and Gordon, 11 other drivers are guaranteed a starting
spot in the Daytona 500, no matter where they finish in the Budweiser Duel.
Trevor Bayne, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne are locked in based on
their speed/time in time trials. Bayne posted the third fastest qualifying
lap, followed by Newman, Stewart and Kahne.
Brad Keselowski, the reigning series champion, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson,
Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. have a spot reserved in the
500 by virtue of last year's owner points. Stenhouse, a rookie in Cup this
season, is in the seat of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, previously held
by Matt Kenseth.
Kurt Busch, driving the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet this year, is
locked in since he is the most recent past champion (2004).
Mike Bliss and Brian Keselowski, who is Brad Keselowski's elder brother,
finished 44th and 45th, respectively, in time trials. The only way these two
drivers can make the Daytona 500 is to race their way in during the Duel.
Keselowski is competing in the first race, and Bliss is in the second event.
Last year, Stewart won the first qualifying race -- known then as the Gatorade
Duel -- while Kenseth took the checkered flag in the second event. Kenseth
also won the Daytona 500, which was delayed one day for the first time in its
history due to rain.
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Thursday, Feb. 21. Race: Budweiser Duel
(Daytona 500 twin qualifiers). Site: Daytona International Speedway. Track:
2.5-mile tri-oval. Start time: 2 p.m. ET. Laps: 60 (each qualifier). Miles:
150. 2012 Winners: Tony Stewart (race 1), Matt Kenseth (race 2). Television:
Speed. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.
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