Daytona 500 Qualifying: The Gatorade Duels

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NASCAR Sprint Cup racing is back! Since the Daytona 500 is the Super Bowl of NASCAR qualifying to get in is done differently than the rest of the races. Qualifying was held last Saturday. Mark Martin in his #5 Hendrick Chevy is on the pole. And team mate, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in his #88  will start the Daytona 500 on the front row. But they are the only two positions that were determined in qualifying. The rest of the field will have to race into the Daytona 500. Qualifying determined the starting positions for the Gatorade Duels.

The first race is led by pole sitter, Martin. Followed by those that qualified in the odd positions. Team mate #48 Jimmy Johnson was involved in a crash in practice and will have to start from the rear. # 33 Clint Bowyer in his Childress Chevy is also in a back up car and starts from the rear. Kirk Schelmerdine’s #27 car is being driven today by Todd Bodine. He will start last. The top two finishers who aren’t already in the Daytona 500 will be locked into the race. The #87 of Joe Nemecheck and the #21 of Bill Elliott will be in on speed if they aren’t the top two finishers of those not locked in. The races are 60 laps for 150 miles.

Martin chooses to start the race on the outside. 5 and 39 Ryan Newman are neck  all the way around the track, but 39 leads at the line, with 21 Elliott pushing 39 and 18 Kyle Busch pushing 5. 11 Denny Hamlin gets stuck in the middle between 24 Jeff Gordon and 43 A. J. Allmendinger. 87 and 29 Kevin Harvick join him in the middle. 5 takes the lead. 87 is off the pace, but is locked in on time. 31 Jeff Burton pulls in front of 39 and 39 drops to the bottom. 21, 48  and 37 Travis Kvapil are three wide. 97 Jeff Fuller is out of the race. 21 isn’t handling well. 48 scrapes the wall. 43 gets by 18.

The first caution comes out when 31 blows a tire. Speculation is, he is using too much camber. 43 misses his pit stall and they have to back him up. There was a lot of grease and oil in the pits. 5 comes out of the pits leading and chooses the inside this time. 5 and 18 are side by side for the lead. 18 takes the lead with 24 and 16 Greg Biffle pushing him. 18 goes low and 24 takes the lead, with 16 pushing him. Then 16 takes the lead.

The second caution comes out for 46 Terry Cook sliding down the infield. 13 Max Papis and 33 got together and sent him there. Eight cars pit. 16 chooses the outside for the double file restart. 24 takes the lead. 24 goes low and 16 takes the lead. 18 takes the lead and 16 goes up behind him.

The third caution comes out when 51 Michael Waltrip spins after getting loose and gets into 78 Regan Smith and 24. They both get into the wall. 48 and 13 stay out, while the rest of the field pit. 48 chooses the inside. 5 drops to the apron and gets out of the way. (He’s on the pole, so he doesn’t want to get into anything and mess that up.) 33 pushes team mate 29. 29 and 48 are side by side at the line.

And 48 Jimmy Johnson wins the first race by only a few inches, after starting from the rear. 27 got into the wall. 13 makes it into the Daytona 500, as does 55 Michael MdDowell.

Gatorade Duel race 2.

00 David Reutimann, 20 Joey Logano, 36 Mike Bliss and 75 Derrike Cope are in back up cars and will start from the rear. 88 leads this race with the even qualifiers behind him. He chooses the inside. And leads from the pole. 17 Matt Kenseth pulls in front of 42 Juan Pablo Montoya for second. 88 moves to the outside, 17 moves low and 42 takes the lead. 2 Kurt Busch pushes team mate 12 Brad Keselowski. 88 pushes 42. 26 Boris Said is out of the race, but the car has owner points so Boris will race in the Daytona 500. 12 takes the lead. 88 has something wrong with the car and is falling back. 9 Kasey Kahne slips up the middle. 57 Norm Benning gets lapped. 17 takes the lead.

The first caution comes out during the commercial. 49 David Gilliland gets into the wall, then 20 gets into 49. 49 spins. Everyone pits. 88 has damage to his car. 12 locked the brakes getting into the pits and went around the commitment cone. That will get a penalty. He will have to restart from the rear. 17 comes out of the pits first and chooses the inside. 2 pulls ahead of 42 for second. 2 takes the lead.

90 Casey Mears shoots up the middle. 83 Brian Vickers saves it and takes the lead! 14 Tony Stewart knocks 83 into the wall to take the lead. 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. and 12 get sideways together. 77 goes to the apron. 98 Paul Menard gets loose and saves it.  9 takes the lead. 42 bumps 14 ahead. 14 and 9 battle for the lead.

And 9 Kasey Kahne wins the second Gatorade Duel, with 14 inches behind . 36 Bliss and 82 Scott Speed race their way in. That puts 51 Waltrip and 71 Labonte also in the race. So the eight drivers who were not guaranteed a spot, but raced their way in are 13, 55, 21, 87, 36, 82, 71 and 51.

Next up is NASCAR Nationwide qualifying and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday. Talk to you then.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

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