Daytona 500 Qualifying

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Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has begun with festivities leading up to the Daytona 500. The Budweiser Shootout has been run with Kyle Busch beating Tony Stewart to the Line. Sunday was the Coors Light Pole Qualifying.

Coors Light Pole Qualifying is normally based on speeds in the first practice sessions at the tracks. But for the Daytona 500 qualifying session, things are a little different at Daytona International Speedway. The qualifying session only sets the first two positions and it is back to a draw as to how they will come onto the track, with those not locked in, coming out last in a group. Three cars will be locked into the Daytona 500 based on qualifying speeds. The rest will have to race their way into the Daytona 500 in the Gatorade Duels that will be raced on Thursday.

16 Greg Biffle was the fastest in both practices, while 21 Trevor Bayne was fastest of those not locked in. Qualifying is normally go or go home for those not locked in by Owner points. But this time it will be, go or have to race your way in.  The Duels will also set the line up for the Daytona 500. Qualifying sets the top two and determines the line up for the Duels.

27 Paul Menard came out first and ended up in fourteenth. He will be in the second Duel. 99 Carl Edwards came out fifth and took the pole from 13 Casey Mears. And held on to the Pole throughout the rest of qualifying with a speed of 194.738 mph and 46.216 seconds around this 2.5 mile track. Biffle couldn’t knock Edwards off the pole and had to settle for second, but he will start the Daytona 500 on the front row. Before the top 35 locked in completed their runs, 93 David Reutimann had some trash on his grill, which slowed him up. There was much wind on Sunday with trash flying all over the track. They had to clean up the track before qualifying could resume. Those getting onto the track early didn’t have as much wind.

21 Trevor Bayne, winner of last year’s Daytona 500 is 21 on Pole qualifying day and was the fastest of those not locked in, qualifying ninth. After all was said and done, Trevor, 26 Tony Raines and 30 David Stremme made their way into the Daytona 500 on speed.

In the Gatorade Duels, Edwards will lead the odd qualifiers. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will be starting second, followed by 9 Marcos Ambrose, 6 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Trevor Bayne for the top five. In the second Duel, Biffle will lead 13 Casey Mears, 24 Jeff Gordon, 56 Martin Truex, Jr. and 55 Mark Martin. 32 Terry Labonte may take a past Champion provisional to get into the Daytona 500 unless he races his way in. If he does, 79 Bill Elliott will be eligible for that provisional. The top two finishers not locked in, in each race will race in the Daytona 500. If both past champions race their way in, the last position will be based on speed.

15 Clint Bowyer failed post qualifying inspection when his car failed to come back up after a certain amount of time. He will have to start in his Duel from the rear. If someone other than the top two wins their Duel, they will start the Daytona 500 in third or fourth.

I’m looking forward to the Gatorade Duels on Thursday. NASCAR made many changes to the cooling system to prevent tandem racing in the Daytona 500. However, in the end, in the Budweiser Shootout it was a tandem that went to the front and won the race. And the Shootout also proved that pack racing leads to the Big One crashes. After only 75 laps, there were only ten cars in contention for the win, three of which had no damage! Five hundred laps is a very long time to be racing in big packs, which leads to crashing. But crashing is exciting, right? (I don’t think so. I prefer racing.)

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR racing.

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