The 50th Daytona 500 is one of the most anticipated races in NASCAR history, and the front row is now set for the Great American Race. The front row includes two drivers who - as previous winners of the race - already have their own Harley J. Earl...
The 50th Daytona 500 is one of the most anticipated races in NASCAR history, and the front row is now set for the Great American Race. The front row includes two drivers who - as previous winners of the race - already have their own Harley J. Earl trophies at home. Jimmie Johnson will lead the field to the green next Sunday from the pole position, while Michael Waltrip will start second.
53 cars took time during the three-hour qualifying session. The remainder of the starting lineup for the season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Daytona International Speedway will be determined Thursday in the two Gatorade Duels, 150-mile qualifying races.
Bobby Labonte and the No. 43 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge team were 47th on the qualifying chart today. Labonte will be a participant in the first Gatorade Duel on Thursday. The team is locked into the Daytona 500 based upon last year's point standings and the Gatorade Duel will give them an opportunity to fine tune their race setup for the 500.
"We thought we would pick up from where we practiced on Saturday, but that didn't happen," said Labonte. "(Crew chief Jeff) Meendering and the guys really worked hard during practice and we made some gains on the car. We definitely got faster. But for our qualifying setup we were just a little bit off with this new Dodge Charger. It doesn't take much to be off here, but I'm confident we'll race well next Sunday."
Kyle Petty and the No. 45 Wells Fargo Dodge team qualified 49th on Sunday. Like Labonte, Petty is locked into the Daytona 500 and will also race in the first Gatorade Duel on Thursday. During Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona in January, crew chief Bill Wilburn worked extensively on race setup and getting the car to work well in the draft which is critical to be competitive in the Daytona 500.
"The car is exactly the same as it was in winter testing," said Petty. "I'm comfortable with the way it drives, but we just couldn't get it to make a fast lap in qualifying trim. We're still feeling this new Dodge Charger out but we are off to a good start. We have a lot of practice and the qualifying race on Thursday to work on it some more. I'm confident about the rest of our week."