Daytona Duel: GM Racing preview

Team Chevy Ready for Gatorade Duel at Daytona and Daytona 500 Daytona International Speedway - Team Chevy drivers have qualifying behind them and are now focused on Thursday's Gatorade Duel at Daytona, to secure their starting positions for the...

Team Chevy Ready for Gatorade Duel at Daytona and Daytona 500

Daytona International Speedway - Team Chevy drivers have qualifying behind them and are now focused on Thursday's Gatorade Duel at Daytona, to secure their starting positions for the 49th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 18, 2007.

Success in the Duel is something Team Chevy has enjoyed. Of the 94 races run in the past 48 years (rain in 1968 canceled the events), Chevrolet drivers have been to victory lane 39 times, more than any other manufacturer.

Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Dupont Monte Carlo SS, and Sterling Marlin, No. 14 Waste Management Monte Carlo SS, have both captured three Duel wins. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS has taken the checkered flag twice while Tony Stewart, No. 20, Home Depot Monte Carlo SS, has been to winner's circle once.

Drafting practice will begin for the Bowtie Brigade on Wednesday morning. It will be the first time teams and drivers will have the opportunity to see what their Monte Carlo SS race cars will do in the draft.

Drafting is a critical element in both the Duel and the Daytona 500 - having the opportunity to see how well their cars "pull up" behind other competitor's cars. It is essential to take full advantage of the two practice sessions they have Wednesday in preparation for Thursday's fast and furious action.

The front row for the 500 is set in qualifying; qualifiers one and two are locked in the top-two starting spots. In addition to the pole qualifier, the odd-number positions (3, 5, 7, etc.) of the highest-ranked 35 finishers in the final 2006 owner's point standings will be assigned to the first race. The same procedure is used for the second race starting with the outside front row position. The lineup for each race is set on the qualifying times for those not in the top-35 at season's end by alternating between the two races utilizing the odd-even formula.

Sunday is the show for which all 61 teams in the NASCAR Nextel Cup garage are hoping to secure a starting spot in the 43-car field. A total of 18 cars will not make the field and face a disappointing ride back to their shop.

Team Chevy has also shown its strength in not only the season-opening race, but also the biggest race of the year. Every driver wants to add a win in the Daytona 500 to their resume.

"The Daytona 500 has made stock car racing what it is today," said Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Monte Carlo SS. "It is the premier stock car race. I don't think my career would be tainted by not winning the 500. However, I think it would be pretty high on the resume if you could win the Daytona 500. It is something that we all shoot for every winter. It is the biggest race that you can win."

Chevrolet drivers have captured the victory in the Daytona 500 an amazing 19 times in the 48 previous races, again, more than any other manufacturer.

Gordon leads the Bowtie active driver win list with three, in 1997, 1999 and 2005. Marlin is one of only three drivers to win consecutive 500, IN 1994 and 1995. Both Earnhardt, Jr., and Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS have one victory each. Johnson's win came last year to start his championship-winning year off with a bang.

The field for the 500 is set by a somewhat complicated formula. With the NASCAR rule guaranteeing the top-35 in points from the previous race (in this case it is the 2006 season-ending ranks), garnering a good finishing position in their respective Duel is imperative.

Qualifying sets the front row. Positions three through 39 are then set by finishing order in the Duel with 33 of those being those guaranteed by their points position. Two from each Duel will gain a starting spot based on their respective Duel finish. The remaining four are based on qualifying with one possible previous series' champion provisional.

The first of the two 150-mile Duel races is scheduled to start on Thursday at 2:00 p.m. EST followed immediately by the second race. SPEED Channel, MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio will carry the events live.

The 49th running of the "Great American Race" is scheduled to take the green flag at 3:15 p.m. EST on Sunday. FOX, MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite Radio will have all the action of the 250-lap, 500-mile race live for fans.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Sterling Marlin , Jimmie Johnson