GM Racing Daytona Speedweeks preview

Experience Gives Team Chevy An Edge For Speedweeks Success Five Current Chevy Monte Carlo SS Drivers Have Won Pole For Daytona 500; Chevy Monte Carlo SS Drivers Have Won Over Half of Budweiser Shootouts DAYTONA BEACH, Fla . - While strong past...

Experience Gives Team Chevy An Edge For Speedweeks Success

Five Current Chevy Monte Carlo SS Drivers Have Won Pole For Daytona 500; Chevy Monte Carlo SS Drivers Have Won Over Half of Budweiser Shootouts

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla . - While strong past performance does not necessarily guarantee future success in racing, Team Chevy has a history of its Monte Carlo SS drivers winning events at Speedweeks including the Budweiser Shootout and Daytona 500 pole positions (not to mention the race itself). With over half of all Shootouts won and five of its current drivers having sat on the pole for the legendary NASCAR Nextel Cup season-opener, Team Chevy's collective experience at Daytona's tri-oval will no doubt be an asset to the brand.

Daytona 500 Qualifying

As recently as last year, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS driver Jeff Burton won the pole position for the 500, which was one of 16 poles won by Chevy in the last 48 races - more than any other manufacturer. While Burton didn't win the race (Chevy has two drivers that have won the race from the pole: Cale Yarborough in 1984 and No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS driver Jeff Gordon in 1999), No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS driver Jimmie Johnson did. Johnson went on to win the 2006 Nextel Cup Series championship with Burton finishing seventh overall.

In addition, four other current Chevy drivers have won the pole for the Daytona 500: Sterling Marlin of the No. 14 Waste Management Monte Carlo SS; Jeff Green, driver of the No. 66 Best Buy Monte Carlo SS; Jeff Gordon; and Jimmie Johnson. In 2002, Johnson became one of only three rookies to win the pole for the 500 - one was Mike Skinner, who won his in a Chevrolet in 1997. No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS driver Tony Stewart also had Daytona 500 qualifying success in his rookie year: he sat on the outside of the front row of the starting grid for the 1999 event (next to Jeff Gordon, who won the race that year).

While Chevy's recent Daytona 500 history is nothing less than exemplary, the brand has had success in the legendary event since its inception. The first Daytona 500 pole was captured by Bob Welborn in a 1959 Chevy Impala, a nameplate which returns to NASCAR this year. Although Welborn didn't win that first race, Chevy drivers have managed to win 19 of the past 48 Daytona 500s with 14 of those wins taking place in the last 20 years.

A good starting position for the Daytona 500 seems to be particularly important: 26 of the 48 events have been won from a top-five starting position. Only the front row of the 500 is set on qualifying day - the drivers with the two fastest lap times start the race from the front. All others are placed in one of the Gatorade Twin 150s according to their qualifying times and owner points from the previous season. The 43-car field (minus the front row and the 43rd position) for the Daytona 500 is then set by the results of the 150s. The 43rd starting position is saved for any car owner who has a past NASCAR Nextel Cup Champion as the driver (one that competed in the previous season), provided he did not make the race by any other method.

Qualifying for the 49th running of the Daytona 500 will be held on Sunday, February 11th at 2:10 p.m. EST. Live television coverage from the track will begin that day at 2:00 p.m. on FOX.

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The Budweiser Shootout

Kicking off the NASCAR portion of Speedweeks is the Budweiser Shootout (previously known as the Busch Clash and Bud Shootout), which is a 70-lap non-points race featuring 21 drivers, 15 of who have won a pole position in the 2006 season. The remainder of the field is comprised of past Shootout winners. As a non-points-paying race, the Budweiser Shootout may not have the significance of the Daytona 500 it precedes but judging by the numbers, Team Chevy's drivers have taken it seriously. Chevy drivers have won over half (15 of 29) of the Bud Shootouts held.

Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Monte Carlo SS and 2006 Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year started of his successful season last year with an upset victory in the event. Hamlin returns as a previous winner and joins eight other Chevy drivers in the Shootout. Kyle Busch of the No. 5 Kellogg's Monte Carlo SS and Mark Martin (new to Chevy) of the No. 01 U.S. Army Monte Carlo SS both have appeared in one Shootout. Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS has two Shootouts under his belt as does Tony Stewart of the No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Shell Monte Carlo SS, has competed in the Budweiser Shootout three times while Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS has competed four times and won once. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS has run the event six times and won once. Chevy veteran Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS has competed in the event a record 13 times and won it twice.

The qualifying order drawing for the Budweiser Shootout takes place Thursday, February 8th. The event will be aired live on FOX on Saturday, February 10th at 8:30 p.m. EST.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Mike Skinner , Kevin Harvick , Jeff Green , Sterling Marlin , Jimmie Johnson , Denny Hamlin , Cale Yarborough , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin