Speedweeks spotlight switches to Yates, Roush

With the new Yates/Roush dynasty developing, Ford drivers swiped the spotlight from many of the top drivers in Daytona qualifying. Greg Biffle and Elliott Sadler locked in the front row for the 'Great American Race' on Sunday, while many of the ...

With the new Yates/Roush dynasty developing, Ford drivers swiped the spotlight from many of the top drivers in Daytona qualifying. Greg Biffle and Elliott Sadler locked in the front row for the 'Great American Race' on Sunday, while many of the sports starts were dimmed by a strong head wind.

Among the championship racers who qualified thirty or worse, were the cars of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart. Gordon, the four-time Winston Cup champion, posted a speed of only 184.721 mph, earning the 39th-fastest lap.

While the wind was largely blamed, Gordon wasn't sure what happened to the N0. 24 Chevy, "We're not really sure what happened, we're pretty much baffled right now."

Gordon wasn't alone in his confusion, 2002 Winston Cup champion Tony Stewart also limped around the 2.5-mile speedway posting only the 37th best time. Stewart also spent much of the Bud Shootout at the rear of the pack, although he garnered a 7th place result. The No. 20 Gibbs Chevy team is also is frustrated.

Conditions did not improve for either team during morning practice for the Nextel cup teams. Stewart was 35th quickest, Gordon 37th.

Stewart and Gordon won't be too lonely at the bottom of the speed chart. Ryan Newman has also struggled to find the juice that propelled him last year to a series-high 8 wins and 11 poles. The No. 12 Dodge has looked lackluster. Newman managed to only post 42nd best, with a speed of 184.057 mph during qualifying.

"It is what it is," commented Newman. "We'll try and find some more speed, but we'll see how it drafts."

The poor results place Stewart and Gordon at the bottom of the starting field for the first Gatorade 125 event, led by pole sitter Greg Biffle. That race is shaping up to be a humdinger, as it also includes the three DEI Chevy's of Michael Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and John Andretti.

Andretti posted the fastest lap in the third practice session, running a 191.742 mph.

Newman will race in the second 125 event; he shares the last row with Kirk Shelmerdine. Daunting challengers also crowd Newman's event, as Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick start in the top seven drivers that will follow Elliott Sadler to the green flag.

Newman's struggles continue, as the No. 12 Dodge was only 42nd quickest during Tuesday's initial practice, with a speed of 187.919 mph.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , John Andretti , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Ryan Newman , Elliott Sadler