DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The lineup for Sunday's Daytona 500 will be set after today's Gatorade Duel at Daytona twin 150-mile qualifying races. Teams will have their final shot to make "The Great American race" with four spots available in the pair of races to transfer into Sunday's Daytona 500.
We'll provide updates throughout the morning leading up to the 2 p.m. ET green flag of race number one.
JOHNSON WEIGHS IN ON DAYTONA DRAFTING (12:30 PM)
Jimmie Johnson didn't have a very good Budweiser Shootout as he was one of the four Hendrick Motorsports cars involved in one of the night's multitude of accidents. But Johnson got a taste of the new drafting styles that have played themselves out at Speedweeks and gave his view of things when he visited with SIRIUS/XM NASCAR Radio's "The Morning Drive:"
AUDIO: JIMMIE JOHNSON'S VIEWS ON DAYTONA DRAFTING
KENSETH QUESTIONS EDWARDS ON DUEL STRATEGY (12 Noon)
Carl Edwards says he'll race as hard as he can to win his Gatorade Duel Thursday and is not worried about possibly crashing and losing his primary car - and number starting spot - in Sunday's Daytona 500. However his Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth doesn't but it.
“Well, Carl is lying because he is on the pole if he doesn’t tear his car up. I don’t think he can start on the pole with a backup car," Kenseth said. "He is not being truthful at all. Me on the other hand, nobody wants to wreck first of all, but if you didn’t think this is your best car they wouldn’t have brought this one for the 500. We want to make it through the race but I will do whatever Jimmy (Fennig) wants to do. He told me the other day on the phone that we came here to race and if we wreck it we will unload another one. He wants me to race hard and that is what the fans want us to do and what we are paid to do. We can learn stuff for Sunday by putting ourselves in all kinds of different positions and racing hard. That is our plan, to try to work our way to the front and hopefully have a shot at the end.”
MONTOYA'S TEAM SET FOR DUEL (11:30 AM)
Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing is ready to put last year's disappointing effort behind beginning with a strong run in Thursday's Gatorade Duel. Juan Pablo Montoya's new crew chief Chris Heroy told SIRIUS/XM NASCAR Radio the No. 42 Target Chevrolet team doesn't plan to take a sit back and watch approach to its 150 miler.
"Some guys are gonna hang out in the back but we won't be one of them," said Heroy. "We want to race, we need to see how things are going to play themselves out for Sunday but we also just want to race and win. It's about winning and trophies for this race team and we plan to go out and try to accomplish that today."
HENDRICK WILL APPEAL POTENTIAL PENALTY (11:15 AM)
Rick Hendrick does not believe NASCAR made the right decision confiscating the C-Posts of Jimmie Johnson's car when the No. 48 failed Daytona 500 inspection last weekend.
The team owner told USA Today if NASCAR does penalize the team any further including the speculation of crew chief Chad Knaus being suspended he will appeal.
"Yes. I think NASCAR does a good job in the garage area, and sometimes you agree and sometime you don't," Hendrick told the newspaper. "I'm gathering all the facts on our end about when the car raced and who worked on it. We have really good documentation in our shop for every hour spent on a car and who does what with the mill and paint work. I've talked to the guys who do that work in the shop. I feel good about our position, but I have to sit down and go through it and present our case and go from there."
Hendrick believes the car was legal and questions why NASCAR found issues this time around and not others.
"It ran every restrictor-plate race we raced last year and went to the R&D Center," he said. "So, it's only been painted since then. It's been seen an awful lot (by NASCAR). So I need to get down to why it was wrong this time and (why) it's OK the other times."
NATIONWIDE SERIES HITS THE TRACK (11 AM)
The 2012 Nationwide Series season kicks off Saturday with the DRIVE4COPD 300 a race that Tony Stewart has won for four straight seasons. Stewart will be in Saturday's race in a Richard Childress Racing entry looking for five straight and took part in Thursday's first practice session. While the Sprint Cup Series has seen limited two car drafting during Speedweeks thanks to the new rules imposed by NASCAR, based on Thursday's practice the tandem draft will be the tactic of choice in the Nationwide Series. The session was filled with drivers pairing up and drivers report Saturday's race will more than likely feature much more of the style than Sunday's Daytona 500.