Tag:Daytona 500
Posted on: February 25, 2012 9:13 am
Edited on: February 25, 2012 12:43 pm

Daytona 500 starting lineup quick takes

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Carl Edwards starts Sunday's race from the pole position for Roush Fenway Racing)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A quick look at the 43 drivers who will take the green flag in Sunday's running of "The Great American Race:"

Daytona 500 Driver Quick Takes 

Row 1

Carl Edwards – Perfect way to help recover from last season’s championship disappointment with a start from the pole. Four top 10 finishes in his last five Daytona starts. 

Greg Biffle - One of the strongest in practice during Speedweeks, will he keep it up in the race? 

Row 2

Tony Stewart – A winner in one of Thursday’s Gatorade Duel looking for his first career Daytona 500 win. 

Matt Kenseth – The 2009 race winner also took a checkered flag in the Duel, the first ever for Roush Fenway Racing. 

Row 3

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – The winless drought is heading to four years but a return to pack drafting style of racing could be just what the doctor ordered for Junior. 

Regan Smith – The one car Furniture Row Racing team shocked the world with a Southern 500 victory last season. Smith has a good shot at another NASCAR crown jewel on Sunday. 

Row 4

Marcos Ambrose – Consistently fast all through Speedweeks and a driver whose comfort level has risen dramatically over the last year. 

Jimmie Johnson – Will have Chad Knaus at his side for the 500 despite the pre-inspection penalty. Motivated to bounce back into title contention and to bring Knaus his first Daytona 500 win. 

Row 5

Jeff Burton – A solid Daytona outing will go a long way in helping the veteran driver’s quest to improve over his last two seasons of mediocrity. 

Elliott Sadler – Returns to the Sprint Cup Series in a fourth Richard Childress Racing entry and a potent one at that. 

Row 6

Michael McDowell – One of Thursday’s Cinderella stories that overcame long odds to earn a spot in the 500. Will most likely hook up with pal Trevor Bayne in the draft as they did in the Duel. 

Joey Logano – Got stronger as the week went on and worked well with Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Sunday is first race with new crew chief Jason Ratcliff. 

Row 7

Kevin Harvick – Reunited with former Nationwide Series crew chief Shane Wilson. Harvick is the 2007 Daytona 500 winner. 

Kyle Busch – Spectacular Budweiser Shootout performance has raised the expectation level that this is the year Busch finally breaks through and wins Daytona. However potential Toyota overheating issues will be a challenge. 

Row 8

A.J. Allmendinger – Begins his Penske Racing career with the car that was strong last year during Speedweeks when Kurt Busch was behind the wheel. 

Jeff Gordon – The four—time series champion wound up on his roof in the wild Budweiser Shootout. Starts at the rear in a back-up car that crew chief Alan Gustaffson says is potentially a better piece. 

Row 9

Robby Gordon – Got in through his Duel and immediately offered to sell the position to the highest bidder. So far no takers but the green flag has not flown just yet. 

Ryan Newman – A former winner of the event when he was with Penske Racing. Will only draft with SHR teammate Tony Stewart in an emergency as team tries not to put both cars at risk. 

Row 10

Jamie McMurray – The 2010 Daytona 500 winner needs a good start to the season as a first step of erasing last year’s miserable effort. 

Kasey Kahne – Begins his Hendrick career in a back-up after a practice accident earlier in the week. 

Row 11

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Makes his Daytona 500 debut in the Roush Fenway Racing entry that David Ragan drove to victory at Daytona last July 

Mark Martin – Still chasing the elusive Daytona 500 win and begins his career with Michael Waltrip Racing. 

Row 12

Brad Keselowski – Has had a dicey Speedweeks so far with practice crashes in the Sprint Cup Series and a big accident in Friday night’s truck series race. 

Dave Blaney – Had a guaranteed starting spot in the race until team owner Tommy Baldwin worked out a deal with Stewart-Haas Racing for Danica Patrick. But Blaney raced his way into the 500 through the Duel and has underdog written all over him. 

Row 13

David Ragan – His first career Sprint Cup win came at Daytona in July. Faces an uphill battle with the Front Row Motorsports team that did show some promise on restrictor plate tracks last year. 

Martin Truex Jr. – The leader of the Michael Waltrip Racing team in terms of tenure will try to work with new teammates Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin in the draft. 

Row 14

Aric Almirola – Richard Petty Motorsports’ newest driver would like nothing better than to follow Trevor Bayne taking the Wood Brothers to victory lane last year by bringing “The King” a win in the iconic No. 43. 

Kurt Busch – The man who wanted to bring the fun back to his career after parting ways with Penske Racing has one of his best chances at Daytona with the plate potent Phoenix Racing organization. 

Row 15

Danica Patrick – Has already made headlines this week with her huge Duel crash and a pole in the season-opening Nationwide Series race. She’ll have lots of eyeballs on her first 500 performance to say the least. 

Clint Bowyer – Race number one of his Michael Waltrip Racing career and a pre-season pick by some to finally bring the organization a Chase berth. 

Row 16

Denny Hamlin – Former Daytona 500 and Sprint Cup Series championship winning crew chief Darian Grubb will try to guide Hamlin to his first victory in “The Great American Race.” 

Bobby Labonte – The veteran driver brings a new sense of energy to Daytona thanks to some off season moves by the JTG Daugherty Racing team including new crew chief Todd Berrier. 

Row 17

David Gilliland – Surprised everyone with a third place finish in last year’s Daytona 500. Starts a back-up car Sunday after a big crash in Thursday’s Duel. 

Joe Nemechek – “Front Row Joe” starts a long way from there on Sunday but just making the race was an accomplishment for this independent driver. 

Row 18

Juan Pablo Montoya – Another driver in a back-up ride after his Duel crash on Thursday. New crew chief Chris Heroy trying to help JPM shake last year’s blues. 

Casey Mears – The switch to Ford by Germain Racing hasn’t reaped any benefits just yet. 

Row 19

Paul Menard – Has been very critical of NASCAR’s new restrictor plate rules package, not surprising since Menard in on his third car of the week. 

David Reutimann – Landed with the new BK Racing team, which bought the assets of the former Red Bull Racing operation.

Row 20

Landon Cassill – Reutimann’s teammate at BK Racing spent last year with Phoenix Racing where he was ushered aside for the Kurt Busch “Just Wants to Have Fun” tour. 

Trevor Bayne – The 2011 Cinderella winner was forced to race his way into 50 to defend his crown. He’ll have to come a long way from back in the field to get back into contention but has proven to again be worthy running in the draft this Speedweeks. 

Row 21

Tony Raines – The Indiana driver and former short track standout drove another Front Row Motorsports entry into the field and kept veterans like Michael Waltrip and Kenny Wallace out in the process. 

David Stremme – The Inception Motorsports team has eight full-time employees, the same number of people hired to polish Jimmie Johnson’s helmet at Hendrick Motorsports.

Row 22

Terry Labonte – In on a past champion’s provision which by the way was earned by his 1996 title. Nothing against “Texas Terry” but that’s a rule in need of changing.

Daytona Speedweeks

Category: Auto Racing
Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:50 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 2:34 pm

Kyle Busch tops second Friday practice

By Pete Pistone


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - For the first time since Speedweeks began last week a Ford driver did not top Daytona 500 practice.

Kyle Busch put his Toyota on top of the speed chart in Friday's second session with a lap of 199.885 mph. Last Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout winner was the best of the 23 drivers who took part in the session with a number of teams again electing to sit out.

Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano was second fastest with a lap of 199.885 mph, an identical mark to the No. 18 M&M's Camry as teh duo hooked up in a tandem draft.

Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart rounded out the top five.

Final Daytona 500 practice is slated for Saturday morning.

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:36 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 1:42 pm

Crash hasn't shaken Danica Patrick

By Pete Pistone

  Danica Patrick, Driver Of The #10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, Speaks
(Patrick and crew chief Greg Zipadelli discuss the plan to run the No. 10 back-up car in the Daytona 500)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Danica Patrick's violent crash in Thursday's Gatorade Duel qualifying race hasn't dampened her NASCAR spirits.

Patrick was fortunate to climb uninjured from her battered Chevrolet after the hard impact she made to the backstratech inside wall in Thursday's wreck. While she'll be forced to go to a back-up car in her first Daytona 500 on Sunday, Patrick won't let the accident change her approach to what she does for a living.

“We are not average people," Patrick said during her media availability at Daytona on Friday.  "We are not average to drivers on the road.  We race, I’m not saying we crash for a living, but it is part of racing for a living.  I feel fine.  I feel good.  I’m ready to go.  We are not going to go out for the first practice in the Cup car. So the guys get a chance to make sure everything is perfect and make sure the car is ready to go because it will be the last opportunity before Sunday.

"I would be ready to go if they said we are heading out in the first green flag.  I feel good.  Do I like crashing? Of course not. I don’t think anybody likes crashing, but it’s part of the business and it’s part of big pack racing like this. So many more cars in a close quarter and while the accident started on the outside you don’t even have to take part in it, you just have to be there.  As the first car hits the second car, as the second car hits the third car and then you know I was the third car.  Sometimes there is just nothing you can do.”

Patrick has seen the replay and run the incident over in her mind in the last 24 hours but says she still can't completely comprehend what happened. She can explain the move she made just before the impact that was caught on her in-car television camera when she put her hands on top of her helmet just before the car slammed into the wall.

“I would be happy to clear that up," she said.  "In Indy cars we learn to take the hands off the wheel because the holes for your hand are even smaller and we have dashes and the wheel flips.  I’ve had plenty of times where I have bruised my thumb, my bones, on the wheel.  I was trained to, when there is no saving it and no hope, you let go.  That is what I did yesterday.  Was I covering my eyes? I honestly felt like my hands were down here (places hands near her chest) but they were higher than that I guess. 

"I did watch it.  I watched the second race and then I went back and watched the accident.  No, I wasn’t covering my eyes, but yes I did close them as I got to the wall.  I didn’t want my eyes to pop out of my head.  Obviously, I tried to save it and thought there is nothing happening here so I might as well let go.  Again, that is an IndyCar thing.  I don’t see any point in keeping my hands tangled up with anything that is going to be moving.   I was just talking to medical on the way in here actually and he was giving me some ‘at a girl’ on doing that because all kinds of things can happen the more you connect yourself with stuff."

So both mentally and physically Patrick is ready to chalk up her adventure to the nature of being an auto racer and set to put it in the rear view mirror.

"Everything feels pretty good," Patrick said.  "I hit my foot on the clutch, which is my fault because I moved the clutch pedal towards me.  I hit my arm on the side of the seat because of the angle I went in on the right front.  We are just going to trim the seat up a little bit.  I actually feel better today.  That is a really good thing because last night it was starting to get sore. My husband is a physical therapist so he’s got a lot of good tricks and we’ve got a lot of good tricks on the bus to take care of things that don’t feel right.  That is why I feel better today.”

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 24, 2012 12:08 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 1:24 pm

Opening Friday practice to Carl Edwards

By Pete Pistone


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Teams changed engines after Thursday's Duel at Daytona qualifying races and had their first chance to hit teh track for practice Friday morning.

However only 16 drivers took advantage of the opportunity and Carl Edwards led the way.

With several teams opting to sit out the day's first of two practice sessions choosing to not risk damage to their Daytona 500 cars, Edwards continued the Ford dominance of Speedweeks with a fast lap of 198.671 mph. Ford has led all five Daytona 500 practices so far this week.

Richard Petty Motorsports teammates Aric Almirola and Marcos Ambrose were next on the list with Juan Pablo Montoya - in a back-up car after wrecking his primary mount in Thursday's qualifying race - and Greg Biffle rounding out the top five.

The day's final practice session is set for early Friday afternoon.

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 23, 2012 6:18 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 7:40 pm

Paul Menard critical of pack drafting rules

By Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Paul Menard has been in two races so far this Speedweeks and involved in crashes both times.

The Richard Childress Racing driver followed up his Budweiser Shootout accident with getting swept up in another big wreck Thursday in the Gatorade Duel at Daytona and thinks the new rules to encourage pack drafting are the culprit.

"Just a product of this hybrid tandem-pack racing," Menard said after Thursday's incident with David Gilliland and Juan Pablo Montoya. "All the rule changes are just making a big mess of what was a pretty good race. I’m hoping to survive on Sunday.

If I say my mind right now; NASCAR is trying to dictate physics. Physics says two cars are going to push and they’re trying to make rule changes to keep us from doing it, so it is kind of a hybrid of pack racing and tandem racing. It is causing a pretty unsafe situation.”

Menard is obviosuly frustrated by the circumstances and having two cars destroyed in the span of a week.

“Yes, for sure," he said. "We tore up two really good race cars not of our doing, and they’re going to tear up a hell of a lot more. They are probably going to blow up a few the way things are right now. I’m concerned we’re not going to finish. It is going to make for us, I think, riding around in the back, and trying to be there at the end. Wait for everybody else to wreck.”

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 23, 2012 6:05 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 7:37 am

Matt Kenseth and team post Duel comments

Posted by Pete Pistone

Jimmy, talk about the 17 car, certainly what a super move there at the end of that race to overcome your teammate Greg Biffle.

JIMMY FENNIG:  Yeah, I mean, it was a good move by Matt, and Jimmie Johnson kind of set Greg up.  Little bit of a sitting duck there.  Them guys got hooked up and he took it to Victory Lane from there.  Good move.  Very good move.

KERRY THARP:  Jack, you're sitting on the pole.  You have Matt that's going to be up near the front, Greg Biffle.  All your cars are going to be right up at the front for the Daytona 500.  Congratulations.  Great performance today for the 17 Best Buy Ford.

JACK ROUSH:  Thanks, Kerry.  Painfully it's been brought to my attention this is this the first Duel we've won in 25 years.  I'm certainly embarrassed about that.

We had really strong Fords today.  Doug and the guys, Tom Ghent did a great job with the engines.  The engines qualified well.  Of course, they draft well.  They do at least average in keeping water in the cooling system.

But Matt did a super job.  Matt likes to hang around the front of these fields, not everybody agrees with that.  But Matt likes to be hanging around the front of the field.  It paid a dividend today.

He did a great job.  Wouldn't have won the race unless somebody helped him.  Jimmie Johnson decided he'd rather be close to Matt than get shuffled back.  Whatever the reason was, the win was primarily attributable to the fact he had somebody helping him because the difference in the speed of the cars is not as great as the difference in the cars being hooked upped and not going hooked up.

Matt always does a good job.  The guys worked hard all winter and Jimmy is the man.

KERRY THARP:  We'll take questions, please.

Q.  Jack, could you speak to the engine temperatures you saw in your cars today and any suggestions you might give to NASCAR to alleviate it.

JACK ROUSH:  I hoped to have the engines that have the most tolerance for temperature in the field.  Doesn't matter what the temperature.  The FR-9 engine has proven to be at least average.  I've heard reports of 270 degrees.  I don't know if that's real or if it was sustained.  I haven't looked at the data yet.  When we get back to the engineering center, we'll be able to look our data over now that we have our data acquisition up with the fuel injection.

I think that 270 degrees was probably a real number and that some people were able to hold their water at 270 and some aren't.

Q.  Jack, after going through the Shootout and the Duels, has NASCAR's decision to eliminate in-car communications had any practical effect on the racing?

JACK ROUSH:  If you're not in pairs of two-by-two for most of the race, I think it doesn't matter.  If you're able to set up a partnership, as a driver, with another driver, I think there's a great benefit to it 'cause once you have that done, you can have one spotter coordinating things and the drivers can communicate with each other when they need to.

I think you'll see in the 500 -- I don't think you'll see as much two-car drafting as we saw in the previous race or two, but I think there will be some when it comes time to close the deal at the end of the race.

KERRY THARP:  Joining us now is our winning driver, who won the No. 17 Best Buy Ford, Matt Kenseth.

Certainly a terrific finish, quite the move you put on there at the end of the race.  Talk about that performance and then also talk about your mindset as you look to try to get your second Daytona 500 victory.

MATT KENSETH:  Thanks.  I feel a lot better today than we did Sunday morning I guess or after Saturday night.  We had a lot of speed in our car when we got out front early.  I could tell we had a really fast car.  I had to figure out where to put it, who to be with, how to try to get people to help you, all that.

Early on, Jimmie, I saw him on the outside, he was able to push us up to the front.  We were able to stay up there for quite a while in the beginning together, then he got around me.  When I saw him on the outside of the end, I decided that was my best shot for the win.  I tried to get under one of the guys in front of me, still have one in front of me.  Just kind of backed up to his bumper and he stayed right with me, kept shoving me all the way in there.

KERRY THARP:  We'll go back to questions.

Q. Jack, did you figure you were going to be in here with Biffle or were you worried because he was in front that you weren't coming in here at all?

JACK ROUSH:  To be leading the race as much as Greg did kind of sets you up to be a sitting duck.  I had a sense of foreboding that he probably wouldn't be there.  But I had hoped that he would.

Certainly the fact that the thing strung out a little bit gave me hope.  It would have been unusual for there not to be a challenge from two cars.  I'm just happy that Matt was in front of Jimmie instead of Jimmie in front of Matt.

Q.  Matt, that was a great move on the swing to the inside on Biffle.  Were you surprised that Biffle went up high like he did?

MATT KENSETH:  Well, we were going so much faster that we were going to go by him regardless.  I think that was his only hope, is to try to get up the track, try to line my front bumper up where I had to push him.  The problem was, I was going too fast.  Even if I wanted to slow down, which I didn't want to on the last lap, I couldn't have.

Jimmie was pushing me so hard.  We were locked together.  I know Jimmie can't see what's going on up there.  I had no other choice.  Wherever he went I was just going to go the opposite way.

Just thankful that when he did do that block, that Jimmie was able to be clear, because when I turned down to the bottom, if Jimmie couldn't have squeezed up through there in the middle, I would have lost the seal right there, we would have been history.  But luckily we were able to stay together and get clear of them guys.

Q.  Matt, a relatively calm race.  Do you expect that to be the norm for Sunday or do you expect the nerves to get into people?

MATT KENSETH:  I think you'll see a little mixture of everything.  Hopefully we'll see more like we saw in the second race.  It was warm out there.  There was a little bit of handling that came into play.  It was a lot harder to get from the back to the front than I expected.  When I was able to get up to Greg to the lead there, he worked his way to the bottom.  I was the only one on the top.  We dropped back quite a ways.  I think that was before the pit stop.  We came in, Jimmy made a great call of no tires.  Otherwise I don't think we would have got back to the front.  It was tough to work your way all the way back to the front.

There's going to be more cars out there obviously in the 500.  There will be bigger hole.  The rear cars will have bigger runs and going faster and that will create more passing.  I think you're going to kind of see a mixture.  Hopefully we see more of what we saw today, at least from my standpoint.

Q.  Matt, you've raced now in two different races.  Essentially Saturday seemed to be a lot more chaotic than today.  Was there anything you took away from one race or the other that will help you?  You were talking about cutting through the air.  Since you have raced in two different forms of racing, what have you taken away from it and how are you going to plan it on Sunday?

MATT KENSETH:  I think the biggest difference from Saturday to today, there's a couple things, the track conditions are fairly different.  It was cool on Saturday, it was dark.  The engines ran cooler, you could push longer.  It was the first race of the season, the first race with these rules.  I think a lot of people were feeling different things out.  I think even the guys that weren't in the race that got to watch on TV learned a lot.  When you get on somebody's left rear, you're going to spin them out.

I think you learned where the big run was, where you can push people, where you can't, what information you want from your spotter.  I think a lot of people watched that race, and the people that were in it that wrecked probably learned a lot it from as well.  I think that probably played a little bit into today.

Q.  What kind of engine temperatures did you see?  Did it affect the way you were able to race?

MATT KENSETH:  210.  I'm just kidding (smiling).  I thought Jack was going to punch me if I said how hot it was.

I didn't watch the gauge.  I watched if water was coming out.  So you really watch that more than anything.  Like at the end, I'm sure Jimmie's car was hot pushing me.  After you take the white, the race isn't going to be restarted.  It doesn't matter from a driver's perspective, you're going to get all the speed you can out of it.

Probably was warmer and lost a little more water than what I would have liked.  I think it's going to be a little cooler Sunday.

The only other a little bit of concern from my standpoint, especially being in the back, if you get a little bit of trash on the grill, there's not a lot of room for error there.  But it was okay.

Q.  It's hard probably to rank victories, but can you put this one in perspective?  Could you also expound on what happened when you pushed Greg to the front and then dropped to 13th.

MATT KENSETH:  It's always really fun to win, no matter what kind of race it is.  Obviously half the field, it's not a points race, so it's not like winning the Daytona 500 or Phoenix or something.  But it's still a big win for us.  We've never been able to win one of these races down here, Shootouts or 150s.  We've been trying for a long time so it feels good to have everything go right, have everything line up and be able to win that race.  It feels good.  You feel a lot more confident than what you do after having a bad race like Saturday where you get wrecked.

With Greg, he got back there and I started pushing him.  We got locked together real good.  I was going to push him all the way to the lead.  I was going to get too hot.  The guy who was leading kind of pulled me off of Greg a little bit.  Greg had the momentum.  He just pulled to the bottom.  I think he thinks we were probably going to go to the back.  We needed to stay sealed up pushing each other for another 15 feet so we could have both cleared.

As soon as he got clear, he separated, pulled in line.  Kind of left me by myself.  I had a slow journey from second to 13th.  Took the day to get back in there.

Even if he would have stayed out there, I don't know that we would have got 'em.  That's your job as a driver.  Got up to the lead, had a chance to get down in there and win the race.  That's what you're supposed to do, take that spot.

Q.  Matt, after Tony Stewart won the first qualifier, he said he liked showing strength during this race because it's important to show that you have a strong car.  Do you agree with that?  Do you feel you and Greg and the Fords showed a lot today that maybe you'll have people working with you Sunday?

MATT KENSETH:  I agree with him, it is important.  I also think you want to try to -- you always want to do your best, but you want to try to do your best in this race, be loyal to a guy that's helping you, not make anybody mad, be erratic, hang somebody out too bad. Also for the people watching, I don't want to do that, I'm going to push him to that spot, he's going to leave me sitting.

Obviously, having a fast car makes my job a lot easier.  I thought from working with Jimmie early in the race, helping him get up there, him helping me get up there, probably helped us there a little bit hopefully.

Q.  Matt, certainly you guys will have Tony surrounded, Roush Fenway drivers will occupy three of the top four starting spots.  Does that loyalty extend to your teammates when it comes down to push to shove?  Will you link up and try to pull away early?

MATT KENSETH:  I don't know that you're going to be able to do that.  You're not going to want to do a lot of pushing early in the race, push water out of the car, get hot.  At least there probably won't be for me.

Certainly I think you race all day.  You just race to try to have yourself in the best position.  Like always, you're going to try the best you can to take care of your teammates as good as you can.  Obviously, if it's multiple choice at the end, you're going to get the same answer for yourself.  Obviously you're going to go with a teammate instead of going somewhere else when it comes down to the end of the race.

I think the first 480 miles is going to be about trying to get in the best position you can, try to hold the best track position you can, hopefully find a safe spot where you can keep your car cool and be away from any trouble.

Q.  Jack, after a day like today, do you have any words of advice or encouragement for Greg?

JACK ROUSH:  Greg did it right today.  He was just in a situation where he couldn't stop a run that was coming at him.  By being out front, he kept himself out of harm's way all day.  That was certainly a good strategy.

Just see what happens at the end.  If things had broken a little bit differently, it could have been more of a foot race than it was between Greg and Matt.  But, you know, you're going to lead this thing if you can.  You're not going to fall back to fifth and sixth and take a chance on getting caught in the middle or getting shuffled.  Take what you get.

Q.  Matt, was the fact that Johnson went with you just coincidence?  You seem to have a history of racing each other hard but racing each other with a lot of respect.  Did that have anything to do with it or was it a split-second deal?

MATT KENSETH:  I mean, it's not like we made a deal before the race or anything like that.

But I think, you know, first you're going to try to do whatever you can to get the best finish for yourself.  Early in the race, when we pushed each other, got me to the front, ended up passing me, got in good position, stayed there the whole time.  He moved out to the outside, didn't really have a run.  I was guessing that's what he wanted.  If you're the first one in that row, you're going to be the first one to pass the leader in you're in front of him.

I really thought we'd stay attached and he'd push me to the front and probably pass me off of four like Kyle did Saturday.  Somehow I think when Greg went up to block, we went underneath him, somewhere shortly after that, we came unattached.  I'm not sure what happened to everybody without watching it.  It looked like they were at least three-wide behind me.  I was way out there.  Thankfully then to get the team back up and run me back down.  But I don't know.  Somehow we came out attached there.  But that's what I expected to happen after watching Saturday's race.

Q.  Jack, several other drivers in here said the water temperatures were enough to make them concerned, they wanted a bigger grill opening, more this, more that.  I get the impressions you are satisfied you have that particular area covered.  If Mike Helton comes to you and said, We're thinking about doing this, what are you going to suggest to him?

JACK ROUSH:  The reason they went to the lower pressure cap and smaller openings is because they said they didn't want the cars to stay together.  As anxious as I am to be on NASCAR's good side, I don't want to be the guy that raises my hand and says, We're going stick these guys together by increasing the pressure cap or opening the radiator up or shortening the tail, whatever they made changes to.

Whatever they do is fine.  It's the same for everybody.  I hope it's not a lot different than what we had today.  Today was a good dry run for what we had on Sunday.  I'd like for the things that we learned today, that Matt, Greg and Ricky learned today, I would hope that those things - and Carl - I would hope that those things come into play on Sunday and we don't have a huge change in rules.

Daytona Speedweeks

Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:53 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 7:26 pm

2012 Daytona 500 starting lineup

Here's your starting lineup for Sunday's Daytona 500 after Thursday's Gatorade Duels.

1. Carl Edwards
2. Greg Biffle
3. Tony Stewart
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6. Regan Smith
7. Marcos Ambrose
8. Jimmie Johnson
9. Jeff Burton
10. Elliott Sadler
11. Michael McDowell
12. Joey Logano
13. Kevin Harvick
14. Kyle Busch
15. AJ Allmendinger
16. Jeff Gordon
17. Robby Gordon
18. Ryan Newman
19. Jamie McMurray
20. Kasey Kahne
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
22. Mark Martin
23. Brad Keselowski
24. Dave Blaney
25. David Ragan
26. Martin Truex Jr.
27. Aric Almirola
28. Kurt Busch
29. Danica Patrick
30. Clint Bowyer
31. Denny Hamlin
32. Bobby Labonte
33. David Gilliland
34. Joe Nemechek
35. Juan Pablo Montoya
36. Casey Mears
37. Paul Menard
38. David Reutimann
39. Landon Cassill
40. Trevor Bayne
41. Tony Raines
42. David Stremme
43. Terry Labonte

Daytona Speedweeks
Category: Auto Racing
Tags: Daytona 500
Posted on: February 23, 2012 3:47 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 7:27 pm

VIDEO: Danica Patrick crashes on last lap of Duel

Posted by Pete Pistone

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Danica Patrick's first appearance in the Gatorade Duel at Daytona ended violently with a hard crash into the backstretch inside wall.

Patrick climbed from her car uninjured in the vicious crash and gave her view of what took place after she made on track contact with Aric Almirola.

“It happened really quickly," Patrick explained.  "I guess you can always imagine when you get down to the end of the race everyone is on each other’s doors really close.  It’s just kind of what happens at the end of the race.  Unfortunately, I was part of it.  I felt like I was having at least a solid race.  I worked my way up there at the beginning a little bit; hung around in the front group for a while.  I felt like it kind of slowed down I was dragging the brake a little bit just to keep with the pack and not run up to them too quickly.  I don’t know if that had any affect.  We were just looking to finish to be honest; unfortunately that was not the case.”

Patrick ran inside the top ten for some of Thursday's first 60-lap qualifying race but wasn't really a challenger for the lead or win. Still she feels the day was part of her learning process and she'll try to take something away from the experience including the crash.

“I’m betting that everybody that was watching on TV probably had the best look," Patrick said. "From my perspective it was obviously the last lap and the bottom lane started moving well so that is where I was.  We were just getting our run down the back and all of a sudden I got hit.  I’m betting that somebody also got hit outside of me, is what I’m betting.

"I’m going to have to look.  It was just a chain reaction every person that gets hit, next and next and next.  It gets bigger and bigger.  It felt like a pretty big hit so I don’t know what it looked like.  I’m really just bummed out that we didn’t finish the last two corners.  Instead we have a Go Daddy car in the wall and lots of damage and I’m sure a back-up.  But, what I said was maybe the back-up car will be faster.”

Daytona Speedweeks
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