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Lineups take shape for dicey duels at Daytona

February 17, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com

20130217qualifiers

Qualifying races present both opportunity and peril ahead of 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon locked up the top two spots for the Daytona 500 after Sunday's pole qualifying, but even though the rest of the field is an uncertainty, two other starting lineups came into much clearer focus.

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The qualifying speed chart determined the grid for Thursday's Budweiser Duel, the pair of 150-mile qualifying races that will set the starting order for the Feb. 24 Great American Race. Patrick will set the pace from the pole position in the first race and fellow front-row starter Jeff Gordon will start first in the second event of the twin bill.

The top 15 finishers in each Duel race -- excluding Patrick and Gordon -- will clinch a Daytona 500 berth, filling in spots 3-32 in the field. The rest of the 43-car field will be set by a mix of qualifying time (positions 33-36) and provisional berths (positions 37-43), with just two cars on the entry list failing to make the main event.

While teams will be eager to make the most of their track time to gain positions on the starting grid and learn more about their Daytona 500 vehicles, drivers also enter the two races with some anxiety over protecting their primary cars.

"That is our fastest car that we have. We want to keep it clean but we still have to learn what we need to do with it to have the best setup for the Daytona 500 when it comes on Sunday," said Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who will start sixth Thursday in the second Duel. "We will be out there trying to work on it each time we have pit stops and in practice. We will try to get it driving good. By the end of the 500 you want a car that is driving good, not just on speed.”

Results of the qualifying races can often cast a preliminary winner as a Daytona 500 favorite. Matt Kenseth prevailed in the second Duel event last year before winning his second 500 crown, but he was the first driver to sweep both races since 2004, when Dale Earnhardt Jr. accomplished the feat.

The lineups:

Race 1
Race 2
Pos.
No.
Driver
Pos.
No.
Driver
1
10
Danica Patrick
1
24
Jeff Gordon
2
21
Trevor Bayne
2
39
Ryan Newman
3
14
Tony Stewart
3
5
Kasey Kahne
4
11
Denny Hamlin
4
18
Kyle Busch
5
22
Joey Logano
5
20
Matt Kenseth
6
88
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6
17
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
7
42
Juan Pablo Montoya
7
27
Paul Menard
8
13
Casey Mears
8
33
Austin Dillon
9
99
Carl Edwards
9
15
Clint Bowyer
10
56
Martin Truex Jr.
10
31
Jeff Burton
11
48
Jimmie Johnson
11
1
Jamie McMurray
12
2
Brad Keselowski
12
9
Marcos Ambrose
13
29
Kevin Harvick
13
43
Aric Almirola
14
16
Greg Biffle
14
55
Mark Martin
15
38
David Gilliland
15
34
David Ragan
16
26
Michael Waltrip
16
35
Josh Wise
17
78
Kurt Busch
17
98
Michael McDowell
18
95
Scott Speed
18
32
Terry Labonte
19
51
Regan Smith
19
7
Dave Blaney
20
47
Bobby Labonte
20
36
JJ Yeley
21
83
David Reutimann
21
93
Travis Kvapil
22
87
Joe Nemechek
22
19
Mike Bliss
23
52
Brian Keselowski
 
 
 
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