STEWART-HAAS RACING Daytona 500 Time Trials

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army/Quicken Loans Chevrolet Impala for SHR, qualified 17th after posting a lap of 46.578 seconds at 193.224 mph.

Date:               Feb. 19, 2012
Event:             54th Daytona 500 Time Trials (Round 1 of 36)
Series:             NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location:        Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Pole Winner:   Carl Edwards of Roush Fenway Racing (46.216 seconds at 194.738 mph)
SHR Lineup:   Tony Stewart (10th, 46.486 seconds at 193.607 mph)
                          Ryan Newman (17th, 46.578 seconds at 193.224 mph)
                          Danica Patrick (29th, 46.939 seconds at 191.738 mph)          

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala, led the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent in time trials for the 54th annual Daytona 500 by qualifying 10th for the season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Stewart turned a lap of 46.486 seconds at 193.607 mph on the 2.5-mile oval.

“Well, we ran wide-open around there,” said Stewart, who has 16 career victories at Daytona in Sprint Cup, the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the defunct IROC Series. “It’s not so much from the driver’s side that you can really talk about what you’ve done – it’s more to showcase the work all guys have put into this Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevy. It’s always that way when we qualify down here. Nobody has handling issues during qualifying. The drivers don’t do anything. We ride around for two laps and then see what the guys have done.”

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army/Quicken Loans Chevrolet Impala for SHR, qualified 17th after posting a lap of 46.578 seconds at 193.224 mph.

“It was really windy down the back straightaway, and that took some speed away from our U.S. Army/Quicken Loans Chevrolet,” said Newman, who won the 2008 Daytona 500. “It was not as good as it should be. We’ve been capable of much more than that here. We’ll see how we can make it race.”

SHR driver Danica Patrick, who is driving the No. 10 Chevrolet Impala for Tommy Baldwin Racing via a collaborative agreement with SHR, qualified 29th with a lap of 46.939 seconds at 191.738 mph.

“I pretty much just need to hit my shifts, and I did that,” said Patrick, whose Sprint Cup debut will come in the 54th Daytona 500. “The Chevrolet felt better than it did in practice, so I thought surely this is a good sign. But as a driver, you just try and go through the gears smooth and be smooth on the track. And beyond that, there’s really not a lot more we can do. It’s really a product of the work the guys have done through the winter and the details that they put into it. And honestly, I think we probably thought we might be a little quicker than we are right now. We were fast in January practice. It hasn’t quite translated in the way we anticipated it would coming into this week, but that’s not the end of the world.”

Locking up their starting spots for the Daytona 500 were Roush Fenway Racing teammates Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle, who qualified 1-2. Edwards notched his first career Daytona 500 pole, his first pole at Daytona and his 11th career Sprint Cup pole with a time of 46.216 seconds at 194.738 mph. Biffle missed the top spot by .155 of a second as he turned a lap in 46.371 seconds at 194.087 mph.

Forty-nine drivers made a qualifying attempt for the Daytona 500.

While Sunday’s time trials locked in the front row, the next 40 positions will be determined via Thursday’s Gatorade Duel – twin 150-mile heat races that set the majority of the 43-car Daytona 500 field. Odd numbered teams in 2011 owner points will run the first race, while even numbered teams in 2011 owner points will compete in the second race. The top-35 teams in 2011 owner points are assured of advancing into the Daytona 500, as are the highest finishing teams in the 150-mile heat races not otherwise qualified, and the three fastest teams from time trials not otherwise qualified. If needed, the 43rd position will go to the most recent series champion not otherwise qualified.

Stewart and Patrick will compete in the first Gatorade Duel race and start sixth and 17th, respectively. Newman will start eighth in the second Gatorade Duel race.

Both Stewart and Newman are guaranteed a starting spot in the Daytona 500 no matter their respective finishes in the Gatorade Duel, as each finished among the top-10 in 2011 owner points. Patrick is also guaranteed a Daytona 500 starting spot as the No. 10 car finished the 2011 season among the top-35 in owner points.

As far as manufacturers went, Ford swept the front row thanks to the runs of Edwards and Biffle. Chevrolet was next best at the hands of third-quick Dale Earnhardt Jr. (46.385 seconds at 194.028 mph). Toyota was the third-fastest make thanks to seventh-quick Martin Truex Jr. (46.472 seconds at 193.665 mph), while 18th-quick A.J. Allmendinger (46.603 seconds at 193.121 mph) carried the flag for Dodge.

The Gatorade Duel gets underway at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 23 with live coverage on SPEED. The green flag waves for the Daytona 500 at 1 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 26, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at noon.

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