STEWART-HAAS RACING Gatorade Duel at Daytona

Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) drivers Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart finished 10th and 12th, respectively, in race one of Thursday's Gatorade Duel - twin qualifying races that set the 43-car field for the season-opening Daytona 500. Forty-eight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers were evenly split among the two Duels, putting 24 drivers in each 150-mile race at DIS.

Date:  Feb. 17, 2011
Event:  Gatorade Duel at Daytona (non-point qualifying races for the 53rd Daytona 500)
Series:  NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location:  Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Ryan Newman Start/Finish:  3rd/10th (Running, completed 62 of 62 laps in Gatorade Duel No. 1)
Tony Stewart Start/Finish:  5th/12th (Running, completed 62 of 62 laps in Gatorade Duel No. 1)
Winners:  Gatorade Duel No. 1 - Kurt Busch of Penske Racing (Dodge) in a green-white-checkered finish
                   Gatorade Duel No. 2 - Jeff Burton of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
                       
Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) drivers Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart finished 10th and 12th, respectively, in race one of Thursday’s Gatorade Duel - twin qualifying races that set the 43-car field for the season-opening Daytona 500. Forty-eight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers were evenly split among the two Duels, putting 24 drivers in each 150-mile race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

The results mean that Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala, will start 21st in Sunday’s Daytona 500, while Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala, will roll off 25th. 

SHR avoided disaster on the second lap when Newman spun exiting turn two while Stewart was drafting behind him. In order to achieve maximum speed, it is faster for two cars to draft with each other, and Newman was being pushed by Stewart as the duo went through the second turn in third- and fourth-place, respectively. Unfortunately, they rapidly closed in on the second-place car of Mark Martin, who was pushing leader Paul Menard. Newman had to move to the high side of the track and the sudden move with Stewart right behind him caused Newman’s Chevrolet to spin down onto the backstretch skidpad.

Damage was minimal to Newman’s ride as he didn’t make contact with the wall or another car, and after a quick pit stop for four fresh tires, he was back on track.

Kurt Busch, who won last Saturday’s non-points Budweiser Shootout, kept on winning by taking the first Gatorade Duel by .065 of a second over second-place Regan Smith. Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne took spots three through five. The rest of the top-10 consisted of Juan Pablo Montoya, A.J. Allmendinger, Martin, Menard and Newman. 

Jeff Burton won the second Gatorade Duel by .005 of a second over his Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer. Michael Waltrip, Kyle Busch and Brian Keselowski took spots three through five. The rest of the top-10 consisted of Jamie McMurray, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., and Carl Edwards. 
   
With the Gatorade Duel races now complete, the field for the Daytona 500 is set. On the pole is Dale Earnhardt Jr., and alongside him is his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon. By notching the two quickest times during last Sunday’s time trials, both drivers were able to lock themselves into the front row for the Daytona 500. 

Unfortunately for Earnhardt, he crashed his qualified car during Wednesday’s practice session and will use a backup car for Sunday’s race. While the record books will forever list him as the pole winner for the 53rd Daytona 500, he will have to drop to the rear of the field before the green flag per the NASCAR rulebook. 

Those who didn’t make the cut and will be forced to watch the Daytona 500 from the sidelines are Derrike Cope, Kevin Conway, Todd Bodine, Michael McDowell and Casey Mears.

The Daytona 500 gets underway at 1 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 20 with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at noon.

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