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Stewart-Haas Racing - Daytona 500 Time Trials
Event: 56th Daytona 500 Time Trials (Round 1 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing (45.914 seconds at 196.019 mph)
SHR Lineup: Kevin Harvick (23rd, 46.291 seconds at 194.422 mph)
Danica Patrick (25th, 46.301 seconds at 194.380 mph)
Kurt Busch (28th, 46.373 seconds at 194.078 mph)
Tony Stewart (35th, 46.544 seconds at 193.365 mph)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, led the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent in time trials for the 56th annual Daytona 500 by qualifying 23rd for the season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Harvick turned a lap of 46.291 seconds at 194.422 mph on the 2.5-mile oval.
“It was smooth, but the wind was picking up down the backstretch, and that definitely hurt us a little bit on the RPMs,” said Harvick, who won the 2007 Daytona 500. “All in all, we got a decent lap in our Budweiser Chevy, and now it’s time to race.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 25th after posting a lap of 46.301 seconds at 194.380 mph.
“I held it wide open, the whole way around. That’s how qualifying is here at Daytona,” said Patrick, who earned her first career Sprint Cup pole in last year’s Daytona 500. “It’s pretty straightforward. You just set your shifts and keep your eye on the water temperature. It got a little warm so I had to flip the radiator fan on the backstretch. It was alright. The GoDaddy team worked very, very hard all winter to put a speedway car together. This car is better than our car last year. It’s a bummer we weren’t faster.”
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 28th after posting a lap of 46.373 seconds at 194.078 mph.
“We know the Haas Automation Chevrolet is going to be fast when it counts – and that’s next week,” said Busch, who has 10 top-fives in 26 career, point-paying Sprint Cup starts at Daytona. “We’ve been fast all weekend. We have a good car here and plenty of time to work on it before we start racing again on Thursday. We didn’t qualify where we would’ve liked today, but this is Daytona and we have another chance to improve our starting position for the Daytona 500. I have confidence in my team and myself to get the job done in the Budweiser Duel.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 35th after posting a lap of 46.544 seconds at 193.365 mph.
“Not happy with the lap, but it is what it is,” said Stewart, who has 19 overall victories at Daytona, second only to NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, who has 34 wins at Daytona. “I still feel like I have a Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy that can go out and win the 500 anyway, no matter where we start.”
Locking up their starting spots for the Daytona 500 were Austin Dillon and Martin Truex Jr., who qualified 1-2. Dillon notched his first career Sprint Cup pole with a time of 45.914 seconds at 196.019 mph. Truex missed the top spot by .039 of a second as he turned a lap of 45.953 seconds at 195.852 mph.
Forty-nine drivers made a qualifying attempt for the Feb. 23 Daytona 500.
While Sunday’s time trials locked in the front row, the remaining positions will be determined following Thursday’s Budweiser Duel – twin 150-mile heat races that set the majority of the 43-car Daytona 500 field.
Those cars earning odd-numbered positions from qualifying will be assigned to the first Duel race. Those cars earning even-numbered positions from qualifying will compete in the second Duel race. The starting positions for each Duel race will be based on qualifying times.
The top-15 finishers in each Duel race – excluding the already locked-in front row – will earn a spot in the Daytona 500 and fill positions 3-32. Based on their finishing position in the first Duel race, the top-15 will line up on the inside row (odd-number starting positions). Based on their finishing position in the second Duel race, the top-15 will line up on the outside row (even-number starting positions).
Positions 33-36 will go to the four fastest cars from qualifying that have not already earned a spot. Positions 37-42 will be provisional positions, and go to the highest six cars in 2013 owner points that have not already qualified via the Duel or qualifying. The 43rd starting position will be assigned to any car owner who has the most recent eligible past Sprint Cup champion who did not make the field by any other method, providing the driver had competed in the 2013 Sprint Cup season. If the 43rd position remains unused, it will be assigned to the next highest car in 2013 owner points not already locked into the field.
Harvick, Patrick and Stewart will compete in the first Budweiser Duel race, with Harvick starting 12th. Busch will start 14th in the second Budweiser Duel race.
Despite posting the 25th and 35th fastest times, respectively, in Daytona 500 time trials, Patrick and Stewart will have to start at the back of their Duel race because each of their teams had to change engines after Saturday’s practice session. Per the NASCAR rule book, the engine change also means they will have to start at back of the Daytona 500, regardless of their finish in the Duel.
“We have to start at the back both Thursday and Sunday anyways, so our times today aren’t really going to matter,” Stewart said. “There’s no silver lining to starting at the back of the Daytona 500. It’s not where you want to be. It’s not where our cars should be. We have better cars than that.
“I stand behind the Hendrick engine department 1,000 percent. We have the best engine department in the garage and yesterday didn’t change that. It was a bad day, for sure, but I wouldn’t want another group of guys other than the Hendrick engine group to go and diagnose it, fix it and make it better.
“I wasn’t discouraged at all after yesterday. It’s part of pushing things to the limit. If things like yesterday don’t happen, you don’t get better. They’re beating themselves up pretty good, but they shouldn’t. They’ve got an awesome group over there. Engines are a variable that I never think about each week because we know it’s going to be right, and yesterday didn’t change my feelings on that at all.”
Harvick, Patrick and Stewart are guaranteed a starting spot in the Daytona 500 no matter their respective finishes in the Budweiser Duel. Each team finished among the top-35 in 2013 owner points, with Harvick’s No. 4 team receiving the points earned by the No. 39 team in 2013. Busch, the 2004 Sprint Cup champion, does not have owner points as the No. 41 is a new team for 2014. However, as the most-recent champion not already locked into the starting field, Busch would claim the past champion’s provisional, if needed.
Chevrolet took the top spot among manufacturers via Dillon’s pole run. Ford was next-best at the hands of third-quick Greg Biffle (45.961 seconds at 195.818 mph). Toyota was the third-fastest make thanks to 17th-quick Matt Kenseth (46.255 seconds at 194.574 mph).
The Budweiser Duel gets underway at 7 p.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 20 with live coverage on FOX Sports 1. The green flag waves for the Daytona 500 at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at noon.