Danica Patrick rallies late to make Daytona 500 field Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Buy Daytona 500 gear RELATED: Daytona Duel #1 results " Daytona Duel #2 results " Daytona 500 starting lineup DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—Hendrick Motorsports swept the front-row starting positions for Sunday's Daytona 500. Apparently enjoying the feeling, HMS then swept Thursday's Budweiser Duel at Daytona twin 150-mile qualifying races. Dale Earnhardt Jr . came from his last-place starting position to win Thursday night's first Budweiser Duel at Daytona 150-mile qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway, as unsung heroes behind him diced their way into the 57th running of the Great American Race (1 p.m. ET on FOX). Jimmie Johnson, on the pole for the second Duel and already locked into the outside of the front row for the Daytona 500, completed the Hendrick sweep with a .125-second victory over Kyle Busch, leading 40 laps in the process. MORE: Driver Reports previews the Daytona 500 In a drama-filled second Duel, both Danica Patrick and David Ragan recovered from wrecks to race their way into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' most prestigious race, Patrick with a strong push from Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch. For the second time during Speedweeks, Patrick was involved in a crash with Denny Hamlin, and the two drivers had an extended animated conversation as soon as the cars parked on pit road. Earnhardt started 25th in the first Duel because his qualifying time was disallowed after inspectors discovered a ride-height violation on his No. 88 Chevrolet after Sunday's time trials. Undeterred, Earnhardt worked his way methodically to the front, grabbing the lead for the first time on Lap 35. All told, Earnhardt led 21 laps and crossed the finish line .165 seconds ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate and Daytona 500 polesitter Jeff Gordon. As the winner of the first Duel, Earnhardt will line up behind Gordon in the third spot on the grid for Sunday's race. MORE: Danica rallies to make Daytona 500 " Mears makes Daytona 500 field In the non-points qualifier, Earnhardt won for the first time with new crew chief Greg Ives, who took over this season for Steve Letarte, hired by NBC Sports as a television analyst. "We have had a great car all week," Earnhardt said. "I'm so glad to be able to get through the Duel in one piece, because I know how good this race car is. We have a couple more practices to go through and try to stay out of trouble during those and put this thing on the grid. We're going to have a fun day on Sunday. "We had to do a lot of blocking there at the end, but those guys were mounting some pretty hard charges. We made a lot of good moves tonight because the car is so good. TJ Majors (spotter) deserves a ton of credit for helping us win that race tonight. He called a great spotting job up on top of the hill there. He gave me all the information I needed to make the moves I needed to kind of keep them guys behind me." Joey Logano came home third, followed by Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer, whose fifth-place finish in a backup car represented a stroke of good fortune during an otherwise star-crossed week at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. The real drama in the first Duel, however, took place behind the frontrunners, as Landon Cassill (ninth), Cole Whitt (10th), Michael McDowell (12th), JJ Yeley (13th), Michael Annett (14th) and Ty Dillon (16th) all earned starting spots in the 500. McDowell made the most dramatic move, forcing his way up the middle and racing from the tail end of the field to 12th place on the final lap. "When I crossed that white flag (to start the last lap) I was thinking, 'I have to do this. I don't know what we're gonna do, I don't know how we're gonna do it, but we've just got to do it,'" McDowell said. "You can't make these cars go faster. I had a run that was building and there wasn't a gap and I made a gap. "I tore up both sides of the race car in the process of doing it and had to block some people, and probably upset a few people along the way, but this race is so important for us to make…" WATCH: Bayne involved in late wreck For Johnson, the win in the second Duel was a continuation of a week that couldn’t have gone better. "It's a special night," Johnson said. "What a race car. I'm stoked for my teammate ( Dale Earnhardt Jr .) to win the first Duel. We won the second, and Jeff (Gordon) and I have the front row locked down. It's been an awesome week for all our Hendrick Motorsports cars. "I'm just happy to start out the week like we have." On Lap 57 of the second Duel, Patrick spun in Turn 3 after Hamlin made a move to her inside in very close quarters. "I mean, we're superspeedway racing," Hamlin said, after he and Patrick went their separate ways. "I treat her as equal as anyone on the race track. She deserves her spot here, but you have to be able to run close to somebody on a superspeedway. You have to have your car stable enough to handle those situations and, to me, it's not much different than what it was with the 22 (Joey Logano) and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) last week (in the Sprint Unlimited) - only I wasn't pushing her. "I was just close to her and her car got loose and she spun. Thank goodness she got her way in the 500. I didn't want to be responsible for that. I treat her as an equal on the race track. I'm not going to say, 'It's Danica, so I've got to make sure I just leave some extra room.' If you're out here in the Cup Series, you have to be able to handle those situations." MORE: See all the Paint Schemes for the Daytona 500 Patrick wasn't buying it. "I'm confident other cars get very close, and things like that don't happen," said Patrick, who finished 10th after Busch propelled her through the field. "Done thousands of miles of this speedway racing now, and I haven't found that to be a problem. So I just think that he's wrong. "I think that he's too close. I think that he's taking the air and getting it off the spoiler, and he's not squared up either. That's also part of the problem. I don't know. Maybe he likes my left rear." Notes: Ty Dillon qualified for his first Daytona 500, as did Ryan Blaney, who will pilot the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford. … Six drivers failed to qualify: Ron Hornaday Jr ., Josh Wise, Jeb Burton, Justin Marks, Alex Bowman and Brian Scott. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and others talk about trying to win the DAYTONA 500.
Both cars fail post-qualifying inspection at Daytona Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Vote: Ultimate Daytona Challenge MORE: Lineup for the Daytona Duels DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . and Denny Hamlin had their qualifying times for next week's Daytona 500 (Feb. 22, FOX, 1 pm ET) disallowed Sunday when their respective entries failed post-qualifying technical inspection at Daytona International Speedway. According to NASCAR officials, Earnhardt Jr .'s Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet failed to meet the minimum height, measuring too low on the left front. As a result, he will start 25th in the first of two qualifying races scheduled for Thursday. Before the infraction, Earnhardt was scheduled to start fifth in the second race. With no on-track activity scheduled until Wednesday, Earnhardt was one of several drivers to return home following qualifying. But upon hearing of the measurement issue, he took to social media to note "That's a shame. The boys will figure out why. Makes the duels a lot more interesting." Ride height minimums for the Sprint Cup Series are only required when teams are competing at Daytona and Talladega where restrictor plates are required. Greg Ives, making his first official appearance as Earnhardt's crew chief, said that NASCAR officials "did their due diligence of allowing us to go through their processes of how they deal with it. "In the end we still ended up low. It's unfortunate. ... We were definitely not trying to do anything intentional here. "I don't feel it was an advantage that got us to our 10th-place position, but it is definitely something that can be frowned upon and not looked at as being compliant to the rules." Hamlin's transgression was an issue with the split on his Toyota's track bar, which exceeded the maximum 3.0 inches allowed by three-quarters of an inch. As a result, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, who was scheduled to start second in the first of Thursday's two qualifying races, will start 24th in the second race instead. Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were first and second Sunday to lock in the front row for the 500. Thursday's Budweiser Duel qualifying races (60 laps each) will determine positions 3-32 with the remainder of the field decided via qualifying times and owner points. RELATED: Who's in for the Daytona 500? Thursday's opening qualifying race is scheduled for a 7 p.m. ET start (FOX Sports 1). MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dale Earnhardt Jr . talks about the changes in qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Daytona International Speedway, the anniversary of his father's passing, and makes a Powerball prediction for tonight.
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Dale Earnhardt Jr . talks about his confidence for back-to-back Daytona 500 wins.
Junior: 'We're gonna win this race' RELATED: 40 pictures of Dale Jr . on his 40th birthday CONCORD, N.C. -- Feeling good on his 40th birthday, Dale Earnhardt Jr . called his shot in a televised interview after Friday's first practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway . "We're gonna win this race. I've got a really good feeling about it," Earnhardt Jr . said. Earnhardt Jr . was 11th in the practice session at 188.633 mph and will line up ninth in Saturday night's Bank of America 500 (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC). Despite being winless at Charlotte in 29 points starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Earnhardt Jr . has been optimistic about his chances to win the race throughout the week. "I'm really excited, actually," Earnhardt Jr . told the media on Thursday. "I was thrilled with how we ran last weekend. Super-fast car, this place is a bit similar. "We obviously know what the situation is with the points and how important it is for us to come in here and win the race. I have been winless at Charlotte in a points-paying race since I started my career, so it's bound to happen sooner or later. I always win at the weirdest times, in the oddest circumstances. So I feel like everything is lining up and feel real good about this weekend." On the season, Earnhardt Jr . has three wins, 11 top-fives and 17 top-10s. He finished 19th here in the spring in the Coca-Cola 600 and has not recorded a top-five finish at the track since 2008. Earnhardt Jr . led 45 laps at Kansas and was running the best he had in the Chase before a cut tire derailed his day and led to a 39th-place finish. With two races remaining in the Contender Round, Earnhardt Jr . is 11th in the standings and 25 points back of the final transfer spot to the Eliminator Round. A Chase driver must be in the top eight in points or have a win to advance to that round. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
After four wins in 2014, can Junior do even more with new crew chief? RELATED: Complete schedule for driver previews Team: Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet Rank in final 2014 standings: Eighth Wins: 4 ( Daytona International Speedway in February; Pocono Raceway in June and August; Martinsville Speedway in October) Year in photos: Recap Earnhardt Jr .'s 2014 season Strides: Earnhardt's eighth-place points finish was his third top-10 result in the past four seasons and his four wins was the most since 2004. He won for the first time in his career at Pocono, where he swept both events, and at Martinsville. The two Pocono victories marked his first sweep at a track since Talladega in '02. The Martinsville win upped his career win total to 23 and was especially gratifying. "This is so special," Earnhardt Jr . said of the Martinsville win. "I try not to get too caught up in the emotion of it because it's a team deal, but this is very personal and very special to me to be able to win here." Earnhardt Jr . qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup for the seventh time. In addition to the breakthrough wins at Pocono and Martinsville, he managed personal bests at Darlington where he was runner-up, and Sonoma where a third-place run was his first career top-10 on the California road course. He equaled his best finish at Las Vegas (second) for the third time in his career. Setbacks: Earnhardt Jr .'s struggles in the Contender Round saw his title hopes end early as he had finishes of 20th or worse at Kansas, Charlotte and Talladega. Needing a victory to keep his championship hopes alive in the Contender Round finale at Talladega, where he has five career wins, Earnhardt Jr . was involved in a late-race accident that relegated him to a 31st-place finish. The 2014 season was also the first since 2009 that Earnhardt Jr . failed to win at least one Coors Light Pole Award. Quoteworthy: "I expect the cars to have more speed eventually; it may take us a couple of races or a couple of months to get there but I think our cars will be faster and give us an opportunity to run better (in 2015)." What's next: Besides a few changes among those going over the wall on race day, Earnhardt Jr . will have a new crew chief in Greg Ives and a new car chief in Travis Mack. Ives, who guided Chase Elliott to the 2014 XFINITY (formerly Nationwide ) Series title, steps in for Steve Letarte while Mack (Elliott's car chief) replaces Jason Burdett. The return of engineer Kevin Meendering to the No. 88 team is expected to help smooth the transitions. "That's going to help a ton," Earnhardt Jr . said, "because Kevin has all this information on what's worked with me. All drivers like things a little different. So Kevin's going to be real influential in getting Greg up to speed." While he won't rule out the possibility of a few rough spots as the team comes together, Earnhardt Jr . said he isn't worried. "I don't know that we will struggle," he said. "I expect us to come out and be competitive. By midseason I expect us to be a better race team than we were last year. "I think Greg is a talented crew chief. He has many advantages that will make us a better team. Steve was the strategist, one of the best guys on the box when it came to strategies, fuel mileage and stuff like that. It's too soon to tell exactly where we are there. Greg's been running in the Nationwide Series for a couple of years and their strategies are kind of mapped out already because of the tire rule and so forth. You can't really pull a lot of little levers and get things done, get crazy. … "But I know the engineering side is getting stronger because of Greg's history as an engineer." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Multiple over-the-wall changes for No. 88 team Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live It's a year of change for Dale Earnhardt Jr . In addition to the primary sponsor change -- Nationwide Insurance -- and new crew chief with Greg Ives, fans will see different pit crew members going over the wall for Dale Jr . in 2015. Nevertheless, the No. 88 crew is keeping the changes within the Hendrick Motorsports family. Former No. 88 fueler Dustin Lineback returns to his old ride in 2015, filling the vacant front tire carrier position. He'll be carrying tires for front tire changer David Mayo, who has pitted with both the No. 48 and 88 teams in the past. Longtime rear tire changer Joe Slingerland returns to his familiar post for 2015. He'll be aided by rear tire carrier William "Rowdy" Harrell, who served as a No. 48/88 backup in 2014. Current fueler Matt Tyrrell will remain with the No. 88 team this season, as well as jackman Nick Covey. These pit crew members will receive their first test of the season when they travel down to Daytona International Speedway for the annual Speedweeks, which culminates with the Daytona 500 on Feb. 22 (1 p.m. ET, FOX). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dale Jr . wins Myers Brothers Award, Harvick earns seven honors DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.– In recognition of his career achievements as a champion driver, team owner and philanthropist, Dale Earnhardt Jr . was named the recipient of the 2014 NMPA Myers Brothers Award, a prestigious accolade recognizing those who have made outstanding contributions to the sport of stock car racing. "This doesn't even seem real," said an emotional Earnhardt after receiving the honor at the 2014 NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon held at Wynn Las Vegas. "The truth is obviously I’m extremely humbled by this award, but I feel like I share it on so many levels - my sister Kelley ( Earnhardt Miller) along with everyone at JR Motorsports is as deserving of this as anyone. I have a lot of passions with NASCAR, but I wouldn't be able to know how to make them realities without all those folks." An accomplished driver, evidenced by his 23 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories and two NASCAR Nationwide Series championships, Earnhardt was cited just as much for his achievements outside his No. 88 Chevrolet, namely as the owner of JR Motorsports and a tireless community benefactor. This season, JR Motorsports driver Chase Elliott became the youngest competitor to win a NASCAR national series championship after clinching the 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series title. The 18-year-old will likely join Brad Keselowski , Aric Almirola , Danica Patrick and Cole Whitt as Sprint Cup regulars who have developed under Earnhardt full time at the Nationwide level. In addition to his Nationwide Series program, Earnhardt contributes to racing at its grassroots levels, fielding Late Model or Street Stock cars since founding JR Motorsports. His Late Model drivers Josh Berry and William Byron finished first and second, respectively, this season in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Hickory Motor Speedway. Earnhardt's work extends off the track into the community. He has made 235 appearances on behalf of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a number that ranks in the top five among professional athletes. Furthermore, his Dale Jr . Foundation raised $913,000 to be distributed to more than 70 different charities. "I'm just as proud of what we've accomplished there as anything we've ever done on the race track," Earnhardt said about his foundation. The NMPA Myers Brothers Award has been presented annually since 1958 in the names of pioneer NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers and its winner is chosen by a vote of the National Motorsports Press Association. Past recipients are a virtual who's-who of the industry – drivers, owners, track operators, sponsors and members of the media – and include nearly every current member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Seventeen other awards were given out at the luncheon, spanning from achievements in marketing, performance on the track and exemplary work in the garage. 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick garnered seven honors, including the 3M Lap Leader Award and Mobil 1 Driver of the Year. "This is really the first time I've gotten to stand up here and actually realize what we've accomplished," Harvick said. "Thank you to everyone who has participated in making our sport what it is." Here is the complete list of Thursday’s award winners from the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon: • NMPA Myers Brothers Award: Dale Earnhardt Jr . • Buddy Shuman Award: Bill Joyner, Sunoco’s Manager of Automotive Events • NASCAR Marketing Achievement Award: Toyota • 3M Lap Leader Award: Kevin Harvick • American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Kevin Harvick • Coors Light Pole Award: Brad Keselowski • Duralast Brakes “Brake in the Race” Award: Kevin Harvick • Freescale “Wide Open” Award: Kevin Harvick • Goodyear Tires Award: Kevin Harvick • MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year Award: Billy Davis, Hendrick Engines No. 4 team • Mechanix Wear Most Valuable Pit Crew Award: Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team • Mobil 1 Driver of the Year Award: Kevin Harvick • MOOG Steering & Suspension Problem Solver of the Year Award: Luke Lambert, crew chief No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team • Sherwin-Williams Fastest Lap Award: Matt Kenseth • Sunoco Diamond Performance Award: Kevin Harvick • Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award: Kyle Larson • Champion Sponsor Award: Budweiser • Champion Crew Chief: Rodney Childers Champion’s Week will conclude tomorrow with the following events (all times local PT unless noted): Friday, Dec. 5 • Pit Pass Check-In: Beginning Wednesday, Dec. 3, fans can pick up a Pit Pass at NASCAR fan headquarters, Champion’s Week Live at The LINQ Promenade, and start checking in at various locations around the city where NASCAR partners will feature displays, including show cars. Running from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. each day, check-in locations include Tropicana (Ford), Treasure Island (Daytona International Speedway, Phoenix International Raceway and Auto Club Speedway ), Paris Las Vegas (Las Vegas Motor Speedway), Caesars Palace (Chevrolet), Lagasse Stadium at The Palazzo (Toyota), and Excalibur (Mechanix Wear). • 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards: This black-tie celebration will be held at Wynn Las Vegas, where the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion driver and owner and the other Chase drivers will be honored. The drivers and stars will walk the Red Carpet from 4 – 5 p.m. and NASCAR.com will live stream the arrivals from 4:30 – 5 p.m. FOX Sports 1 will air the show live beginning at 9 p.m. ET. Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will begin coverage at 8 p.m. ET. • Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Reveal: The Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award will be given to one dedicated NASCAR fan who has made a profound impact on children in his or her community. The NASCAR Foundation will announce the national award winner during this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards. Fans can cast their vote for the 2014 Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award winner by visiting www.NASCAR.com/Award before 11:59 p.m. ET on Dec. 4. For more information on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week in Las Vegas, visit www.NASCAR.com/ChampionsWeek . MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView