Jeff Gordon holds off Jimmie Johnson to win a great battle at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2011.
Six-time champion bounced back for fifth-place finish at Daytona SHOP: Buy Daytona 500 gear RELATED: Get full race results " Series standings DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR installed a new pit road officiating system for the 2015 season designed to increase safety and add extra levels of technological precision to ensure teams were being held fully accountable for their in-race actions. In Sunday's 57th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in the first full-field NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race under the new format, plenty of teams were hit with penalties detected by the new system -- including the typically flawless No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports crew for six-time champion Jimmie Johnson . PHOTOS: Get an inside look at the new pit road technology On Lap 87, NASCAR hit the 48 team with a pass-through penalty for an infraction of having a crew member over the wall too soon, one of six teams hit during that round of green-flag stops. The only problem? Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus had no idea what they'd done wrong. "NASCAR … I would appreciate an explanation," Knaus asked over the 48 team radio. "We do not know what we did wrong." After serving the penalty, the 48 car stood in 35th place -- the last car on the lead lap. Johnson had plenty of race left to make up the track position lost -- he ultimately finished fifth -- but the Hendrick Motorsports driver really needed to battle on the 2.5-mile superspeedway to get back to the front of the pack. "(It made our day) more difficult," Johnson said. "To almost lose a lap and then come back and have to start dead last and climb my way up through the middle, I took a lot of risks to get up there. We did have to work a lot today." The biggest issue that Johnson and Knaus had with the penalty was that despite their efforts to contact NASCAR through the radio, they said no response was given -- the two still were in the dark as to what happened and why they were penalized long after the checkered flag fell in favor of race-winner Joey Logano. In essence, the penalties could've kept happening for the 48 team and they wouldn't have known how to correct them, Johnson said. "We couldn't get clarification on why we were penalized, so in order for us to make a correction for the other three or four stops, we didn't know what to do," Johnson said. "We just kind of went back to doing our thing like we had been and fortunately there were no more penalties. "We'll get clarification (from NASCAR) as the week develops. It'd be nice to know during the race so we can make an adjustment." As far as if Knaus plans on reaching out to NASCAR officials for an explanation of what went wrong prior to the Sprint Cup Series' next race, the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, FOX), the longtime 48 pit boss said "I'm sure at some point (we will)." 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
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
Jimmie Johnson takes the checkered flag in the second Budweiser Duel at Daytona.
Jimmie Johnson celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the second race of the Budweiser Duel at Daytona.
Jimmie Johnson talks about the importance of controlling the final restart to win the second race of the Budweiser Duel at Daytona.
Get caught up before Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX) Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live What: 56th annual Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 . Where : Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1.54-mile oval in Hampton, Georgia. When: Sunday, March 1 p.m. ET. TV/Radio: FOX, PRN. Distance: 325 laps; 500.5 miles . Pit road speed: 45 mph . Caution car speed: 55 mph. Fuel window: 50-55 laps. On the front row " Starting lineup 1. Joey Logano, Team Penske No. 22 Ford. 2. Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet. Fastest in practice First practice: Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet (192.989 mph). " Full results Final practice: Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (191.054 mph). " Full results To the rear: Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet (engine change); Michael Annett, Circle Sport Racing No. 33 Chevrolet (driver change) Driver rating (Best driver rating average at Atlanta based on the past nine years, minimum 5 starts): Jeff Gordon, 106.0 Jimmie Johnson , 104.9 Last year's winner: Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet. Strange things: Between Travis Kvapil's stolen -- and then found -- No. 44 Sprint Cup Series ride, Denny Hamlin's motorcoach backed into by a runaway llama SUV, Rodney Childers' tow vehicle being the victim of a hit-and-run and who knows what else, Atlanta has gotten off to a strange start. Considering this is the race that saw a cat and/or squirrel run in front of Kevin Harvick on the track, there's no telling what could happen in Sunday's event. On a roll to the pole: Joey Logano, your Daytona 500 winner, backed up his first victory in the Great American Race by coming out strong in qualifying at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Team Penske driver earned the Coors Light Pole Award for both the Sprint Cup Series and XFINITY Series races. AMS has given Logano headaches in the past, but it appears he finally has a handle on the 1.54-mile speedway. Qualifying … or not: Plenty of big name drivers will be working their way up through the field after they failed to make it through technical inspection ahead of Coors Light Pole Award qualifying. With Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart -- not to mention Kevin Harvick, who will start from the rear for an engine change -- we'll see some fast, intense racing from the get-go as drivers fight their way through the field. They said it I: "This is a very rare occasion. This is the first one I have ever had. The engine shop does a great job. I am just glad that it happened today. Our Jimmy John's/Budweiser team is doing a great job and the car is handling good. If we were going to have something happen, this is a good place to have it happen because you can pass. … It will just make for a better show." -- Kevin Harvick on his blown engine They said it II: "Hopefully, we'll finish where we start. It's been an amazing few weeks if you think about the Daytona 500 and everything that comes along with that, and then coming down here to Atlanta and starting first is special, especially for me here at this race track. I remember sitting in the corner and watching drivers up here talking about their qualifying run and racing Legends cars out front here for years, so there are a lot of memories here. You guys see the picture over there (in the Media Center) when you walk in with David (Ragan) and Reed (Sorenson) when we were young and racing here. Obviously, anything to be in Victory Lane here; it's a very special place for me. I don't know what's going on lately. Everything is going well and we're just trying to keep the old train rolling here. It's going great and we'll see what happens on Sunday." -- Joey Logano They said it III: "I don't think she is interested in being a celebrity. I think that she enjoyed the moments of celebrity that she has gotten. Who doesn't like some attention? I think that for her it's more of kids telling her at school. Being seven and eight years old that well you are not going to be on TV anymore after this year. I think that sort of took her back. But it's been a good life lesson trying to teach her how to handle those types of situations." -- Jeff Gordon on daughter Ella Sofia, who received a Bandolero car from AMS to share with her brother Leo Former Atlanta winners in the field: Jeff Gordon (5); Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart (3); Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick (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
Gordon, Stewart, Kenseth and Johnson among those that couldn't get out Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live WATCH: Richard Buck explains inspection process HAMPTON, Ga. – Daytona 500 champion Joey Logano won the pole for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race here at Atlanta Motor Speedway (1 p.m. ET, FOX). Thirteen others didn't fare quite so well, never getting the opportunity to make a lap on the 1.54-mile track as Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 got underway. RELATED: Logano wins Coors Light Pole Award " Qualifying speeds Originally scheduled to begin at 5:45 p.m. ET, the start of qualifying for the season's second race was postponed 15 minutes due to the large number of cars still going through the pre-qualifying technical inspection process. According to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series director Richard Buck, when officials gave notice that qualifying was underway, all 47 cars entered in the race had made at least one pass through inspection. "We did see the area of the laser inspection station where teams were pushing it," Buck said. "And that's their job. They're trying to get every bit that they can. "Our goal is to make sure everybody has a fair opportunity to get through there. Our focus was to make sure that we were able to run every car across there at least once … and that's what we did." Former series champions Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson , Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth were among those that didn't make it on track before the completion of the opening 15-minute qualifying round. "Yes we are pushing the limits," Gordon said, "but there is something wrong here. I'm embarrassed; I'm embarrassed for our series right now that this just happened." PHOTOS: Full starting lineup for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 Kenseth said he got an inkling that something was amiss when he headed out to pit road and saw "only 14 cars." "So I have a hard time believing it was the teams," the Joe Gibbs Racing driver said. Stewart took to Twitter to vent about what happened. I don't know what to say about today. Spent all of our practice working on qualifying. Didn't even get a chance to make a lap. Frustrating! — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) February 27, 2015 If we would have known this was going to happen, we could have worked on the race setup. Was a total waste of a day at the track — Tony Stewart (@TonyStewart) February 27, 2015 This weekend's Sprint Cup Series race is the first featuring the 2015 rules package, a package that includes less downforce on the cars and less horsepower under the hood, along with several other changes. As such, it was the first time teams made the trip through an official pre-qualifying inspection. Buck said it became evident all teams wouldn't be able to be through inspection in time for the original 5:45 p.m. start, which is why it was delayed for 15 minutes. "We could see the trend starting to develop … our job was to try and work with the teams (and) allow them to meet the parameters, the rules we set in place," he said. "So we were able to push it 15 minutes to give them as much time as we could." Defending series champion Kevin Harvick qualified second, while Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards completed the top five. Mike Wallace, Matt DiBenedetto, Michael Annett and Reed Sorenson failed to qualify. MORE: Strange things afoot at Atlanta Motor Speedway Johnson , a six-time series champion, will start 37th. "We are at a track that's very forgiving from a starting position standpoint," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. "If you have a good race car, you've got a lot of room here, you can run anywhere on the track and get your way to the front. (There will be) a lot of trips down pit road for tires. We'll have plenty of opportunities to get there. … "I think we're all standing here in shock, wondering how did this happen?" Buck said the number of cars having to make multiple trips through the inspection line was nearly double what the sanctioning body sees during a typical weekend. "Today we had at least 20 (go back through)," he said. "We had more cars here than we've had. "A new downforce package, new rules package, new under pan, less horsepower, and so there was a lot of things that were put into this recipe that the cooks, if you will, in the garage area were trying to get the recipe right, and they were pushing the edge on everything." Gordon will start 35th, Kenseth 36th and Stewart 39th. To determine the full 43-car starting lineup, positions 1-34 went to those drivers that posted at least one official qualifying lap. Positions 35-43 were assigned to those entered based on 2014 final championship driver points standings. 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
Daytona 500 winner and runner-up will line up 1-2 at Atlanta RELATED: Full race lineup " Photos of the full 43-car field HAMPTON, Ga. -- When you're hot, you're hot. Joey Logano, last week's Daytona 500 winner, didn't slow down one iota on Friday in the first competition of the year at an open-motor track. With a lap at 194.683 mph in the final round of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series knockout qualifying at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Logano put his No. 22 Team Penske Ford on the pole for Sunday's Fold of Honor QuikTrip 500 (1 p.m. ET on FOX). Logano toured the 1.54-mile intermediate speedway in 28.477 seconds, .131 seconds faster than the lap at 193.793 mph posted by reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick. Jamie McMurray was third fastest at 193.623 mph. Denny Hamlin (193.400 mph) qualified fourth for the second race of the season, followed by new Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards (193.137 mph). Like Logano, Jeff Gordon was hot, but for a completely different reason. Gordon was one of 13 drivers whose car failed to clear inspection before time trials began, even though NASCAR delayed the start of qualifying for 15 minutes. Accordingly, Gordon was not allowed to make a qualifying attempt in the first round. The list of those who failed to pass pre-qualifying inspection included three other past champions: Jimmie Johnson , Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart. Logano and his team, on the other hand, did everything right. And he defied conventional wisdom on a track with old pavement that typically abrades tires. Logano posted his fastest lap of the session in the third and final round. "Our first run today in practice, we were faster on our second run on scuffs, so I knew that the grip would stay in the tires for at least two runs," said Logano, who won his first Coors Light Pole Award at Atlanta and the ninth of his career. "I didn't know about the third run, but apparently the third run also… "It was probably right at the limit, though. Probably the next run after that, it would have taken a pretty big jump down." Though Harvick qualified second, he believes he'll have a strong long-run car in Sunday’s race. Even so, Harvick felt he left some speed out on the race track. "I just did a bad job," he said. "In Round 1 I missed Turn 1, and in the last round, I missed Turn 1 again and just didn't get to the bottom like I needed to in order to get back in the throttle." Note: Mike Wallace, Matt DiBenedetto, Michael Annett and Reed Sorenson failed to qualify for Sunday's race. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today
Jimmie Johnson talks about learning from last year and what he can improve on in 2015.