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Snapshot: Daytona Duels
Get caught up before tonight's non-points races (7 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live What: 57th annual Budweiser Duels at Daytona qualifying races. Where: Daytona International Speedway, 2.5-mile tri-oval in Daytona Beach, Florida. When: Thursday, Feb. 19; 7 p.m. ET (Duel 1), Approx. 8:30 p.m.ET (Duel 2). TV/Radio: FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Distance: 60 laps; 150 miles (Two races). Pit road speed: 55 mph Caution car speed: 70 mph Fuel window: 34 laps On the front row: Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole winner Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth will start on the front row of the first duel. Outside Daytona 500 pole winner Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch will start on the front row of the second duel. " See tonight's full lineups On the line: The top 15 finishers (not including Gordon and Johnson) from each duel will fill out the top-30 starting positions in Sunday's Daytona 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX). The rest of the 43-car starting field will be filled according to Daytona 500 qualifying times from Sunday, owner's points and NASCAR provisional starting position rules. Fastest in practice Practice 1: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford (202.643 mph). " Practice results Practice 2: Michael McDowell, Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Ford (199.322 mph). " Practice results Practice 3: Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (200.776 mph). " Practice results Practice 4: Alex Bowman, Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 7 Chevrolet (200.495 mph). " Practice results Practice 5: Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet (192.699 mph). " Practice results Last year's winners : Matt Kenseth (Duel 1) and Denny Hamlin (Duel 2) completed a Joe Gibbs Racing sweep History lesson: Interestingly, a qualifying race winner has gone on to win the Daytona 500 only eight times in 56 years. Last year's Daytona 500 champ Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the last to win both a Duel and the 500 -- doing so in 2004. His father Dale Earnhardt accomplished the feat in 1998. Cale Yarborough is the only driver to do it multiple times (1977 and 1984). Through the field: Several regular Daytona front-runners will have their work cut out tonight. Defending Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin -- who posted the third fastest time in the final qualifying round -- will have to start from the rear of their respective fields after having their qualifying times disallowed. Former Daytona 500 pole winner Danica Patrick has had to go to a back-up car after being involved in a four-car crash during practice on Wednesday. " WATCH: Danica's car destroyed They said it: "You don't want to tear the car up, but the goal is to go out there and win the race. It just feels wrong to worry more about keeping the car in one piece than winning an event. You're in that event to compete and to win. If we were locked in the front row, we might have a different opinion about that. But we're not.'' -- Three-time Duel winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Despite early Duels exit, Mears makes Daytona 500
Driver of the No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet gets into the 43-car field Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Buy Daytona 500 gear RELATED: Daytona 500 starting lineup DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Casey Mears' hopes for making his 11th Daytona 500 start turned murky in a cloud of smoke early during Thursday night's Budweiser Duels . When the smoke lifted from all the crashes in both 150-mile qualifiers, Mears' murky future became clear -- he's in. Mears was among the biggest names in limbo for the 43-car field in Sunday's Great American Race (1 p.m. ET, FOX), the season opener for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Engine failure after just 17 laps in the opening 60-lap race sidelined the 36-year-old veteran, who finished 26th in last year's final standings. "I don't have any thoughts right now other than everything's bad," a dejected Mears said after his early exit. "The nature of this place has been really good to us in the past, and obviously when something like this happens you just feel so helpless. It's really out of your control. You want a fighting chance." Those left on the outside of the elite group of 43: Alex Bowman, Jeb Burton, Ron Hornaday Jr., Justin Marks, Brian Scott and Josh Wise -- each of whom endured their own brand of heartache on a cold Thursday night in Florida. After the first race, Mears joined AJ Allmendinger, Johnny Sauter and others in tense moments of scoreboard-watching in the second Duel race, waiting to see if their body of work in Speedweeks would be enough to make the main event. Allmendinger, a qualifier for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs last year, wound up with enough stature in the team owner points to advance; Sauter -- 12th in Sunday's qualifying (after Hamlin's time was disallowed), but with a team 41st in owner points last season -- made the race on the basis of his qualifying speed. WATCH: Sauter, Allmendinger involved in wreck Mears was mired in the thick of a dense pack with the opening 60-lap qualifier barely a quarter of the way in, riding the high line in hopes of clinching a starting berth. Just past the start-finish line, the engine in the Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet went south with a hole in the oil pan, the car smoking steadily as he lost power. By the time the car was pushed back to the garage, Mears seemed resigned to going home early though two-thirds of the race remained. He wound up with a last-place result in the 25-car field. With just a 28th-fastest lap from last Sunday's qualifying and the team's 26th-place position in the 2014 standings to fall back on, it was close to not being enough. "There's so many things that are so cool about this race track, yet there's so many things that are out of your control," Mears said. "When we have something like this happen, it's difficult any way it happens. It doesn't look good, obviously. I'm guessing we're going home unless something major happens in the second race or something happens in this one. I don't even know what to say. It just rips your heart out. "We're so good at these places, yet these are the places that anything can happen, and anything happened tonight." Sauter took the worst of his collision with Allmendinger in the 2.5-mile track's trioval, despite taking it easy in the first half of the race. "I just was riding along on the top side there, just trying to mind my own business," Sauter said. "We were in a tight spot there going back to qualifying, if you're in on speed or not. We deliberated about it all week, just do we try to be conservative, do we try to race. I thought I was doing everything right, just hanging out in the top groove." 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
Earnhardt Jr., Johnson win Daytona Duels
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
Harvick Talks About Winning The First Budweiser Duel at Daytona
Kevin Harvick talks about winning the first Budweiser Duel at the Daytona International Speedway
Start times for Daytona Speedweeks events set
See the schedule for when NASCAR's national series will kick off in 2015 RELATED: Buy tickets for the Daytona 500 " Buy tickets for other Daytona events Daytona International Speedway released start times Friday for its 2015 Speedweeks slate of events, including a 1 p.m. ET start for the sixth straight year for the 57th running of the crown jewel Daytona 500 on Feb. 22. The start times include no major deviations from the 2014 schedule at the 2.5-mile Florida track. The most significant change is a move for the NASCAR XFINITY Series season opener to 3:30 p.m. ET; last year's first event was scheduled for a 1:15 p.m. ET start. All events will be televised on the FOX family of networks. RELATED: Video preview of 2015 season IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule will get underway Jan. 24 at 2:10 p.m. ET with the 53rd Rolex 24 endurance race (FOX Sports, IMSA.com), the kickoff event for Budweiser Speedweeks. NASCAR racing activity is scheduled to begin Saturday, Feb. 14 with the annual Sprint Unlimited non-points event for the Sprint Cup Series, starting at 8:15 p.m. ET (FOX). The field for the Daytona 500 will be set through Coors Light Pole Qualifying on Sunday, Feb. 15 (1:30 p.m. ET, FOX) and the Budweiser Duel at Daytona qualifying races Thursday (7 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). This year, pole qualifying will adopt the knockout-style, group format that was used at every Sprint Cup race except the Daytona 500 last season. The two 150-mile qualifiers will be run at night for the second consecutive year. The season-opening events for all three NASCAR national series kick off Friday night with the Camping World Truck Series' NextEra Energy Resources 250 (7 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), continue with Saturday's debut of the newly named XFINITY Series and its Alert Today Florida 300 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) and culminating with Sunday's main event, the Daytona 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX). Speedweeks will also offer fans a preview of portions of the Daytona Rising project, with 40,000 new seats available on the track's west side along the short chute to Turn 1. Start times for 2015 Speedweeks events at Daytona (all times Eastern) Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 24-25 -- IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Rolex 24 At Daytona, 2:10 p.m. (FOX Sports and IMSA.com) Saturday, Feb. 14 -- ARCA Racing Series, Lucas Oil 200 Presented By American Real MAV TV, 4:15 p.m. (FOX Sports 1); NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, The Sprint Unlimited , 8:15 p.m. (FOX) Sunday, Feb. 15 -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Daytona 500 Coors Light Pole Qualifying Presented By Kroger, 1:30 p.m. (FOX) Thursday, Feb. 19 -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Budweiser Duel At Daytona, 7 p.m. (FOX Sports 1) Friday, Feb. 20 -- NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NextEra Energy Resources 250 , 7:30 p.m. (FOX Sports 1) Saturday, Feb. 21 -- NASCAR XFINITY Series, Alert Today Florida 300, 3:30 p.m. (FOX Sports 1) Sunday, Feb. 22 -- NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Daytona 500 , 1 p.m. ET (FOX). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Mission accomplished for No. 48/88 shop
Jimmie Johnson tells NASCAR.com that this might be the best four cars Hendrick Motorsports has ever brought to Daytona after winning the second Budweiser Duel at Daytona.
Engine failures plague HMS-related teams
Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewat and Danica Patrick suffer from engine failures during practice and will have to start in the back of their respective Budweiser Duels .
Recap: Duels shake up Daytona 500 lineup
Jonathan Merryman recaps the Can-Am Duels , where a last-lap crash breaks up the Daytona 500 front row and small teams become the ‘underdog’ stories of Speedweeks.
Daytona GarageCam prepares for the Duels
GarageCam host Matthew Dillner takes you around the garage at Daytona International Speedway as the drivers of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series prepare for the Can-Am Duels and the Daytona 500.
Drafting 101: Chase Elliott's crash-free course in Duels
MORE: Full starting lineup for 500 RELATED: Can-Am Duel 1 results " Photos from Duels DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Chase Elliott 's first taste of Daytona 500 qualifying racing Thursday night ended well with the 20-year-old rookie securing a sixth-place finish in the first of two Can-Am Duel events. The Daytona 500 pole-winner led the first two laps of the race before eventual race winner -- and Elliott's Hendrick Motorsports teammate -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . took control leading all but 27 of the 60 laps. Elliott expected it would be a learning experience -- a high speed lesson in speedway drafting with the big kids. And it certainly proved to be. "Just a lot of things learned for me, got into a few positions, had a few things happen that I should have stopped before they did happen," Elliott said. "The top was pretty dominant, I feel like whatever lane Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) was in, was moving forward fast. He does a good job working the air and that was something I struggled with." Elliott spoke at length with his crew on pit road after climbing out of his No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet after the race. This year's version of Speedweeks is simultaneously a learning experience and a high-profile opportunity for the promising young talent. Elliott, son of NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Bill Elliott , has taken over the driver's seat of just-retired Jeff Gordon 's famed No. 24 Chevrolet. He was well aware many eyes were on him for that reason. After becoming the youngest Daytona pole-sitter in history this past weekend, the expectations are high for the rookie. RELATED: Bill finds joy in Chase's rise in NASCAR None higher, however, than Elliott's own. Standing on pit road after the race he was still scrutinizing his performance, and speaking about learning opportunities. "We've got to be aggressive with the side-draft and keeping guys pinned down at times," Elliott explained of the lessons he learned Thursday night. "It's just being mindful of which lane is forming up ahead of time and the good guys make that happen and recognize that. "We have some areas I know we need to work on and some things I need to recognize before they happen and the good guys do that so I've got to learn. "But," he said turning around and looking at his unscathed Chevrolet, "the car's in one piece. Just got to take it and try to correct things." In addition to working with his teammates on the track, Elliott's six-time champion HMS teammate Jimmie Johnson was on the radio and stood on the pit road stand, offering assistance to his first-year Cup teammate. "Jimmie's up here; he says just make sure you block the middle," Elliott was told at one point. His veteran spotter, Eddie D'Hondt, was mindful of guiding the rookie too. "The tough part here is you just don't want to ever lose this draft. Just keep that in mind," D'Hondt told Elliott early in the event, adding a couple laps later, "So right here you're always in looking your mirror looking to block the middle. See what Kasey did ahead of you was try to side-draft Dillon. What we want to watch here is that not all of your help here bails and goes to the top and you get conga again. But they're not." Another Elliott teammate, the race winner Earnhardt, made a point to speak with the rookie before the race began and told him, "I'm not going to be helping you tonight and don't help me, don't worry about where I'm at. "Do everything you can to keep the lead, don't give the lead up. ...You've just got to be selfish." RELATED: Junior wins Can-Am Duel No. 1 Elliott said he looked forward to getting together with the group for a post-race review, but was encouraged overall and eager to put the lessons learned to use in Sunday's Daytona 500 . "The car's in one piece and we were able to bring it back all in one piece and that was a goal in itself," Elliott said. "That experience gained tonight was the most important thing and I feel good about that and I know there are some things I need to do differently an just correct for Sunday."