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Dale Jr. jumps back into familiar surroundings with plenty of speed
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! " RELATED: Junior through the years DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . didn't take any credit for his qualifying effort Sunday, a 192.864 mph lap that put his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on the front row for next week's season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway . "Ain't much to it," Earnhardt quipped. "The car does all the work." Earnhardt, twice a winner of the "Great American Race," won't be on the pole, but he'll start alongside Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott , giving the team a front-row sweep for the second time in the last three years. His previous wins in the 500 came from third (in 2004) and ninth ('14). Earnhardt is regarded as one of the best at restrictor-plate racing but qualifying is a solo effort. There are no other cars off which to pick up a push or gain an advantage. It's all about horsepower. But there's a bit of technique required as well. "The transitions are kind of important as far as feeding the car into the corner and also running as tight as you can on the apron without bouncing the skirt off the apron or giving up any speed , or just time adding feet to your lap by running high, at least a little bit, can make a big difference," he said. "But other than that, the driver, I don't think he's feeling like he's in control of too much. The car is doing most of the work." Sidelined for the last half of the 2016 season after suffering concussion-like symptoms, Earnhardt is eager to be back behind the wheel. He chose not to compete in Sunday's Advance Auto Parts Clash, instead allowing Alex Bowman to field his entry. Bowman had won the pole at Phoenix driving in relief of Earnhardt last fall, a distinction that Earnhardt said earned the driver the opportunity. But after spending "The Clash" working as an analyst in the booth for Fox Sports, Earnhardt traded in his suit and tie for a firesuit, and eased his way back into more familiar surroundings. He was second-fastest in the opening round of qualifying; Elliott ended the session atop the board. In the final round, the No. 88 went to the top of the board with only one driver, Elliott, remaining. "I certainly would have loved to have gotten a pole, but my boss man is happy," Earnhardt said of team owner Rick Hendrick. "I just talked to him on the phone and he's got to be thrilled with having his cars up front." Elliott's final-round run, a lap of 192.872 mph, gave the Dawsonville, Georgia, youngster his second consecutive Daytona 500 pole. It was the third straight No. 1 qualifying effort for his No. 24 team, which also started out front here in '15 with four-time series champion Jeff Gordon behind the wheel. "Obviously Dale is good down here, and we all knew he was going to be fast today," Elliott, 21, said. "That's no surprise. But I don't really care who it is. I'm not going to feel bad about beating somebody. "It's cool to share a front row with a teammate is really the biggest thing I look at with that. But Dale is a good guy. I'm happy to share the front row with him, but happier to beat him, obviously, but regardless of who it is, that's what you're trying to do, you know." Elliott and Earnhardt were the only two drivers to officially lock in their starting positions for next weekend's Daytona 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The remainder of the field will be determined through the Can-Am Duels, a pair of 150-lap qualifying races scheduled for Thursday evening (7 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Waltrip punches Speed
Michael Waltrip throws punches after taking issue with the driving of Lake Speed after the 1995 Miller Genuine Draft 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
Gaughan, Sadler lock spots in Daytona 500
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Veteran drivers Brendan Gaughan and Elliott Sadler secured positions in next weekend's Daytona 500 (Feb. 26, 2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) thanks to their qualifying efforts Sunday at Daytona International Speedway . Sadler and Gaughan were fastest among six drivers without secured spots in the 40-car field, guaranteeing their chance to race next weekend by virtue of their two-lap qualifying runs Sunday. Thirty-six of the 40 starting positions are secured through team charters. The other four spots on the Daytona 500 grid include the two best qualifiers among Open teams (Sadler and Gaughan), plus the top Open finisher in each of Thursday's Can-Am Duel races. The 40-year-old NASCAR veteran Gaughan secured just his second Daytona 500 starting position thanks to his speed of 189.294 mph in the No. 75 Beard Oil Distributing Chevrolet -- helping the young Beard Motorsports team to its Daytona 500 debut. The speed was 33rd overall among 42 entries, but fastest among the Open, non-Charter teams. Gaughan finished 19th in the 2004 Daytona 500 , which was his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut. It also is his only scheduled Monster Energy Series start as he will compete full time again in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for Richard Childress Racing . "This is a team that's never made a Cup race," Gaughan said. "Nice owner and very nice group of guys. You never know what will happen, but I know how hard it is to do this Cup stuff. Jay Robinson gave the owner of this race car, Mark Beard, some advice. He said, 'Go buy a speedway car and a big motor from (Earnhardt Childress Racing),' and that's exactly what he did, and then they called me to come drive it. "This man has tried six or seven times to make a race, and his first Cup race is the Daytona-freaking-500. I'm so glad to do it for him." Sadler, meanwhile, was 36th fastest overall in Tommy Baldwin Racing 's No. 7 Golden Corral Chevrolet at 188.561 mph, good for second-best among Open teams. This will be the 41-year-old Sadler's 14th Daytona 500 start. His best finish was a runner-up showing to Ward Burton in 2002. Baldwin was Burton's crew chief for the victory. "It's a good start for the week," a grinning Baldwin said. "It allows us to relax the next two or three days and just focus on the 500. We finished eighth in last year's Daytona 500 and hopefully we just stick to that plan. I've got all the notes from that." Drivers Reed Sorenson , D.J. Kennington, Corey LaJoie and Timmy Hill are vying for the final two spots in the Daytona 500 . &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
How the Can-Am Duels work, set Daytona 500 field
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Complete lineups for each Duel The Can-Am Duels are a pair of qualifying races held on Feb. 23 (starting at 7 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) that will determine the bulk of the field for the 2017 Daytona 500 (Feb. 26, 2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). NASCAR.com offers a look at how the twin qualifying races work and how they impact the Daytona 500 . Programming info for Can-Am Duels: When: Feb. 23, starting at 7 p.m. ET Where: Daytona International Speedway TV: FS1 Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio What is the format? There are two 60-lap, 150-mile races. Who is in which Duel is determined based on qualifying speeds from Sunday's single-lap qualifying runs. How do the Duels set the Daytona 500 lineup? The Duels determine who will line up in spots 3-38 on the starting grid for the "Great American Race" after Sunday's qualifying speeds saw the Hendrick Motorsports duo of Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr . earn front row spots for the 2017 Daytona 500 . Drivers in the first Duel race will line up on the inside row for the Daytona 500 (odd-numbered starting position), based on the order in which they finish the first Duel race. Drivers in the second Duel race will line up on the outside row for the Daytona 500 (even-numbered starting positions), based on the order in which they finish the second Duel race. Remember, all 36 Charter teams are guaranteed spots in the Daytona 500 . RELATED: Which teams have Charters? How can open teams make the Daytona 500 ? Two open teams will make the field based on their qualifying speed from Sunday's single-car qualifying runs. The other two open spots come from the best finishing open teams in each Duel. Should the fastest qualifying open team driver earn a spot based on his or her Duel result, then the next fastest open team would get in based on qualifying speed . Sadler and Gaughan had the fastest entries among the open teams in single-car qualifying and are locked into the Daytona 500 field. RELATED: Sadler, Gaughan lock in spots The open team entries that will battle for two Daytona 500 spots in the Duels are Timmy Hill (No. 51 Chevrolet), Reed Sorenson (No. 55 Toyota), Corey LaJoie (No. 83 Toyota) and DJ Kennington (No. 96 Toyota). How important are the Duels for drivers locked into the front row? Very important because of the race enhancements NASCAR announced last month. While a Duel win doesn't put you in the Chase, the top 10 drivers in each Duel will earn points heading into the Daytona 500 . Points for Duel results have not occurred before this year. Drivers locked into the front row need to avoid any sort of calamity to keep their starting spot. With qualifying day so early in Speedweeks and a multitude of practices over three days leading up to the Daytona 500 , wrecks resulting in backup cars, engine changes and more are all likely to pop up at some point to affect the green-flag order once on the grid. How are points awarded ? It's similar to stages in the 36 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. Meaning the winner of each Duel will get 10 points down to the 10th-place driver, who will get one point. Two drivers -- each Duel winner -- will head into the Daytona 500 with a share of the point lead.
Daytona president, Chip Wile named on SBJ's 'Forty Under 40' list
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! MORE: Closest Daytona finishes " Daytona story lines DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Chip Wile, the youngest President of Daytona International Speedway , was recognized today as a recipient of SportsBusiness Journal's (SBJ) Forty Under 40 honor. Chosen from among an initial candidate list of more than 500, Wile will receive the award on April 20 at the Forty Under 40 Gala at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California. Forty Under 40 recognizes excellence and innovation among young sports executives nationwide. MORE: Wile appointed Daytona track president " Wile accepts award "This is an incredible honor," Wile said. "I have been so blessed in my career thus far being surrounded by talented professionals who share the same passion and admiration for motorsports. As president of Daytona International Speedway , I am fortunate to work with a remarkable team both at the Speedway and ISC who have a passion and dedication for creating unparalleled experiences for our guests. It's their hard work that makes the World's Only Motorsports Stadium the most fan-friendly, hands-on experience in all of sports." Wile will embark on his first Speedweeks and Daytona 500 as President of Daytona International Speedway beginning February 18, but he led the first major motorsports event of the season and North America's most prestigious sports car race when the Rolex 24 At Daytona kicked off Jan. 28. MORE: Daytona through the years " Rolex 24 history "I have said this all along about Chip -- he brings a wealth of talent and energy to the track president position," said ISC CEO Lesa France Kennedy. "His leadership style is always to place others first -- whether his team or his community, but in all cases, the fans. I couldn't be happier for him to receive this honor." Wile spent the first 10 years of his career working with NASCAR race teams, then joined Motor Racing Network (MRN) as director of business development and just one year later, was appointed President of Darlington Raceway where he spearheaded a five-year strategy to reinvent the facility with its throwback thematic. MORE: ' 16 Darlington schemes " Darlington announces '17 throwback theme Tickets for the 2017 Daytona 500 and Speedweeks can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can also follow NASCAR on Twitter and stay up to speed on the latest news by using #DAYTONA500 and #SPEEDWEEKS. Stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Snapchat, and by downloading the Speedway's mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Hamlin, Keselowski clash at Daytona's opening weekend
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! MORE: Hamlin wears special pair of Jordans for 'The Clash' DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Brad Keselowski checked over the damage to his No. 2 Ford's right-front fender, the result of a last-lap crunch in a tense contest for the lead with Denny Hamlin 's No. 11 Toyota in the Advance Auto Parts Clash. The contact cost Keselowski a victory in a season-opening exhibition that -- despite his superspeedway acumen -- he's now 0-for-5 in. But after conferring with crew chief Paul Wolfe and expressing his dismay, he had no regrets in choosing to keep his foot on the gas -- and serving notice that in similar circumstances, he'd do it again. "It's unfortunate. I had to make the move," Keselowski said after Sunday's matinee at Daytona International Speedway . "I know all the other drivers are back watching and they know not to make that block on me again." The final-lap collision that scuttled the chances of two of the best restrictor-plate racers in the sport allowed Keselowski's Team Penske stablemate Joey Logano to scoot to a victory in a race delayed a day by persistent Saturday night rain. Neither Keselowski nor Hamlin seemed especially peeved by their own (lower-case) clash, the last of four incidents in the unofficial opener to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Both drivers started on the front row by virtue of a Friday draw. By the time the white flag flew, they were 1-2 again after combining to lead all but nine of the 75 laps. But Keselowski had an extra level of headway in the form of Logano, who finally linked up with his teammate in the waning laps to give both drivers an aerodynamic assist. The fast-closing Keselowski dipped to the low side of the track through the first and second turns, forcing Hamlin to chop-block into his path. The two cars wedged together, with Hamlin swerving into a lazy spin off course and Keselowski limping to the checkers to finish a distant sixth. "I was in a bad spot there," said Hamlin, who took 13th place in the 17-car invitational field. "He was just coming so much faster than what I was. There's not much that I could have done to defend." If nothing else, the non-points exhibition helped take a stick to the offseason cobwebs ahead of next Sunday's Daytona 500 (Feb. 26, 2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The revival of "The Clash" name brought back at least a nominal nod to history. The racing brought another reminder of the mercurial nature of the high- speed dance at the 2.5-mile track. "Yeah, you're definitely pulling all the strings, but that's the game," Keselowski said. "That's part of what the fun is. You have to be two moves ahead, like a chess game." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Chase Elliott captures back-to-back Daytona 500 poles
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Full results DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Winning back-to-back Daytona 500 poles is something of a family tradition, as Chase Elliott proved by the skin of his teeth Sunday at Daytona International Speedway . The last driver to take a lap in the second and final round of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, Elliott covered the distance in 46.663 seconds (192.872 mph) to edge Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr . by .002 seconds. The pole was the second straight for Elliott, who led the field to green last year as a Sunoco rookie. It was the third straight for Elliott's crew chief, Alan Gustafson, who won the pole with driver Jeff Gordon in 2015 in Gordon's last year as a full-time driver. With three straight poles as a crew, Gustafson shares a record previously held solely by Ernie Elliott, Chase Elliott 's uncle, who fielded cars driven by former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Bill Elliott , Chase's father. "Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has done a lot of work this off-season," said Elliott, who claimed the third Coors Light Pole Award of his career, all at restrictor-plate tracks. "This team definitely has a knack for these plate tracks, as they showed with Jeff Gordon and then last year with here and Talladega (where Elliott also won the pole). "But that stuff doesn't just happen by staying the same, as everybody knows. Everyone is always trying to get better and make their cars better and faster, and the engine shop is always finding new things. So I think that's just proof that they're improving with everybody else and taking that next step, which is really impressive. "I'm happy to be a part of it, and hopefully we can run good next Sunday." Elliott and Earnhardt are the only two drivers locked into their starting spots for next Sunday’s 59th running of the "Great American Race" (2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). They will lead the field to the green flag in both Can-Am Duel 150-mile qualifying races on Thursday night (7 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) -- Elliott in the first Duel, Earnhardt in the second. Earnhardt is racing for the first time since a concussion sidelined him for the final 18 events of the 2016 season. The satisfaction of locking in a front-row starting position tempered his disappointment at missing the pole by the slimmest of margins. "I certainly would have loved to have gotten a pole, but my boss man (Rick Hendrick) is happy," Earnhardt said. "I just talked to him on the phone, and he's got to be thrilled with having his cars up front." Brad Keselowski qualified third at 192.691 mph and will start on the outside of the front row in Thursday night's first Duel. Clint Bowyer , in his first competitive effort in a Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, will start beside Earnhardt in the second Duel after posting the fourth-fastest speed (192.571 mph). With 36 chartered teams knowing they will race next Sunday, six Open entries are vying for the four remaining berths in the Daytona 500 field. Sunday's time trials brought good news for Brendan Gaughan and Elliott Sadler , who know they will race next Sunday as the two fastest qualifiers among the "go-fast-or-go-homers." Conversely, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Timmy Hill , who posted the two slowest times in the field, can race in the 500 only if they are the fastest Open drivers in their respective Duels. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Full lineup for Can-Am Duels at Daytona
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! Sunday's Coors Light Pole qualifying set the front row for the Daytona 500 -- Chase Elliott is on the pole, and Dale Earnhardt Jr . will start second when the green flag drops Feb. 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The qualifying speeds also set the lineups for Thursday's Can-Am Duels at Daytona (7 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the twin 60-lap races that determine both the field and the full lineup for the "Great American Race." As a reminder, 36 Charter teams are locked into the Daytona 500 , leaving four available spots to be filled by six Open, or non-Charter teams. Duel 1 is typically comprised from the odd-numbered drivers on the Daytona 500 qualifying speed chart -- first, third, fifth, etc. Duel 2 is then the even-finishing drivers. The duel lineups could be minimally altered from that formula, though, to ensure an even number of Open teams in each duel race (three apiece). Below is the official lineup for each race:
Bowyer: 'It feels good to be competitive again'
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- It wasn't quite the Daytona 500 pole position -- although for a while it looked like it might be -- but Clint Bowyer 's fourth-place qualifying effort Sunday afternoon on the Daytona International Speedway high banks was a huge confidence boost for him and for his Stewart-Haas Racing team. Bowyer took over the No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for retired great Tony Stewart this season and his first official outing in the car Sunday certainly was noteworthy. And assuring. The 2012 Cup championship runner-up looked stout taking over driving duties for the three-time series champion Stewart -- and held the lead spot on the timing pylon for a good portion of the qualifying session before Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr . topped the mark. Even so, Bowyer was smiling and enthusiastic when qualifying closed. "It's a great effort, considering everything these guys have gone through all season long, switching manufacturers and everything that goes with that,’" Bowyer said of his SHR team. "It was right where they left off and we gained on it." Bowyer, who was signed by the Stewart-Haas organization in 2015 to replace the retiring Stewart, drove for HScott Motorsports last year while "on deck" for the seat. And he suffered through the worst season of his career with not a single top-five finish. The promising start in his first official outing for SHR was exactly the kind of beginning both Bowyer and his team could appreciate. "It's a nice first time out with him and more importantly, I think it's a big progression for Stewart-Haas," crew chief Mike Bugarewicz said. "It says a lot about this company and how hard everybody has worked -- our R&D group, everyone in the body shop, the aero engineers, everybody. "Having two cars in the top 12 (also seventh place Kevin Harvick ) we had a reasonable shot at it. We're happy. This team has been through a lot the past two years and now meeting up with Clint, we're excited and looking forward to working with him. I think we're going to have a lot of fun this year. "When the organization that's been working so hard, sees speed in the car, that's a good thing. And him climbing in for the first time … this gets him pumped up and everyone in the car excited and ready to go." Bowyer has four top-10 finishes in the Daytona 500 , including back-to-back fourth-place efforts in 2009-10. He says this restrictor-plate style of racing is something he said he looks forward to. This opportunity with SHR is something he's ready to seize. 'It's Daytona," Bowyer said of the importance of his efforts. "It feels good to be competitive again. I was down here last year and we were way off the pace. It was crushing because you know deep down you don't even have a chance and when you've got a car like this -- a hot rod like this and a team like this -- I've got a chance.’’ &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Texas penalties upheld after JRM No. 88 appeal
RELATED: Series standings " Chase grid " Texas penalties A three-member panel upheld a P2-grade penalty to the JR Motorsports No. 88 team in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at the conclusion of an expedited appeals hearing Wednesday. Kevin Harvick drove the No. 88 Chevrolet to a third-place finish last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway , but the JRM entry did not meet the proper height requirement in the rear during a post-race inspection, a violation of Sections 12.1; 188.8.131.52.2 in the 2016 NASCAR Rule Book. The team -- with Rick Hendrick the car owner of record for the Dale Earnhardt Jr .-owned organization -- was docked 10 points in the XFINITY team owner standings. Crew chief David Elinz was fined $10,000. The penalties were affirmed Wednesday by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel. The team had the option of a final appeal to Bryan Moss, the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer, but it declined. The panel members who heard Wednesday's appeal were: Dale Pinilis, longtime operator of NASCAR-affiliated Bowman Gray Stadium; former premier series driver Lake Speed ; and Kevin Whitaker, owner of Greenville-Pickens Speedway, another historic weekly NASCAR track.