Tori Petry, ESPN Radio
In Daytona 500 Qualifying on Sunday, 2011 Sprint Cup Runner-up Carl Edwards won the pole position in the #99 Fastenal Ford. His Roush Fenway teammate #16 Greg Biffle came in just behind him to clinch the outside pole position. Edwards posted the top lap speed of 194.738, and it is his first pole win for the 500.
Defending Daytona champion Trevor Bayne was able to secure his spot in NASCAR’s premier race by qualifying first of the drivers who were not already locked-in from last year’s top 35 owner’s points. His speed in the #21 Wood Brothers Ford was 9th fastest overall and will give him the 5th starting position in the first of Thursday’s Gatorade Duels.
Meanwhile, Clint Bowyer’s #15 car will be sent to the back of the pack in the Duels for failing inspections after qualifying.
Other than the front row spot, the positions determined by qualifying will not hold up for Sunday’s 500. These positions only determine the starting positions of the drivers heading into the twin races on Thursday. The first of the Gatorade Duels includes all drivers who qualified with odd-numbered positions. This year, that includes #99 Edwards, #88 Junior, #21 Bayne, #14 Stewart, and #10 Patrick. The second Gatorade Duel includes even-numbered qualifiers like #16 Biffle, #24 Gordon, #48 Johnson, and the #18 and #51 Busch brothers.
For some drivers, their performance in the Duels will determine whether or not they get to take part in the Great American Race. There are 49 drivers and only 43 spots. Those who will put it all on the line on Thursday include Michael McDowell, Mike Wallace, and Robby Gordon in Duel 1, as well as Joe Nemechek, Robert Richardson Jr., and JJ Yeley in Duel 2.
Here is the final starting lineup for both Gatorade Duels. The races are set to start at 2pm on Thursday.
Gatorade Duel #1
Gatorade Duel #2
Tori Petry is a Telecommunications student at the University of Florida. She covers motorsports for ESPN Radio (Gainesville/Ocala). Check out her blog, "Motorsports Flash" at espngo1.com. You can follow her on Twitter @sportstori