NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
 
    === Budweiser Duel: Determining the starting lineup for Daytona 500 ===
 
 Daytona   Beach,  FL   (Sports  Network)  -  The  Budweiser  Duel  at  Daytona
 International Speedway -- the twin 150-mile qualifying races -- will determine
 the starting lineup beyond the front row for the Feb. 24 Daytona 500.
 
 In  last Sunday's time trials for the Daytona 500, Danica Patrick won the pole
 position,  becoming  the first  female to  win a  pole for  a race in NASCAR's
 premier series (Sprint Cup). Jeff Gordon will share the front row with Patrick
 after  finishing second  in time trials. They are the only drivers who secured
 their starting positions for the 500-mile race.
 
 The starting spots for each of the two qualifying races was determined in time
 trials.  Drivers  who finished in  the odd-numbered positions were assigned to
 the first race, while drivers who finished in the even-numbered positions were
 placed  in the  final event. Patrick will  start first in the 23-car field for
 the first Duel, while Gordon will lead a field of 22 cars in the second Duel.
 
 Dale Earnhardt Jr. blew an engine during Wednesday's practice and will have to
 start  from  the rear of the  field in race  one. Earnhardt Jr. had earned the
 sixth  starting position for that qualifier following his 11th-place finish in
 time trials.
 
 The  top-15 finishers in  each Duel race -- not including Patrick or Gordon --
 will  fill positions  3-32 in  the starting  lineup for  the Daytona  500. The
 top-15  finishers  in the first  race will make  up the inside row (odd-number
 starting positions), while those who finish 1-15 in the second event will line
 up on the second row (even-number starting spots).
 
 Starting  positions 33-36  will go to those  drivers who did not finish in the
 top-15  in  their respective  qualifying races  but were  among the top speeds
 during time trials. Spots 37-42 will go to the top-six cars in the 2012 Sprint
 Cup  owner point standings  that are not already locked in. The 43rd and final
 position  is reserved for the most recent past series champion. If there is no
 eligible  past champion,  that  spot will  revert back  to  last year's  owner
 points.
 
 In  addition to Patrick and Gordon, 11 other drivers are guaranteed a starting
 spot in the Daytona 500, no matter where they finish in the Budweiser Duel.
 
 Trevor Bayne, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne are locked in based on
 their  speed/time  in time  trials. Bayne posted  the third fastest qualifying
 lap, followed by Newman, Stewart and Kahne.
 
 Brad  Keselowski, the  reigning series champion, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson,
 Greg  Biffle, Denny Hamlin and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. have a spot reserved in the
 500  by  virtue of last  year's owner points. Stenhouse,  a rookie in Cup this
 season, is in the seat of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, previously held
 by Matt Kenseth.
 
 Kurt  Busch,  driving the No. 78  Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet this year, is
 locked in since he is the most recent past champion (2004).
 
 Mike  Bliss and  Brian Keselowski,  who  is Brad  Keselowski's elder  brother,
 finished  44th and  45th, respectively, in time trials. The only way these two
 drivers  can  make the Daytona  500 is  to race their  way in during the Duel.
 Keselowski is competing in the first race, and Bliss is in the second event.
 
 Last year, Stewart won the first qualifying race -- known then as the Gatorade
 Duel  --  while Kenseth took  the checkered flag  in the second event. Kenseth
 also  won the Daytona 500, which was delayed one day for the first time in its
 history due to rain.
 
 Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup. Date: Thursday, Feb. 21. Race: Budweiser Duel
 (Daytona 500 twin qualifiers). Site: Daytona International Speedway. Track:
 2.5-mile tri-oval. Start time: 2 p.m. ET. Laps: 60 (each qualifier). Miles:
 150. 2012 Winners: Tony Stewart (race 1), Matt Kenseth (race 2). Television:
 Speed. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio.
 
 
 
 02/20 16:52:08 ET

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