The 2011 Daytona 500 starting lineup is ready for the big race Sunday. There were changes to the 2011 Daytona 500 starting lineup though, especially after Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrecked during practice with teammate Jimmy Johnson earlier in the week. While on a practice lap, Earnhardt had to slam on the breaks to avoid Johnson, who was trying to get around cars that had slowed down in front of him. Earnhardt ended up getting hit from behind by another racer, sending him into the infield wall and ripping a chunk off of his car.
Up to that point Earnhardt had taken the pole position to the race, posting the best qualifying time of a deep field. Because he wrecked his primary car and has to go with a backup car, it meant that Earnhardt will have to start at the back of the back on Sunday. That was something that might seem unfair to fans of Earnhardt, but it’s how the rules are written up for the complicated qualifying procedures at the Daytona 500.
On Thursday there were two duel races that helped to determine the rest of the field, including who would be taking the front spots on the starting grid. Kurt Busch won the first duel race, coming in as the winner of the first 150-mile qualifier race. He became one of the early favorites to win the race, but was matched by Jeff Burton who ended up winning the second qualifying race on Thursday. That pushed both drivers towards the front of the Daytona 500 starting grid (displayed in full on page two), and should give them both nice chances at winning the race.
Jeff Gordon was the driver who ended up posting the second best qualifying time on the Daytona 500 race track, but with Earnhardt now down for the count, he will take over the pole position in Sunday’s race. That will push Kurt Busch up to the front row as well, giving him a very nice look at the open track to start the race. Some feel that being on the outside of the first row is a disadvantage, but it could help if he is able to beat Gordon off the starting line.
Rounding out that first group of drivers are Regan Smith, Clint Bowyer, and Kevin Harvick, who comprise the rest of the first three rows at the start of the race. Jimmy Johnson, who is fresh off of winning his fifth straight NASCAR title will start back on the outside of the 11th row (No. 22 position). He at least has a better look at the field than Earnhardt, who will have to stage a pretty huge comeback if he is going to make this a competitive race.
The 2011 Daytona 500 begins television coverage at 9 am PST / 12 pm EST, and should be an exciting way to kick off the 2011 NASCAR schedule.
Full 2011 Daytona 500 Starting Grid
1. (88) x-Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet 186.089.
2. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 185.966.
3. (22) Kurt Busch, Dodge, 184.896.
4. (31) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 185.071.
5. (78) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 183.681.
6. (33) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 185.223.
7. (29) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 184.74.
8. (15) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 183.966.
9. (17) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 184.102.
10. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 183.595.
11. (4) Kasey Kahne, Toyota, 183.602.
12. (92) Brian Keselowski, Dodge, 177.581.
13. (42) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 184.763.
14. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 183.685.
15. (43) A J Allmendinger, Ford, 184.29.
16. (2) Brad Keselowski, Dodge, 184.008.
17. (5) Mark Martin, Chevrolet, 184.991.
18. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 181.316.
19. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 185.422.
20. (56) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 183.456.
21. (39) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 185.002.
22. (99) Carl Edwards, Ford, 184.475.
23. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 184.687.
24. (00) David Reutimann, Toyota, 184.019.
25. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 184.911.
26. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 184.911.
27. (83) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 183.557.
28. (37) Robert Richardson Jr., Ford, 181.466.
29. (09) Bill Elliott, Chevrolet, 184.532.
30. (7) Robby Gordon, Dodge, 182.12.
31. (47) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 183.576.
32. (21) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 185.445.
33. (46) J.J. Yeley, Chevrolet, 180.977.
34. (6) David Ragan, Ford, 184.612.
35. (9) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 184.748.
36. (77) Steve Wallace, Toyota, 182.574.
37. (71) Andy Lally, Chevrolet, 180.828.
38. (20) Joey Logano, Toyota, 183.206.
39. (34) David Gilliland, Ford, 182.697.
40. (38) Travis Kvapil, Ford, 184.271.
41. (87) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, 184.222.
42. (36) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, 183.793.
43. (32) Terry Labonte, Ford, Past Champion.
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