NSCS: Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth win Gatorade Duels; Michael Waltrip out for Daytona 500

February 23, 2012 No Comments

(LAT photo)

As March Madness quickly approaches in basketball, NASCAR had their own version of weekday fun, as fans packed Daytona International Speedway for the Gatorade Duels.

Tony Stewart was the first victor of the day, winning the first of two 150-mile sprint races. Thursday’s win marked the 17th time Stewart has won in Daytona — although he has never celebrated a Daytona 500 victory.

Matt Kenseth made a move on Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Greg Biffle, overtaking him in the final lap, to win the second sprint race of the afternoon.

As the second race was rather uneventful, that was not the case for the first.

Danica Patrick, who will be only the third woman to start in the Great American Race, was involved in a multi-car mishap, which forced her to smash into the safer barrier of the infield wall.

“It sucks (to hit the wall like that),” said Patrick. “You just have to brace yourself. I guess in these situations, I just have to be glad that I’m a small driver and that I’ve got room. Kinda hug it in and let it rip.

“Overall, I’m just very disappointed that the car got crashed with two corners to go. It’s not how we wanted to roll into Sunday. We wanted to be cool, calm and collected with no damage but I guess maybe that backup car is fast, I don’t know. Maybe this is a blessing in a big disguise.”

Even though Patrick suffered some misfortune, she experienced nothing of what Michael Waltrip experienced earlier in the race.

Waltrip, who has qualified for the Daytona 500 for 25 consecutive seasons, failed to do so Thursday.

In a questionable manner, Waltrip wrecked off Turn 2 as he drove away from the pits, spinning out and hitting the wall with seven laps remaining in the first 150-mile qualifying race that sets the starting grid for the Daytona 500.

“I just went the wrong way and lost the car,” Waltrip said. “I feel like I let everybody down. I raced my way to the front and then I let them down. It’s just really hard. I don’t know what to say — it’s just sad. Thankful to my team and Aaron’s for giving me the opportunity and hate that I let everybody down.”

Drivers who were able to race their way into the Daytona 500: Joe Nemechek, Dave Blaney, Michael McDowell and Robby Gordon.

Daytona 500 Starting Lineup: 

1. Carl Edwards
2. Greg Biffle
3. Tony Stewart
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6. Regan Smith
7. Marcos Ambrose
8. Jimmie Johnson
9. Jeff Burton
10. Elliott Sadler
11. Michael McDowell
12. Joey Logano
13. Kevin Harvick
14. Kyle Busch
15. AJ Allmendinger
16. Jeff Gordon
17. Robby Gordon
18. Ryan Newman
19. Jamie McMurray
20. Kasey Kahne
21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
22. Mark Martin
23. Brad Keselowski
24. Dave Blaney
25. David Ragan
26. Martin Truex Jr.
27. Aric Almirola
28. Kurt Busch
29. Danica Patrick
30. Clint Bowyer
31. Denny Hamlin
32. Bobby Labonte
33. David Gilliland
34. Joe Nemechek
35. Juan Pablo Montoya
36. Casey Mears
37. Paul Menard
38. David Reutimann
39. Landon Cassill
40. Trevor Bayne
41. Tony Raines
42. David Stremme
43. Terry Labonte

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