Feb 14 2008

How About Dale Earnhardt Jr.?

Talk about a strong start for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and an even stronger start for Hendrick Motorsports, Dale wins the shootout and then wins the first Gatorade Duel race today, and Jimmie Johnson has the pole for the Daytona 500. I wonder if all those people who said they would not root for Dale Jr. because he went to Hendrick Motorsports are regretting that decision now? Probably not, I bet they are already back on the bandwagon.

Denny Hamlin wins the first race for Toyota; you just knew it would be a Gibbs car, I mean, what has Waltrip and his bunch done with a year under their belts? I especially liked his little comment about Jeff Gordon hanging back on the restart, but it was fine for him to go to the back and block and weave in front of his teammates competitors to help them get in the 500. I bet Michael gets on your nerves when he’s drunk.

With a push from Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin won the second Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying race for Sunday’s Daytona 500 in a green-white-checkered-flag finish that took the event four laps beyond its posted distance. The victory for Toyota was the second for a foreign manufacturer in NASCAR’s top series. Jaguar driver Al Keller won a road-course race in Linden, N.J., in 1954.

In the first Duel 150, Dale Earnhardt Jr. passed Ryan Newman for the lead on Lap 51 of 60 and held on for the win — his second in two races for Hendrick Motorsports.

But the story of Thursday was the success of three veteran drivers — Dale Jarrett, Kenny Wallace and John Andretti — who persevered to make the field. Source: Earnhardt Jr., Hamlin win qualifying races at Daytona

A total of ten cars changed engines before the duel races, including all four Hendrick cars, so I was not too excited about Gordon’s chances, but only Dave Blaney had engine trouble during the races. This will be the first time the Daytona 500 has been run without a car from the Wood Bros.

I did not know you could do this though:

“It’s too early to diagnose the problem,” said Busch, who gave up the owner points on his No. 2 Dodge to guarantee rookie teammate Sam Hornish Jr. starting spots in the first five races of 2008.

I wonder why you don’t hear about it happening more often on teams with the really good drivers who make every race on speed, but it is only for the first five races.

Gatorade Duel 1 Unofficial Results
Gatorade Duel 2 Unofficial Results

Here’s how they will start for the Daytona 500:

1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe’s 187.075 48.109 Leader
2 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 186.734 48.197 -0.088
3 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet AMP Energy / National Guard – - -
4 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express – - -
5 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target – - -
6 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot – - -
7 12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL – - -
8 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont – - -
9 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet Kellogg’s / CARQUEST – - -
10 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser – - -
11 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot – - -
12 8 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army – - -
13 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker – - -
14 6 David Ragan Ford AAA – - -
15 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Texaco / Havoline – - -
16 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil – - -
17 187 Kenny Wallace Chevrolet Furniture Row
/ DenverMattress.com – - -
18 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M – - -
19 77 Sam Hornish Jr.* Dodge Mobil 1 – - -
20 44 Dale Jarrett Toyota UPS – - -
21 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet PEAK / Menards – - -
22 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Makoto – - -
23 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull – - -
24 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M’s – - -
25 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker – - -
26 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Jim Beam – - -
27 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet State Water Heaters – - -
28 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT – - -
29 01 Regan Smith* Chevrolet Principal Financial Group – - -
30 28 Travis Kvapil Ford K&N Filters – - -
31 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel’s – - -
32 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditReport.com – - -
33 70 Jeremy Mayfield Chevrolet Junior Johnson’s Midnight Moon – - -
34 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar – - -
35 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy – - -
36 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility – - -
37 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV – - -
38 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal Cask No. 16 – - -
39 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Wells Fargo – - -
40 40 Dario Franchitti* Dodge Dodge Journey – - -
41 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing – - -
42 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron’s Dream Machine – - -
43 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite Champion’s Provisional

Did Not Qualify
44 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull – - -
45 21 Bill Elliott Ford Little Debbie – - -
46 49 Ken Schrader Dodge HealthLife.com – - -
47 160 Boris Said Ford 7-Eleven Slurpee / No Fear – - -
48 10 Patrick Carpentier* Dodge Valvoline – - -
49 137 Eric McClure Chevrolet Hefty – - -
50 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming – - -
51 27 Jacques Villeneuve* Toyota Bill Davis Racing – - -
52 150 Stanton Barrett Chevrolet NOS Energy Drink / SKI / SBM – - -
53 08 Carl Long Dodge MILLSTAR Tools / Rhino’s Energy Drink

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