Daytona 500 Starting Lineup: Past Winners in Excellent Position to Win on Sunday
Qualifying is over and the Budweiser Duels are complete. Now, all that's left to do at Daytona International Speedway this weekend is race.
NASCAR's high-profile return this weekend will be highlighted by Sunday's 55th running of the Daytona 500. Most consider The Great American Race the Super Bowl of motorsports, and rightfully so. Even casual racing fans will be tuned this weekend to find out whether pole-sitter Danica Patrick can make history by becoming the first female to win NASCAR's most prestigious event.
Scroll down to check out some past winners in great position to visit victory lane this weekend.
Daytona 500 Win: 2007
2013 Starting Position: Third
Kevin Harvick won the Daytona 500 in 2007, edging Mark Martin by an inch in one of the most memorable finishes of all time. And like that year, already in 2013, Harvick is off to a strong start.
He won the Sprint Unlimited race this past weekend to kick off the Daytona festivities, and then won the first of Thursday's two Budweiser Duels, coming from 13th place to do so. The win moved Harvick (who posted the 25th-fastest time in qualifying) up to Row 2, where he'll start in third place on Sunday behind Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon.
Remember that when Harvick won six years ago he started 34th, just nine spots back of final row. On Sunday he'll have a huge advantage starting out in the front of the pack.
Daytona 500 Wins: 2009 and 2012
2013 Starting Position: 12th
Despite winning two of the past four Daytona 500s, Matt Kenseth has somehow flown under the radar this week in Daytona Beach (you can thank Danica Patrick for that).
Kenseth, in his first year driving in the No. 20 car for Joe Gibbs Racing, finished fifth in both the Sprint Unlimited and the second Budweiser Duel this week. He'll start 12th on Sunday, in Row 6 right next to Kurt Busch.
When Kenseth won his first Daytona 500 in 2009 in a rain-shorted race, he started dead last after switching to a backup car. But he started fourth in last year's race, which he won on a Monday after fire and rain forced officials to postpone the finish. Although he'll have to make a push to win this weekend, his past achievements at this track tell us he's more than capable.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Daytona 500 Win: 2004
2013 Starting Position: 19th
Will a past champ or first-time winner take the checkered flag in 2013?
It's been nearly a decade since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won his first Daytona 500 in 2004. He started in third place on that day, but will begin in the 19th spot in 2013. Junior will have to make up 18 spots this weekend in order to join the elite list of men to have won The Great American Race twice, but that's far from impossible for a driver of his caliber.
He has always loved the 2.5-mile tri-oval, and has fared well there in the past. No matter what sort of adversity Earnhardt comes across on Sunday afternoon, you can bet he'll be right in the mix in the race's waning moments.
Junior finished second a year ago, giving eventual-winner Matt Kenseth everything he could handle.
2013 Daytona 500 Starting Lineup
Row 1: Danica Patrick, Jeff Gordon
Row 2: Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch
Row 3: Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne
Row 4: Juan Pablo Montoya, Austin Dillon
Row 5: Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer
Row 6: Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth
Row 7: Tony Stewart, Mark Martin
Row 8: Brad Keselowski, Paul Menard
Row 9: Casey Mears, Jeff Burton
Row 10: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray
Row 11: Joey Logano, David Ragan
Row 12: Bobby Labonte, Marcos Ambrose
Row 13: David Gilliland, Aric Almirola
Row 14: Joe Nemechek, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Row 15: Michael Waltrip, Dave Blaney
Row 16: Scott Speed, Josh Wise
Row 17: Trevor Bayne, Ryan Newman
Row 18: Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards
Row 19: Martin Truex Jr., Michael McDowell
Row 20: Terry Labonte, Regan Smith
Row 21: J.J. Yeley, David Reutimann
Row 22: Travis Kvapil
*Information via Jeff Gluck of USA Today.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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