Daytona 500 2014: Analyzing Qualifying Results for the Great American Race

Feb 16, 2014; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Austin Dillon (3) celebrates winning the pole for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
R. Cory SmithSenior Writer IFebruary 17, 2014

It's been a long time since the No. 3 car graced the Daytona 500 stage. This time, it will be at the front of the pack.

Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing caused a stir late last year after it was revealed that he would be bringing the No. 3 car back to the NASCAR Sprint Cup stage. Now the 23-year-old rookie has the Daytona 500 pole award in his first race in the famed black ride.

NASCAR on Fox provided a look at Dillon crossing the finish line after taking the pole:

Dillon knows the importance of the car and told Krista Voda of Fox that it meant a lot for fans of Dale Earnhardt, according to NASCAR on Fox:

While Dillon was the big story on Sunday, teammate Martin Truex Jr. clinched not only a spot in the field but also a place right alongside Dillon on the front row as the No. 2 qualifier.

With both earning their right to race in the Daytona 500, here is a look at the full table of results and a breakdown of what Sunday's final leaderboard means for the race.

Daytona 500 Qualifying Results
PositionCarDriverTeamTimeSpeed
1)3Austin DillonDOW Chevrolet45.914196.019
2)78Martin Truex Jr.Furniture Row Chevrolet45.953195.852
3)16Greg Biffle3M Ford45.961195.818
4)99Carl EdwardsFastenal Ford45.986195.712
5)31Ryan NewmanCaterpillar Chevrolet45.987195.707
6)2Brad KeselowskiMiller Lite Ford46.084195.296
7)88Dale Earnhardt Jr.National Guard Chevrolet46.104195.211
8)24Jeff GordonDrive to End Hunger Chevrolet46.144195.042
9)17Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Nationwide Insurance Ford46.153195.004
10)27Paul MenardPeak/Menards Chevrolet46.173194.919
11)9Marcos AmbroseStanley Ford46.179194.894
12)33Brian ScottWhitetail Chevrolet46.207194.776
13)43Aric AlmirolaSmithfield Ford46.235194.658
14)48Jimmie JohnsonLowe's Chevrolet46.24194.637
15)22Joey LoganoShell Pennzoil Ford46.253194.582
16)13Casey MearsGEICO Chevrolet46.253194.582
17)20Matt KensethDollar General Toyota46.255194.574
18)7Michael AnnettPilot/Flying J Travel Centers Chevrolet46.255194.574
19)5Kasey KahneFarmers Insurance Chevrolet46.262194.544
20)15Clint Bowyer5-hour Energy Toyota46.267194.523
21)18Kyle BuschM&M's Toyota46.272194.502
22)11Denny HamlinFedEx Express Toyota46.278194.477
23)4Kevin HarvickBudweiser Chevrolet46.291194.422
24)42Kyle LarsonTarget Chevrolet46.294194.41
25)10Danica PatrickGoDaddy Chevrolet46.301194.38
26)21Trevor BayneMotorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford46.312194.334
27)47AJ AllmendingerKroger/USO Chevrolet46.366194.108
28)41Kurt BuschHaas Automation Chevrolet46.373194.078
29)36Reed SorensonGolden Corral Chevrolet46.376194.066
30)51Justin AllgaierBrandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet46.436193.815
31)38David GillilandLove's Travel Stops Ford46.455193.736
32)40Landon CassillHillman Racing Chevrolet46.456193.732
33)30Parker KligermanSwan Energy Toyota46.489193.594
34)66Michael WaltripBlueDEF/AAA Toyota46.529193.428
35)14Tony StewartBass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet46.544193.365
36)35Eric McClureHefty Ultimate/Reynolds Wrap Ford46.655192.905
37)55Brian VickersAaron's Dream Machine Toyota46.681192.798
38)1Jamie McMurrayMcDonald's Chevrolet46.706192.695
39)26Cole WhittSpeed Stick Gear Toyota46.744192.538
40)34David RaganCSX - Play It Safe Ford46.795192.328
41)95Michael McDowellK-Love Ford46.804192.291
42)32Terry LabonteC&J Energy Services Ford46.842192.135
43)98Josh WiseCurb Records Ford46.86192.061
44)52Bobby LabontePhoenix Construction Chevrolet46.999191.493
45)87Joe Nemechek300 Rise of an Empire Toyota47.249190.48
46)83Ryan TruexBorla Exhaust Toyota47.282190.347
47)23Alex BowmanDr.Pepper Toyota47.447189.685
48)93Morgan ShepherdSupportMilitary.org Toyota47.483189.542
49)77Dave BlaneyPlinker Arms FordN/AN/A
NASCAR.com

 

Breakdown of Daytona 500 Qualifying

It was believed for a long time that after Dale Earnhardt passed away on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500, the No. 3 car would never appear in another NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

While Dillon, the grandson of car owner Richard Childress, may be just a rookie, he is already proving why he was given the honor of driving the famous car.

NASCAR fan and former Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones congratulated the young driver on Twitter:

A rookie winning the pole certainly isn't a normal occurrence, but young drivers have had a lot of success at the race in recent memory. Danica Patrick won the pole last season, and Trevor Bayne won his first Sprint Cup race in the 2011 Daytona 500.

Dillon's success on the track was due in large part, he said, to chief engine builder Danny Lawrence, who was celebrating a birthday on Sunday.

The 23-year-old spoke about Lawrence and the engine he was given during qualifying, according to Reid Spencer of NASCAR.com:

We got him a 1-2 start at Daytona, so this is pretty awesome. You just try and stay focused, because everyone wants to see this number perform well. That's what my goals are -- to stay focused.

His grandfather also added his own thoughts, according to Reid, saying, "We wanted to put on a good show with the 3, and I couldn't be prouder of everybody. (The pressure) is always on when you've got grandsons racing."

Another one of those famed Childress engines also helped Truex Jr. qualify for the field with the second-fastest time around the track.

Though he didn't claim the top spot in the Great American Race, Truex Jr. says he's happy with the finish and having a guaranteed spot, according to NASCAR on Fox:

As many fans of NASCAR already knew coming in, the Daytona 500 qualifying event only guarantees two spots in the field for those involved. For every other driver involved, claiming one of the top-15 spots in the Budweiser Duels will solidify a place in the field for the 500.

Tom Jensen of Fox Sports gave fans a look at the two fields for the Duels following qualifying:

Both fields are particularly interesting thanks to the depth in NASCAR, making both races intriguing for fans of some of the most popular drivers.

With Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart in the first race, they will all be competing with pole-sitter Dillon to claim the top spot.

As for the second race, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Brad Keselowski and last year's winner Jimmie Johnson will start in the top 10 looking to earn placement in the field.

Feb 16, 2014; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Austin Dillon (R) and Martin Truex Jr. (L) celebrate starting on the front row for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past five seasons, Busch has won one of the Duels twice, including last season when he and Harvick took the wins. With both having success in recent memory, fans can expect a good showing from them.

But with the Childress engines being the story thus far, it would be ironic to see Harvick win another Duel in his first try with Stewart Haas Racing.

Gordon has the most wins in the Duels among current drivers and could once again find himself in Victory Lane at Daytona on Thursday night. Outside of Gordon, Stewart and Earnhardt Jr. sit at second in Duel wins with three, making them other favorites to claim the win in one of the two races.

With Dillon and Truex Jr. finishing at the top of the field, every other driver qualifying will get a second chance to make the race during the Budweiser Duels on Thursday night.

While fans might not be sold on the idea of the No. 3 car on the track in Sprint Cup, it returns to its rightful place at the top of the field.

Now it's up to Dillon to keep it there.

 

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