NNS: Bowyer, Cassill, Earnhardt Jr, and Patrick to Lead Field To Green In 2011

Camille Jones@annaxcamilleContributor IIIFebruary 18, 2011

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 17:  Danica Patrick (L), driver of the #7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, talks with Dale Earnhardt Jr. (R), driver of the #5 Hellmann's Chevrolet, in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2011 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jason Smith/Getty Images

After what turned out to be an exciting "rapid-fire" qualifying session for the Nationwide Series drivers, within the final cars, Clint Bowyer claimed the pole starting position. 

Leading the field to beginning of the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series season, Bowyer will be closely followed by Landon Cassill, the surprise competitor of the front row, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Danica Patrick, who held onto the pole until the final six cars went out to qualify.

This will be Clint Bowyer's ninth Nationwide pole in his 170th start.

"I'm just really proud of David Hyder (crew chief) and everybody at KHI. They do a great job,'' said Bowyer. 

It was Bowyer's lap of 180.821 mph that removed Landon Cassill from the provisional pole.

Earlier in the qualifying session, Danica Patrick laid down a lap at 180.48 mph in 49.867 seconds, a time that many believed would be hard to defeat. Knocking Carl Edwards off of his provisional pole, media surrounded the electric green car, waiting to hear if she would become only the second woman to collect a pole in the series' history.

The news would come about an hour later when the final six cars took off one by one, knocking her back to fourth and lining her up next to her team owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr, owner of JR Motorsports.

"It's been a fast car the whole time we've been here,'' Patrick said after her qualifying laps, waiting in angst for the final cars to go out after going out 24th in the session. "No matter what happens now, it'll be a good starting position."

Bowyer's success brought disappointment to young Landon Cassill, looking to find his second pole in the Nationwide series. After a qualifying speed of 180.6 mph and a time of 49.834, his effort was on the line and wiped to second after Bowyer's lap of 49.773.

With a mix of young and old, fresh faces and veterans, leading the field to green in the DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona, the Nationwide Series season will begin by highlighting its strong backing of "the young teaching the old" and what the series is all about—giving young and new drivers experience with the veterans.

The DRIVE4COPD 300 is set to begin tomorrow at 1:15 pm EST.