Daytona 500 Pole Positions: Breaking Down the Great American Race's Front Row

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2013

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 17: Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, with her Pole Award and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, with his Front Row Award after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Performing well at the 2013 Daytona 500 is imperative to the success of a driver’s season, and starting from the pole positions in this race is even more important than at other tracks.

Pole sitter Danica Patrick (196.434 mph), outside pole winner Jeff Gordon (196.292 mph) and their strong qualifying efforts have the inside lane for a strong performance at Daytona International Speedway.

With so much on the line during Sunday’s Great American Race, both Patrick and Gordon have a great chance to start the race at the front, stay there all day and finish strong.

Easier said than done, though.

Where: Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.

When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET

Watch: Fox

Listen: Motor Racing Network

Live Stream: RaceView

Starting Order

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

Breaking Down the Front Row

No. 1: Danica Patrick

The hype surrounding the pole sitter for the 2013 Daytona 500, Danica Patrick, is unlike anything the sport has ever seen, but the first woman to ever obtain the No. 1 starting position in a NASCAR race wants more.

Patrick needs to finish the race as well as she is starting it, and that involves running a smart race. Everyone is on the same page with the new Generation-6 cars, so as long as Patrick stays toward the front, she should be able to avoid trouble.

No matter what Patrick and the No. 10 team decide their strategy will be on Sunday—force the issue and staying out front of the field or falling to the back early and avoiding trouble before making a late push toward the front—the mainstream focus will be fixed on the second-year star.

No. 2: Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon starting from the outside pole position is bad news for the rest of the drivers in the field. The NASCAR veteran has raced in 20 Daytona 500s over his career, winning three times and finishing in the top-10 eight times.

As great as Gordon can be at Daytona, the intense competition and the fact that over the past three years the No. 24 car has averaged a 31.3 place finish has many questioning how well the racing legend will finish Sunday.

Starting out in front of the pack will afford Gordon the opportunity to stay out of trouble, and as long as he remains one of the top contenders throughout the day, the No. 24 team will walk away from the 500 with a solid finish.


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