The first round of Daytona qualifying is over and just like the Bud Shootout, Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be on the pole. Earnhardt Jr. turned in the fastest lap in Sunday’s qualifying at 186.089 miles per hour. Jeff Gordon was right on Earnhardt Jr.‘s heels, turning in a lap of 185.966 miles per hour. Those two will be on the front row, with the rest of the drivers’ starting spots determined through the Gatorade Duels, set to take place later this week. Trevor Bayne, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five.
Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne, fresh-off blowing an engine in the Bud Shootout on Saturday night, had a disappointing qualifying session, turning in the 29th-fastest time. Three other drivers made it through based on speed, as well — Bill Elliot, Travis Kvapli and Joe Nemechek. Terry Labonte also guaranteed himself a spot in the field by using a past champion’s provisional.
With speed qualifying out of the way, Daytona International Speedway will sit idle on Monday and Tuesday. Drivers will hit the track again on Wednesday for practices, with Sprint Cup drivers getting set for the Gatorade Duels and the trucks and Nationwide Series drivers also going through preparations. On Thursday, the Daytona 500 field will be set in stone with the running of the Gatorade Duels.