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2011 Daytona 500 Starting Grid: Gatorade Duels First Race Sets Bottom Row

Thursday’s Gatorade Duels are NASCAR’s unique way of determining the starting grid at the Daytona 500, with all but two spots determined by two 60-lap races. Last Sunday, the pole position and outside of row one were determined in the traditional way, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon securing their spots with the typical fastest lap. With one of the two Gatorade Duels in the books, the bottom row of the Daytona 500 starting grid is set, with the top lane to be determined by the second Gatorade Duel, currently in progress.

Kurt Busch took home his second checkered flag in less than a week, edging Regan Smith in the 60-lap duel. Because of Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crash in practice on Tuesday, Busch will start on the inside of the front row, in the pole position. Earnhardt Jr. will start at the back of the field after wrecking the car he qualified in.

J.J. Yeley and Michael Waltrip also made the field by way of transfer spots, though the way they did so is beyond my pay grade. For more on the transfer spots, and the full results of the first Gatorade Duel, check out SB Nation’s Daytona 500 StoryStream.

For the rest of our coverage, check out our own 2011 Daytona 500 StoryStream. We’ll keep you updated on the second duel, while also keeping track of the goings-on during practice this week.