The Daytona 500 starting lineup is all set, determined by Thursday’s Gatorade Duels. The starting grid was formed in a two-part process, with drivers running through the typical fastest-lap qualifying last Sunday, then racing in the Gatorade Duels on Thursday. Sunday’s qualifying set the first row, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning the pole and Jeff Gordon taking the outside spot on the first row. The rest of the field was determined in the Gatorade Duels, with a few drivers securing spots in the field and the rest racing for placement.
Earnhardt Jr. still has the pole position, but won’t actually start there in the Daytona 500. On Wednesday, he wrecked the car he qualified in, forcing him to use a backup car for Sunday’s race. Because of the switch, Earnhardt Jr. will go to the back of the pack on Sunday, vacating his pole position.
Kurt Busch will start in Earnhardt Jr.’s place after winning one of the two Gatorade Duels heats. Busch was to start on the inside of the second row, but will now start on the pole. Everyone else will move up one spot on the inside as Earnhardt Jr. moves to the back of the field. Jeff Burton, winner of the second Gatorade Duel, will start on the outside of the second row.
For the full starting lineup, go here. Be sure to check out the story on Brian Keselowski, who went from ultimate underdog to starting 12th in the Daytona 500 yesterday during the Gatorade Duels.
For more on the race, check out our 2011 Daytona 500 StoryStream.