Bayne has mixed feelings about qualifying result

Posted by imelda sovzky on Monday, February 20, 2012

Bayne has mixed feelings about qualifying result

Feb. 19, 2012

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A late draw and a gust of wind may have cost Trevor Bayne a shot at the Daytona 500 pole, but the defending race winner did earn a significant consolation prize.

With a ninth-place effort in Sunday's time trials at Daytona International Speedway, fastest among drivers who weren't locked into the race, Bayne assured himself of a starting position in next Sunday's 500. 

That wasn't quite enough, however, to erase Bayne's disappointment at not claiming a front-row starting spot. Bayne went out 38th for his qualifying laps.
Carl Edwards, who led a Roush Fenway Racing sweep of the front row, was the fifth driver to make an attempt.

"I feel pretty good about the lap," Bayne said. Last year, I would have been jumping up and down about qualifying in the top 10, but I really thought we had a shot at the pole, as good as our car was Saturday (second-fastest in the final practice session).

"It's just the wind was against us. Going through (Turns) 3 and 4, I could feel it kind of gusting onto the nose of our car, so at that point, there's not much you can do. I held it wide open, and they gave me a great racecar, so I think it's going to race really good, and that's all that really matters."

Though he scored an improbable victory in last year's race, Bayne wasn't locked into the field this year because his car owners, the Wood Brothers, ran a limited schedule in 2011 and finished the season outside the top 35 in owner points.

Accordingly, Bayne was relieved to secure a starting spot in the 500 without having to race his way into the field in Thursday's first Gatorade  Duel 150 qualifying race, where he'll start fifth.

"Yeah, it's a lot of relief," Bayne acknowledged. "Now we're back to the same position we were in last year. We started the Duel knowing we were locked in, and it was just wherever we finished, and now we're right back there -- so I'm ready for it."

Edwards and teammate Greg Biffle will start first and second in the Daytona 500. The other 41 spots on the grid will be determined by the results of
Thursday's Duels.

Clint Bowyer described his 22nd-place qualifying lap as "uneventful."

Maybe that's because all the drama took place in the inspection line -- after time trials.

Bowyer's No. 15 Toyota failed the post-qualifying height stick test when his car was deemed too low in the left front. Bowyer's qualifying time was disallowed, and he will start the second Duel from the rear of the field.

The problem was a shock absorber that failed to come back up after the attempt, as usually happens.

"I don't know if we got something stuck in the bleed hole in the shock, but the front just didn’t come back up," said Scott Miller, vice president of competition at Michael Waltrip Racing, which fields Bowyer's cars. "It's the same stuff that we ran in practice, and it was coming back up.

"We'll go over there and get to the bottom of it and see what happened."

NASCAR doesn’t plan to impose any additional penalties, a typical posture for this sort of infraction.

All but lost in the hoopla surrounding Danica Patrick's NASCAR Sprint Cup  Series debut in the Daytona 500 was a strong showing by 2011 Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who was eighth-fastest in Sunday's time trials.

"It will definitely give you some confidence that you've got a car that is capable of being in the front and running up front for a lot of the race," said Stenhouse, who will start his first Daytona 500 and his second Sprint Cup race next Sunday.

Stenhouse will start fourth in Thursday's first Duel, the race that will determine his position on the grid for the Daytona 500.

"On Thursday, our job is to keep our racecar as clean as we can so we'll have it for Sunday," Stenhouse said.

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