NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Daytona 500 Time Trials
Date: Feb. 10, 2008
Event: Daytona 500 Time Trials (Round 1 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Pole Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (48.109 seconds at 187.075 mph)
JGR Lineup: Denny Hamlin (8th, 48.401 seconds at 185.947 mph)
Tony Stewart (12th, 48.478 seconds at 185.651 mph)
Kyle Busch (31st, 48.699 seconds at 184.809 mph)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota, qualified eighth to lead the three-car Joe Gibbs Racing contingent in time trials for the 50th annual Daytona 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Hamlin turned a lap of 48.401 seconds at 185.947 mph on the 2.5-mile oval.
“It was a pretty good lap for this FedEx team today,” Hamlin said. “We’re looking forward to putting this car on the track in the Duel and then seeing what we can do in the 500. We feel good about our equipment, our team with Tony and Kyle, and our chances overall.”
Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammates – Tony Stewart in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota and Kyle Busch in the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota – qualified 12th and 31st, respectively. Stewart turned a lap of 48.478 seconds at 185.651 mph while Busch stopped the clocks in 48.699 seconds at 184.809 mph.
“Our qualifying lap was good, just surprised by the speed,” Stewart said. “I thought we’d run faster than that. It is what it is. I don’t know why we didn’t pick up more than that, but we ran about what we practiced.”
“Our lap wasn’t as good as we expected,” Busch said. “What are you going to do? We’re just going to go and race the Gatorade Duel 150 race and go from there. Not sure if the wind was a factor, but it didn’t seem to affect the No. 11 (Hamlin). I’m not exactly sure what to think right now.”
Locking up their starting spots for the Daytona 500 were Jimmie Johnson and Michael Waltrip. Johnson notched his second career Daytona 500 pole with a time of 48.109 seconds at 187.075 mph. Waltrip missed the top spot by .088 of a second as he turned a lap in 48.197 seconds at 186.734 mph. Fifty-three drivers made a qualifying attempt for the Daytona 500.
While today’s time trials locked in the front row, the remaining 40 positions will be determined via Thursday’s Gatorade Duel – twin 150-mile heat races that set the majority of the 43-car Daytona 500 field. Odd numbered teams in 2007 owner points will run the first race, while even numbered teams in 2007 owner points will compete in the second race. The top-35 teams in 2007 owner points are assured of advancing into the Daytona 500, as are the highest finishing teams in the 150-mile heat races not otherwise qualified, and the three fastest teams from time trials not otherwise qualified. If needed, the 43rd position will go to the most recent series champion not otherwise qualified.
As a result of each of Joe Gibbs Racing team’s even numbered point finish in 2007, all three cars will participate in the second Gatorade Duel race. Hamlin will start fifth, Stewart will start eighth and Busch will start 20th.
As far as manufacturers went, Chevrolet took the top spot via the pole-winning run made by Johnson. Toyota was next best at the hands of Waltrip. Carrying the flag for Ford was Travis Kvapil (48.398 seconds at 185.958 mph), who clocked the seventh-best time. Dodge completed the manufacturer lineup with rookie Patrick Carpentier posting the 11th-quickest time (48.448 seconds at 185.766 mph).
The Gatorade Duel gets underway at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 14 with live coverage provided by SPEED. The green flag waves for the Daytona 500 at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17 with live coverage provided by FOX. From Joe Gibbs Racing joegibbsracing.com