Date: July 4, 2014
Event: Coke Zero 400 Qualifying (Round 18 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Pole Winner: David Gilliland of Front Row Motorsports (45.153 seconds at 199.322 mph)
SHR Lineup: Tony Stewart (12th, 45.346 seconds at 198.474 mph)
Kevin Harvick (13th, 45.347 seconds at 198.470 mph)
Danica Patrick (29th, 45.518 seconds at 197.724 mph)
Kurt Busch (40th, 45.971 seconds at 195.776 mph)
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Ducks Unlimited Chevrolet SS, led the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) contingent Friday at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway by qualifying 12th for the Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night. Stewart turned a lap of 45.346 seconds at 198.474 mph on the 2.5-mile oval.
Qualifying consisted of one 25-minute round, as rounds two and three were rained out. Per NASCAR rules, the line-up was set by the 43 fastest speeds in the first round.
“This is one of those deals where there isn’t a lot that you have control over as far as putting down a fast lap other than just trying to be in the right line at the right time but we got a good starting spot for our Bass Pro Shops/Ducks Unlimited Chevrolet,” said Stewart, who is a four-time winner of the Coke Zero 400 (2005, 2006, 2009 and 2012). “What matters is tomorrow night and we have a pretty good plan. If we can stay out of trouble and execute it the way we know how, we’ll be in good shape.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, qualified 13th with a time of 45.347 seconds at 198.470 mph.
“Qualifying was a better spot for us than it would have been if we had gone on practice speeds,” said Harvick of knockout qualifying at a restrictor-plate track, where drivers had to use the draft to set a fast time. “The new qualifying format is great. It is probably not 100 percent refined for superspeedway racing yet. It was a definitely a chess game. It worked out okay because our car is still rolling.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Florida Lottery/GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 29th with a time of 45.518 seconds at 197.724 mph.
“It wasn’t really what we wanted,” said Patrick, whose best Sprint Cup finish at Daytona is eighth, earned in the 2013 Daytona 500. “We just couldn’t quite get organized to get a good lap. But, it doesn’t matter where you start and this place is a wild card and anything can happen. I’m looking forward to tomorrow night in our Florida Lottery/GoDaddy Chevrolet.”
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation “America’s Machine Tool” Chevrolet SS for SHR, qualified 40th with a time of 45.971 seconds at 195.776 mph.
“That was disappointing” said Busch, who has led a total of 254 laps in 27 career point-paying, Sprint Cup races at Daytona. “I think we have a fast Haas Automation Chevrolet, but never got to go turn a fast lap. I wanted to go fast, but it just wasn’t happening out there today. I’ll start near the back, but we should be fine for the race.
David Gilliland led the first round of knockout qualifying when the rain came and took the pole with a lap of 45.153 seconds at 199.322 mph. It was Gilliland’s third career Sprint Cup pole, his first of the season and his second at Daytona.
Reed Sorenson will start on the outside of row one after clocking in at 45.176 seconds at 199.221 mph.
The remainder of the top 12 were Landon Cassill, Bobby Labonte, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., David Ragan, Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and Stewart. All are listed in the order they’ll start the race.
The Coke Zero 400 gets underway at 7:30 p.m. EDT Saturday with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with a pre-race show at 6:30 p.m.