Saturday, February 26, 2011

Clint Bowyer Wins Pole for Nationwide Race at Daytona, Danica Fourth

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Up until the final few minutes of Friday's NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying, it looked as if IndyCar star-turned-NASCAR newbie Danica Patrick may just have landed herself the pole position at stock car's most famous track, Daytona International Speedway.

Midway through the session Patrick laid down the fastest lap of the afternoon bumping veteran Carl Edwards off the top spot and igniting a buzz around the garage area. Had her lap stood, she would have been the first woman to win a Nationwide Series pole since Shawna Robinson did it in March 1994.

Instead, another newcomer, Landon Cassill, knocked Patrick out of the top spot only to have Sprint Cup Series veteran Clint Bowyer come in and better them both. Bowyer's lap of 180.821 mph in the Kevin Harvick-owned No. 33 Rheem Chevrolet earned the former series champ the pole position for Saturday's DRIVE4COPD 300 and stifled the building frenzy around a possible Patrick front row start.

Cassill will start alongside him while another late qualifier Dale Earnhardt Jr,. took the third position. He'll start next to Patrick on the second row; he owns both cars.

This is only Patrick's 13th Nationwide Series start in her highly-publicized racing double as a full-time driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series and a part-timer in NASCAR's second-tier Nationwide circuit.

"It's been a fast car the whole time we've been here,'' Patrick said, as she watched the remaining few cars qualify. "No matter what happens now, it'll be a good starting position. This is a big deal and for it to come at Daytona, it's 10 times a bigger deal.''


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