HolyCoast: Gatorade Duels at Daytona

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gatorade Duels at Daytona

The next step in the qualifying process for the Daytona 500 starts at 11:00 am PST with the Gatorade Duels, two 150 miles races each featuring half the cars trying to get in the race.  Thirty-nine of those cars already have a guaranteed spot in Sunday's race, but there are still four spots left.  The top two finishers in each qualifying race who haven't already got a spot in the race will run on Sunday.  Making the race or missing it means the difference between a paycheck of at least $240,000...or nothing.

A car can start the Daytona 500, run one lap and then put it in the garage and collect 43rd place money which will be at least $240K.  That's why you have so-called "start and park" cars, teams just trying to get enough money to keep going.

With the exception of the front row of the starting grid, which was set during qualifying last Sunday, the races today will set the starting order for Sunday's race.  It may also be a huge setback for some teams.  Some will miss the race and will have spend many thousands of dollars for nothing.  Others may damage or destroy their primary cars in today's race, and that means possibly rolling out a back-up car and starting at the back of the field.  Given the dollars they spend to prepare those cars, today's races are a risky venture.

There should be lots of drama, so if you can't watch live, set the DVR.

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