Daytona Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Tony
Stewart won Thursday's first of two Gatorade Duel qualifying races for the
Daytona 500, while his teammate, Danica Patrick, crashed hard into the wall on
the final lap at Daytona International Speedway.
Stewart held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Marcos Ambrose before the opening 150-
mile qualifier ended under caution when Patrick made contact with Aric
Almirola and slammed into the inside wall along the backstretch. Stewart
secured the third starting position for the Daytona 500. Carl Edwards and Greg
Biffle locked down the front starting row during last Sunday's time trials at
Patrick, who competed in a Sprint Cup event for the first time, climbed out of
her battered car uninjured. She wound up finishing 16th. Patrick will use a
back up car and start from the rear of the field in Sunday's Daytona 500.
Michael McDowell's fourth-place finish and Robby Gordon's fifth-place run
allowed both drivers to race their way into the Daytona 500. Gordon started
the qualifier with a tire rub, as he fell back in the field with smoke pluming
from the side of his car on the opening lap. He took advantage of an early-
race caution to drive onto pit road for repairs.
The big incident in the first race occurred on lap nine when David Gilliland
got loose and shot up the track before collecting Juan Pablo Montoya and Paul
Menard in turn one. All three drivers will also use their back up cars for the
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