February 21, 2014

Daytona notes: Patrick says new qualifying format could be ‘disaster’

Daytona notes

Danica Patrick, who qualified third for Saturday’s Nationwide race as NASCAR used its elimination qualifying format for the first time, said the new system has the potential to be “a disaster.”

She said it will lead to flared tempers at some tracks.

“Like when we go to short tracks, when we go to places like Bristol, Martinsville, Phoenix, can’t even imagine. I mean, short tracks in general are going to be a really big challenge,” she said. “And then you’ve got mile-and-a-halfs when we’re going a lot faster. There are going to be some where you find drivers really mad at other drivers, or spotters mad at other spotters.

“If NASCAR was looking at making it interesting for fans, they’ve done that.”

Rookie Dylan Kwasniewski, who qualified first, credited Patrick for creating a line that he and second qualifier Kyle Larson could follow to get their speed up.

No front row

No. 2 qualifier Martin Truex Jr. will have to drop to the back of the field at the start Sunday because he’ll have to use a backup car after the crash Thursday night.

“It doesn’t matter where you start, anyway,” he said. “We’ll be fine. I just hate it for the guys who got the front-row starting spot. That was all their work, and it stinks that they can’t keep it.”

Truex said his backup car can do the job.

“They say it is just as good, so I’m sure it will be fine,” he said.

Johnson apology

Jimmie Johnson apologized for causing the crash in the second qualifying Duels race that wrecked so many cars. He said he ran out of gas, and that caused the trouble.

“To tear up that many race cars, to see the No. 15 flip, I feel terrible,” he said. “I tried to get up out of the way. I had my hand out of the side. But last lap, coming to the checkered, there is so much energy in the pack that I knew I was going to get run over if I ran out.

“I ran out of gas, man, at the most inopportune time, right in front of everybody. Thankfully, it looks like everybody is OK.”

Harvick to the back

Kevin Harvick has to go to the back at the start of Sunday’s race because the track bar on his No. 4 Chevrolet failed inspection.

Team competition official Greg Zipadelli said the bar should have been adjusted before inspection.

“For something that, honestly, as little as it was probably didn’t amount to anything other than changing the handling characteristics of the car, we needed a little bit of an adjustment during the race,” Harvick said. “It’s disappointing because it knocks the wind out of your sails. You had a good car, had a great run, did a great job. Just a little setback. But we’ll have a few of our cars back there. We’ll team up and haul to the front.”

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