Greg Ives instructed Earnhardt to go flat-out at the start of Friday's first practice session because the rules state the field will be set by practice times if a qualifying session is canceled. When rain washed out the Saturday session, Ives proved to be a skilled weatherman.
"I asked Greg before we went out to practice what we were trying to accomplish in that first practice and that was the first thing he mentioned, was to go out that first run and try to put a lap down because the weather wasn't looking real good," Earnhardt said. "That was his decision. It ended up working out for us."
NASCAR's most popular driver is a two-time
"That will be great to have that first stall because if we have a shot to win this race, we are going to need to be up on the front row toward those last couple of restarts," he said. "I think that leading the race at the end is the best place to be. That pit selection will give us an opportunity to be more competitive on pit road trying to get that sought after position coming off pit road that final stop."
"I'm pretty bummed that it rained out — we were on a heck of a streak this year, with two poles on the superspeedways," Gordon said. "I wanted to keep that going and I felt like our car had some really good speed and that we had a shot at doing that."
Gordon is aware that this is his final event at Daytona but wasn't feeling sentimental. He'll be back to the track next year as a television analyst for Fox.
"It's hard for me to really put all those thoughts and feelings into perspective, knowing that I have half the season still to go," Gordon said. "I don't think it's really going to hit me until we get further down into the final part of the season, but this place has meant a lot. It's going to be tough not coming back here and being behind the wheel. But I'm also really excited about calling this race next February."
The qualifying washout meant
It was a big blow for Blaney, who had an engine failure in his Daytona 500 debut but was the lone Ford capable of competing for the win at Talladega in May. He finished fourth and might have had a shot at the victory, but few drivers were confident enough in the rookie to work with him in the closing laps.
But that performance earned him enough respect that he might have been able to contend and get drafting help on Sunday.