All Three Dodge Chargers Will Race In Sunday's Daytona 500.
Robby Gordon Races Way In; Keselowski, Allmendinger Ready For Big Show
(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012) - Brad Keselowski and A.J. Allmendinger approached Thursday's qualifying race (Gatorade Duel 1) at Daytona International Speedway as a tune-up for the Daytona 500. Their berth in "The Great American Race" was already secured. The 60-lap sprint was an opportunity to work on strategy for Sunday's 200-lap race.
It was a different story for Robby Gordon. He was one of seven drivers battling for two Daytona 500 berths that were on the line in the first Duel of the day. For much of the 150-mile event, it appeared a berth wasn't in the cards for Gordon. Actually, it looked like the No. 7 MAPEI/Menard's/SPEED Energy Dodge wouldn't complete the first lap. Smoke rolled from underneath his car. Although it wasn't terminal, Gordon still needed a bit of luck.
It came in the form of the second caution of the race on lap 54 that closed the field for a four-lap shootout to the checkered flag. Gordon took advantage of the opportunity, drafting his way into the top 10 and a berth in Sunday's field. He finished ninth.
"We made the Daytona 500," said Gordon. "Making the Daytona 500 is big; it's the big event in NASCAR racing. I'm proud of my team. We're going to have to do something on Sunday. This is our motor that we do with Arrington. If we can get a Penske motor for the 500, that's obviously going to be our No. 1 priority. If we can get one of their motors, I think we would be in better shape for the 500."
The right side of Keselowski's No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger sustained minor damage in a five-car mishap on lap nine. Although he continued, the objective was to finish the race and learn as much as the team could without sustaining more damage to the race car. He finished 13th.
"I thought that our Miller Lite Dodge was good, but not great," said Keselowski. "We didn't have the best strategy for the Duel because we had a bit of a different strategy. We're still working on the overall balance of the Miller Lite Dodge. It's changing. We're learning about it especially with this new spoiler. It helped to get out there and race in a pack. I think we have a better idea of where our car is at today than before the Duel."
The team will take a good look at the No. 2 Dodge and decide whether to make repairs or being out a backup. "Brad's car is a little iffy right now," said Penske Director of Competition Travis Geisler. "We thought that we would be able to get out of the Duel without incident. We have to take a close look Brad's car and see if we have to go to the backup. We're not sure yet. A quick glance at the car shows that it has some damage. We'll have to take a closer look to see it there is enough damage to make a change." Allmendinger flexed the muscle of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger several times in the race and was positioning himself to make a charge for the win.
"We've got a little bit of work to do," said Allmendinger. "I don't think we quite have the speed yet. The car drives really well. It was a good day. I thought we had a chance (to win) at it again and in these races it's all you can ask for. Hopefully, we can get through the 500 clean one more time."Starting Lineup
Daytona Int'l Speedway
1. Carl Edwards
2. Greg Biffle
3. Tony Stewart
4. Matt Kenseth
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6. Regan Smith
7. Marcos Ambrose
8. Jimmie Johnson
9. Jeff Burton
10. Elliott Sadler
15. A.J. Allmendinger
17. Robby Gordon
23. Brad Keselowski