Wednesday, 21 February, 2018

Patrick arrives in Daytona for 1st stop of 'Danica Double'

Danica Patrick speaks with the media during a news conference before Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Homestead Miami Speedway in Homestead Fla. Friday Nov. 17 2017. Patrick will end her full-time racing career after running in this year's Dayt As Long as Kyle Larson's 42 Car Is on the Track, He's Got a Fighting Chance to Win
Glenn Montgomery | 15 February, 2018, 02:35

She is racing in the Daytona 500 next Sunday, a one-off before her official retirement from stock-car racing.

Denny Hamlin will line up alongside Bowman after recording a speed of 195.092 miles per hour in his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to nab the second starting spot for the "Great American Race".

Earnhardt, who had 17 career wins at Daytona and seven poles and is a two-time Daytona 500 victor, congratulated Bowman, tweeting, "Awesome!"

Earnhardt was quite impressed by Bowman and the No. 88 team's performance.

"We knew we were going for the pole, that's what we're here to do", Bowman said. "The reality of it will probably be a little bit more sad than what I'm making it out to be right now, but I'm ready".

The 20-year-old Byron, one of four Cup drivers at Hendrick Motorsports, takes online classes at Liberty University. "I've earned every good and bad thing that's happened to me through the decisions I've made and the actions I've taken - both positive and negative".

But Earnhardt retired at the end of last season and the empty seat went to Bowman, who drove 10 races filling in for Earnhardt when Earnhardt was sidelined in 2016 with a concussion.

The rest, as they say, is history. This week, he dishes on one of NASCAR's best wheelmen-and his choice to take the checkered flag at The Great American Race.

"I don't know if we quite figured it out yet. Just so thankful to be able to do this, I'm very blessed to be able to call driving a racecar my job and now I get to drive what I think is the best racecar in the business, it's a dream come true". "I'm very blessed to be able to call driving a race vehicle my job, and now to get to drive what I think is the best race auto in the business". Hamlin is the 2016 Daytona 500 victor, but has never started on the front row for the sport's biggest race. He has coursework due every Monday, but in anticipation of being focused on preparing for the Daytona 500 he turned in his assignments early before traveling to Daytona International Speedway. Last season, Truex started 35th in the Daytona 500 and finished 13th.

"I realistically set my expectations and would have been happy with 18th", Hamlin said. His Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick had the fastest Ford at eighth and was followed by Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who won two plate races last season. "But when I think next Sunday comes, I'm sure I'll be a lot more retrospective or introspective and emotional about the finality of it".

"It all came together too late", she said Saturday.

Danica Patrick was 28th in her final NASCAR single-car qualifying session.

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