In 2011, South Bend-born Ryan Newman qualified for the Daytona 500 in the No. 21 position. He finished the race in 22nd place, and suffice to say will be putting a strong emphasis on improving his pole position for the 2012 Dayton 500, which will take place a week from now on February 26. If Newman finishes in one of the top two spots in today's qualifying, he'll be locked into the top of the grid come next Sunday, if not, he'll move onto the 2012 Gatorade Duels. Here's SB Nation's Jeff Gluck on the entire process:
What happens today? Officially, the Daytona 500 qualifying session only locks in two spots: The pole position and the outside pole position. But it will also allow three other drivers – who don't have a guaranteed spot in the 500 – to clinch a berth in the race based on their speed. The rest of the non-guaranteed drivers will have to rely on Thursday's Gatorade Duels to try and make the field. The Duels set the starting order for the Daytona 500, except for the two top spots decided today.
Race date/time: Sunday, February 19, 2012, 12:05 p.m. CST
Location: Daytona Speedway, Daytona, Fla.
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