DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- When Danica Patrick
sat down in the media center after her historic Daytona 500 pole-winning effort, she was asked what the plan was for her Budweiser Duel qualifying race Thursday.
Patrick looked puzzled. She turned to her crew chief, Tony Gibson.
"I have no idea," Patrick said. "Tony, what am I supposed to do?"
Gibson: "Don't put yourself in any bad positions."
Sound advice, but not so easy to follow.
The two Daytona 500 qualifying races are NASCAR's version of a catch-22. It's 60 laps (150 miles) of weighing your options. You want to race hard and try to win, but not so hard that you risk wrecking your best [COLOR=#3188ff !important]car
[/color] before the big race.
It's especially true for the drivers who start first in each race. The two fastest drivers from Pole
If they wreck their primary car in their Duel race and have to go to a backup car, they will start in the back for the 500. That's true for any driver, but it's extra painful if you throw away a front-row spot.