NASCAR DRIVER Danica Patrick’s car slides down the track after a crash during the first of two NASCAR Daytona Duel 150 qualifying auto races in Daytona Beach, Fla. on Thursday. Patrick was uninjured in the crash and will drive her backup car in Sunday’s kickoff race to the NASCAR 2012 season.

NASCAR DRIVER Danica Patrick’s car slides down the track after a crash during the first of two NASCAR Daytona Duel 150 qualifying auto races in Daytona Beach, Fla. on Thursday. Patrick was uninjured in the crash and will drive her backup car in Sunday’s kickoff race to the NASCAR 2012 season.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Roush Fenway Racing will have three cars at the front of the season-opening Daytona 500.

Matt Kenseth won the second of the twin 150-mile qualifying races Thursday with a bold pass of teammate Greg Biffle. The victory gave Kenseth a spot on the second row for Sunday’s race — right behind teammates Carl Edwards and Biffle.

Tony Stewart, the defending NASCAR champion, won the first race and will line up next to Kenseth at Daytona International Speedway.

Biffle was leading headed into the final lap, but he tried to block Kenseth, who dove to the inside and used a push from Jimmie Johnson to take the lead.

Robby Gordon and Michael McDowell earned the two spots up for grabs in the first race, while Joe Nemechek and Dave Blaney each raced their way into the 500 in the second qualifying race.

Two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip failed to qualify for the race after wrecking as he tried to return to the track surface after a late pit stop. The accident means it will be the first time since 1972 neither

Darrell Waltrip or Michael Waltrip will be in NASCAR’s biggest race of the season.

The two qualifying races could not have been more different, and both were far calmer than Saturday night’s exhibition Daytona 500.

The first race on Thursday had one early five-car accident that began when McDowell ran into David Gilliland, who shot directly into Juan Pablo Montoya and Paul Menard.

Menard then questioned the style of racing NASCAR has created.

On the last lap of the race, with Stewart trying to hold off Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a race to the checkered flag, Danica Patrick was wrecked as the pack raced down the backstretch.

Patrick was hit by Aric Almirola as they raced along the backstretch. The contact sent her car sliding across the track and into an inside retaining wall. Her Chevrolet lifted off its wheels as it hit the SAFER barrier, which noticeably softened the blow.

She was not injured and will make her Daytona 500 debut on Sunday.

“It happened really quick,” she said. “We were just looking to finish, to be honest, and unfortunately that wasn’t the case.”


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