For some, today's races are a last chance to get into this year's Daytona 500 ... others are just trying to make it through unscathed.
By KEVIN KELLY
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 15, 2001
DAYTONA BEACH -- Dale Jarrett has an idea of what he'd like to accomplish during his Twin 125-mile race today at Daytona International Speedway.
"We're just wanting to get through that 50 laps," said Jarrett, who will start beside Daytona 500 pole-winner Bill Elliott in the first race at noon. "But then you have guys in there that this is their season. That can make for a bad recipe if you're not careful."
The 50-lap races, with 26 drivers each, determine starting positions 3-30 for Sunday's race. Positions 31 through 36 are awarded based on qualifying speeds while the remaining seven spots are reserved for provisionals.
For Norm Benning, Morgan Shepherd and Dwayne Leik, the Twin 125s are the only chance for a Daytona 500 starting spot because their qualifying speeds were too slow. Leik's lap of 174.659 mph was nearly 9 mph slower than Elliott(183.565).
"Some of these guys, if they have to rip the sides off the car to get in the show, that's what they're going to have to do," said Tony Stewart, who won the Budweiser Shootout on Sunday and will start second in the second 125-mile event. "It's going to be pretty intense."
The races are most worrisome for Elliott and Stacy Compton, who qualified third Saturday but was bumped to the front row after Jerry Nadeau's car failed post-qualifying inspection.
Should either Elliott or Compton wreck and go to a backup car for the Daytona 500, they would forfeit their guaranteed front-row spot.
"If we do happen to get shuffled back, we're going to tiptoe," said Compton, who starts on the pole in the second race. "We don't want to take a chance on getting this car torn up. We're guaranteed to be in the show, but we'd like to start from that front row starting spot."
TODAY ON TV: Twin 125s, noon, Fox Sports Net.