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Dodge set to defend Daytona 500 championship

Posted Friday, Feb 13, 2009, 10:51 am in Employee Motorsports News

The 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season kicks off this weekend with the 51st running of the Daytona 500 at historic Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Fla.

Several pages were added to the Dodge Motorsports record book last year, as Dodge not only finished one-two in “The Great American Race,” but swept six of the first eight spots in the 200-lap event.


Penske Racing’s No. 12 Dodge Charger won last year’s event and has been on display in the Daytona 500 Experience complex for the past year. The winner of Sunday’s race will move into the spot on Monday morning.

Seven Dodge drivers will be looking to keep a Dodge in that area designated for the Daytona 500 championship car. Six of the seven Dodge teams were locked into the field prior to Thursday’s two 150-mile races, with AJ Allmendingerhaving to earn a berth.

Only two drivers transferred from each of the races on Thursday to the Daytona 500 lineup. Thanks to the drafting support of teammates Reed Sorenson and Elliott Sadler, Allmendinger claimed a spot in the prestigious event.

Handling is the key for success at Daytona and that will be the focus for the seven teams in the practice sessions scheduled during the next two days before the green flag Sunday for the Daytona 500.

Avoiding trouble in the close-quarter draft is essential through the first 400 miles of the race. Those that make it to that point without damage usually are the cars battling for the win in the last 100 miles. Ryan Newman did that last year and won the Daytona 500, with a push from teammate Kurt Busch who finished second.

Busch will be looking for his first Daytona 500 victory. He’s finished second three times, including last year.

“We have a top-15 starting spot (he starts 13th), so now we have to focus on getting our car to handle for 500 miles,” Busch said. “We’ll go to work tomorrow and Saturday with adjustments as we dial the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge in for the big race on Sunday.”

Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM):Led by the winningest team in NASCAR history, Richard Petty Motorsports (with 268 Cup victories since 1949) and Gillett Evernham Motorsports have combined forces to create Richard Petty Motorsports. The 2009 lineup includes four Dodge Chargers led by veterans Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge) and Elliott Sadler (No. 19 Dodge). Reed Sorenson (No. 43 Dodge) takes over the historic No. 43 car made legendary by “The King” Richard Petty, while AJ Allmendinger (No. 44 Dodge) joins RPM, rounding out the four-car team.

Penske Championship Racing(formerly Penske Racing): Entering its 19thconsecutive year in NASCAR competition and ninth with Dodge, the defending Daytona 500 championship team looks to build off its 1-2 finish at last season’s 50th running of the “Great American Race.” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch (No. 2 Dodge) will join teammates Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 77 Dodge) and former Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year David Stremme to the Cup Series lineup this season.

2009 Dodge Sprint Cup driver roster:

Kasey Kahne(No. 9 Budweiser Dodge, Richard Petty Motorsports): A three-time Sprint Cup winner in 2008 (Charlotte -1, Sprint All-Star, and Pocono-2), Kahne was the highest-finishing Dodge in the 2008 Sprint Cup point standings (14th). Entering his sixth season with RPM, Kahne has nine career wins along with 35 top-five and 65 top-10 finishes.

Elliott Sadler(No. 19 Stanley/Best Buy Dodge, Richard Petty Motorsports): After back-to-back top-15 finishes in the standings in 2004 and 2005, the Virginia native was 24th in the points last year. He has five consecutive finishes of 11th or better in the Daytona 500. He finished second in the 2002 event.

Reed Sorenson(No. 43 McDonalds Dodge, Richard Petty Motorsports): Sorenson is behind the wheel of the most successful number in NASCAR history—the No. 43 formerly driven by Richard Petty. Sorenson finished fifth in last year’s Daytona 500.

AJ Allmendinger(No. 44 Valvoline Dodge, Richard Petty Motorsports): Joining RPM for the final five races of the 2008 season, Allmendinger’s on-track performance earned him a contract for the 2009 season. He starts 20th in Sunday’s race.

Kurt Busch(No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, Penske Championship Racing): The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is arguably the best driver yet to win on a restrictor-plate track. The 18-time Sprint Cup winner made history in last season’s 50th running of the Daytona 500 when he pushed his former Penske Championship Racing teammate Ryan Newman to victory. The win was the first for team owner Roger Penske. Busch got off to a fast start last year, posting three top-10 finishes in the first six races.

David Stremme(No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge, Penske Championship Racing): Stremme returns to NASCAR’s premier series after a season as the test-driver for Penske Championship Racing in 2008. In his last full-time season (2007) in the Sprint Cup Series, Stremme generated three top-10 finishes and 15 top-20 efforts.

Sam Hornish Jr.(No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge, Penske Championship Racing): Hornish returns to Penske for his second season behind the wheel of the No. 77 Mobile 1 Dodge. The Raybestos Rookie of the Year runner-up last year had two top-15s, including the season opener—the 50th Anniversary of the Daytona 500.

What you need to know

The Race: Daytona 500
The Place: Daytona International Speedway
The Date: Sunday, February 15
The Time: 3:20 p.m. (ET)
The Track: 2.5-mile oval
The Distance: 200 laps
Television: Fox pre-race coverage begins at 2 p.m. (EST)
 

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Daytona 500 starting lineup

Daytona 500 starting lineup

Posted Friday, Feb 13, 2009, 10:52 am in Motorsports

Here is the starting lineup for the 51st running of the Daytona 500 scheduled to start 3:20 p.m. (ET) Sunday.

1. Martin Truex Jr.
2. Mark Martin
3. Jeff Gordon
4. Kyle Busch
5. Tony Stewart
6. Brian Vickers
7. Jimmie Johnson
8. Juan Pablo Montoya
9. Joey Logano
10. Denny Hamlin
11. Aric Almirola
12. Bobby Labonte
13. Kurt Busch (Dodge)
14. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
15. Kasey Kahne (Dodge)
16. Carl Edwards
17. Scott Riggs
18. Jeremy Mayfield
19. Paul Menard
20. AJ Allmendinger (Dodge)
21. Jamie McMurray
22. Clint Bowyer
23. Marcos Ambrose
24. David Stremme (Dodge)
25. Casey Mears
26. Jeff Burton
27. Michael Waltrip
28. Michael Waltrip
29. Sam Hornish Jr. (Dodge)
30. Elliott Sadler (Dodge)
31. Robby Gordon
32. Kevin Harvick
33. David Ragan
34. Reed Sorenson (Dodge)
35. Greg Biffle
36. Ryan Newman
37. John Andretti
38. Scott Speed
39. Matt Kenseth
40. Bill Elliott
41. Travis Kvapil
42. Regan Smith
43. Terry Labonte
 
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