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Stewart, Kenseth win Daytona qualifiers

  |   Feb. 23, 2012 at 8:09 PM
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth won the two qualifying races Thursday that determined the starting lineup for Sunday's Daytona 500.

Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle had already captured the front row for NASCAR's big race by turning in the top two qualifying times last weekend, but the rest of the field was set by the traditional 60-lap races at the Daytona International Speedway.

Stewart fought off Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the first 150-mile race, which finished under caution when Danica Patrick was involved in a last-lap crash.

Patrick, making her Sprint Cup debut this week, came in contact with the car driven by Aric Almirola and slammed hard into the retaining wall along the backstretch. She was credited with 16th place. Patrick, who was not hurt in the crash, will have to switch to a backup car and will thus start at the back of the field Sunday.

Stewart will start third in the Daytona 500 and Kenseth will be in the fourth position. Kenseth edged Regan Smith by 0.2 of a second in the concluding race.

Michael Waltrip, who has run in the last 25 Daytona 500s and won the race twice, will see that streak end after he failed to qualify in the opening race.

Also failing to qualify were Bill Elliott, Robert Richardson Jr., Kenny Wallace, Mike Wallace and J.J. Yeley. Elliott won the race 1985 and 1987 and was the series champion in 1988.

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