Despite the fact that neither Danica Patrick, Tony Stewart or Bobby Labonte were to blame when their engines blew during the second round of practice at Daytona on Saturday, all three drivers were penalized by NASCAR who forced them to forfeit their starting positions in both the Budweiser Twin 150 Duels qualifying race and Daytona 500 and start at the back of the pack in each.
Patrick and Stewart who drive for Stewart-Haas Racing, and Labonte of HScott Motorsports were all using motors supplied by Hendricks when their engines failed during their qualifying runs Saturday, though none of Hendrick Motorsport’s own cars suffered any problems.
The ruling has left Patrick (who won pole in the 2013 Daytona 500, but finished 8th) feeling extremely “deflated, stating that it was like “being punished twice.”
"It's very unfortunate," Patrick said Sunday at Daytona International Speedway. "It sucks to know that no matter what you do (in qualifying), it doesn't matter at all. I have to start in the back for the Budweiser Twin 150 Duels on Thursday and the 500, and I don't understand why because everyone has to change their engine again."
Stewart, on the other hand, seemed to take the matter more in stride.
"If you can't get to the front in 500 miles, you're not going to get there anyway, so it doesn't matter where you start," he stated. "I guess I don't have any feelings about it because I think we have a car that can go up and win the 500 regardless of where we start. I'm more worried about getting my car ready for Sunday.
In the meantime, rookie Austin Dillon is still floating on cloud 9 after wining the pole for this Sunday’s 56th running of the Daytona 500 after piloting Dale Earnhardt Sr’s old No. 3 at a speed of 196.019 mph. Dillon, who races for his grandfather Richard Childress’s team finished 31st in last year’s race.