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Jun 21, 2014 - 05:09 PM
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Traffic Jam Knocks Earnhardt Out Of Top 12 At Sonoma
Posted by: ASkyler on Jun 21, 2014 - 05:06 PM
Feature Articles
Traffic Jam Knocks Earnhardt Out Of Top 12 At Sonoma


By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

SONOMA, Calif.—Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a strong qualifying lap in the works on Saturday morning at Sonoma Raceway until he ran up behind a slower car in the racing groove.

With his progress impeded, Earnhardt failed to advance to the final round of the first knockout qualifying session on a road course and had to settle for the 17th starting spot for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350, the 16th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season.

"We had a good lap going, but the No. 66 (Tomy Drissi) ran in the racing groove on his get up (to speed) lap and didn’t get out of the way," said Earnhardt, who had been fast in both of Friday’s practice sessions. "We missed the top 12. We would have made it.

"We ran about a tenth slower than our best lap going around him on the outside of Turn 9. That’s real disappointing, but the car has been great. Hopefully, we’ll be able to have a good run Sunday starting kind of mid-pack. It’s going to be a little busy where we are going to be, but hopefully we can move forward."

 

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UNPLEASANT SURPRISE

Clint Bowyer was at a loss to explain what happened between Friday’s final practice session, where his No. 15 Toyota was fastest, and Saturday morning’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session, where the Michael Waltrip Racing driver was much slower than expected.

Bowyer could do no better than 25th fastest in the first round of knockout qualifying at the 1.99-mile road course. That will be his position on the grid for the start of Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350.

"Well, that wasn’t what we expected," Bowyer said after qualifying, in the understatement of the day. "We were fast all day (Friday)—just didn’t have enough grip and missed Turn 4.

But Bowyer was philosophical.

"We’ll just have to pass a few more cars (on Sunday)."

WHO NEEDS PRACTICE?

Danica Patrick’s No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet didn’t spend much time in qualifying trim on Friday at Sonoma Raceway. In fact, Patrick made only one mock qualifying run during both practice sessions combined.

But that didn’t prevent her from advancing to the second round of knockout qualifying on Saturday morning. Patrick was sixth fastest in the first round. In the second, she secured the 11th spot on the grid for Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350.

"The GoDaddy car was pretty good," Patrick said after time trials. "We only made one qualifying run yesterday, but it felt good in the opening round today.

"It just got tight in the second session and we ended up 11th. We would have liked it to be better, but we’ll take it."

And it gave representatives from her primary sponsor something to look forward to.

"We’ve got a lot of folks from GoDaddy here (Sunday)," Patrick said, "so I’m happy we are starting up front."

Patrick started 31st and finished 29th at Sonoma last year, so she’s already well ahead of her 2013 pace.


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