Byline: Seth Livingstone
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.-- Sterling Marlin will turn to a backup car for Sunday's Daytona 500. Marlin slammed into the rear of Dale Jarrett during a caution for debris in the second Gatorade Duel qualifying race.
"I don't know what happened," said Marlin, who will be forced to start 39th in the 43-car field. "I reached down to look at my oil temperature, and when I looked back up everyone was dead stopped. The only silver lining is that our backup car should be as good as our primary. We came down here testing last month and had a tough time deciding which car to bring back, so that's a good sign for Sunday."
The caution, which created a green-white-checkered dash to the finish, was caused when Chad Chaffin blew a tire on the 58th lap.
A tire failure in the first race also ended the day for Paul Menard, who like Chaffin was seeking to crack the Daytona 500 field.
Small steps: Petty Enterprises took a solid first step in its return to prominence, taking two of the first 12 spots on the starting grid.
Bobby Labonte, driving the No.43, will have the Dodge on the outside of Row 4, after finishing fourth in the second Gatorade Duel. Kyle Petty, sixth in the same race, will put the No.45 Dodge on the outside of Row 6.
"Both cars had a good day, and Bobby drove his tail off," said Petty, whose team now has Jeff Gordon's former crew chief Robbie Loomis overseeing garage operations. "To put both cars in the top 10 in that group was great. I can't say enough about the Evernham engines. They've made huge gains on their restrictor-plate stuff."
Pit notes: Morgan-McClure Motorsports won't have a car in the 500 for the first time since 1984. The team, which won this race in 1991, '94 and '95, failed to make the field when Scott Wimmer finished 17th in the second qualifier. ... Dale Earnhardt Jr., forced to start at the back of the pack after an engine swap, rallied to finish third but wasn't speaking with the swagger of a week ago when he boldly predicted he had the car to beat. ... Mark Martin starts on the pole in Friday's Craftsman Truck Series race.
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Friday: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series GM Flex Fuel 250, Daytona Beach, Fla. (Speed Channel, 8p.m.); Crown Royal IROC Series, Daytona Beach (Speed Channel, 6p.m.).
Saturday: NASCAR Busch Series Hershey's Kissables 300, Daytona Beach (NBC, 1p.m.); Amp'd Mobile World Supercross GP/Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross Series, St. Louis.