Danica Patrick will not repeat as Daytona 500 pole sitter

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After being the first woman in NASCAR history to win the pole for last year’s Daytona 500, Danica Patrick will not be back at the front of the pack for next Sunday’s Great American Race.

Instead, she’ll start at or near the back of the pack.

In qualifying for the front row Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, Patrick was one of the first drivers to make a run for the pole. She recorded a speed of 192.28 mph on her first run and a faster 194.38 mph on her second lap around the 2.5-mile, high-banked track.

But Patrick ultimately wound up falling short in speed to early pole sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had a fast lap of 195.211 mph at 46.104 seconds.

When asked what she learned on her two-lap run, Patrick deadpanned, “Nothing,” but then gave credit to her Stewart Haas Racing crew, especially after she and teammate Tony Stewart suffered motor failures during Saturday morning’s practice session, forcing the team to put in new motors for both drivers’ qualifying efforts on Sunday.

Because of the engine change, Patrick, Stewart and Bobby Labonte will start at or near the back of the field for both Thursday’s Budweiser Twin 150 Duels and next Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500.

“I think I learned that lap was just for the guys (crew) and to reward them for putting it all back together, getting another engine in it, for working hard,” Patrick said. “I know we crashed a car last night (in the Sprint Unlimited), and to just say this is your hard work over the winter, and what you’ve put your blood, sweat and tears into to try and qualify for the pole again for the Daytona 500. They deserve to get a lap out there. It’s definitely disappointing knowing we’re starting from the back of, not so much the Duels, but the 500. I don’t understand it, but it’s what I have to do.”

Qualifying is continuing so check back for more updates here at NBCSports’ MotorSportsTalk.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.