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Martin Truex takes off quickly at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH — Less is more for Martin Truex and his new No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet.

Despite having virtually no track time, Truex qualified second Sunday for the Daytona 500 after a lap of 195.852 mph during qualifying at the 2½-mile Daytona International Speedway. He'll start next to pole-sitter Austin Dillon on the front row for Sunday's Daytona 500.

"It's pretty amazing to not test and run one run (in Saturday's practice)," Truex said after qualifying. "Literally, this was only the second time the car had been on the racetrack, and it shows what kind of race car this team builds, and I'm just proud to be the one holding the gas on the floor (Sunday)."

"At the end of the day, if we can keep him (Truex) talking and not practicing — the less we practice, the better we're going to be," crew chief Todd Berrier joked.

Last year Truex raced for Michael Waltrip's organization but lost the ride after controversy at the regular-season finale at Richmond. NASCAR ruled Waltrip's operation engineered chicanery by its drivers in the closing laps to help Truex get a spot in the Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship. Longtime sponsor NAPA withdrew its support, and Truex left.

Richard Childress Racing placed several drivers among the top 10 in qualifying including Dillon, Ryan Newman (fifth) and Paul Menard (10). Truex's car features an engine developed by RCR.

Ruling rued: Danica Patrick is upset with a rule forcing her and several other drivers to the back of the pack for the 500 after engine changes Saturday. Cars must start at the rear of the field of both the 500 and Thursday's 150-mile Duels after unapproved engine changes.

"It's definitely disappointing, knowing that we're starting from the back of — not so much the Duels — the 500," Patrick said after qualifying Sunday. "I don't understand it, but it's what I have to do."

Stewart-Haas teammate Tony Stewart also had to change because of an engine issue, as did Bobby Labonte.

Pace car fire: Chevrolet released a statement confirming that the pace car fire during Saturday's Sprint Unlimited race started in the trunk area, where an auxiliary electrical kit operating the caution lights malfunctioned. Nobody was injured.

On the run: Cup drivers Waltrip and Jimmie Johnson were among more than 1,500 runners in Sunday morning's Daytona Beach Half Marathon.

Martin Truex takes off quickly at Daytona 02/16/14 [Last modified: Sunday, February 16, 2014 10:49pm]
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