Glance at drivers in the 2011 Daytona 500 Print
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Friday, 18 February 2011 12:16
NASCAR Headline News

 A look at drivers competing in the 2011 Daytona 500, in order of starting position:
No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
DRIVER: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
BORN: Oct. 10, 1974
HOMETOWN: Kannapolis, N.C.
CREW CHIEF: Steve Letarte
SPONSOR: Mountain Dew/AMP Energy/National Guard
NOTES: NASCAR's most popular driver won the Daytona 500 pole, then wrecked in practice on Wednesday. Now, he'll start Sunday's race at the back of the field. Earnhardt was a non-factor on the track for the fourth consecutive year in 2010. Earnhardt finished 21st in points. With teammates Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon also struggling, owner Rick Hendrick shook up most of the four-car team. Will another new crew chief and a shop change be enough to overhaul Junior's fortunes?
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No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
DRIVER: Jeff Gordon
BORN: Aug. 4, 1971
HOMETOWN: Pittsboro, Ind.
CREW CHIEF: Alan Gustafson
SPONSOR: Drive To End Hunger/DuPont
NOTES: After a winless season, Gordon was one of three drivers shuffled at Hendrick Motorsports. He moved out of the 24/48 shop into the building now known as the 5/24 shop. The four-time series champion is paired with crew chief Gustafson.
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No. 22 Dodge, Penske Racing
DRIVER: Kurt Busch
BORN: Aug. 4, 1978
HOMETOWN: Las Vegas
CREW CHIEF: Steve Addington
SPONSOR: Shell/Pennzoil
NOTES: Is Busch the one to beat? He already has won two events during Speedweeks, the exhibition Budweiser Shootout last weekend and a qualifying race Thursday. The first Chase winner in its 2004 debut, Busch has been a steady performer as the flagship Dodge driver. He's got a new car number and a new sponsor this year, looking to improve on his 11th-place finish in the standings last season.
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No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
DRIVER: Jeff Burton
BORN: June 29, 1967
HOMETOWN: South Boston, Va.
CREW CHIEF: Todd Berrier
SPONSOR: Caterpillar
NOTES: Burton edged teammate Clint Bowyer in the second qualifying race Thursday and has been fast throughout Speedweeks. He flirted with Victory Lane several times at the start of last season, but faded and finished 12th in the final standings. His winless streak stretches two seasons.
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No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Motorsports
DRIVER: Regan Smith
BORN: Sept. 23, 1983
HOMETOWN: Cato, N.Y.
CREW CHIEF: Pete Rondeau
SPONSOR: Furniture Row
NOTES: Smith surprised everyone with a second-place finish in a qualifying race Thursday, but he also was criticized for failing to make a strong move for the win. The Denver-based team is coming off its best season since entering NASCAR's top series in 2005. Smith qualified for all 36 races in 2010 and came on strong late, with six top-20 finishes in the final 12 races.
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No. 33 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
DRIVER: Clint Bowyer
BORN: May 30, 1979
HOMETOWN: Emporia, Kan.
CREW CHIEF: Shane Wilson
SPONSOR: Cheerios/Hamburger Helper
NOTES: Like teammates Burton and Kevin Harvick, Bowyer has been strong during Speedweeks. He won the opening race in the Chase, only to be docked 150 points when NASCAR ruled his car was illegal. It took him out of championship contention, but he earned some redemption with a win at Talladega in October.
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No. 29 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
DRIVER: Kevin Harvick
BORN: Dec. 8, 1975
HOMETOWN: Bakersfield, Calif.
CREW CHIEF: Gil Martin
SPONSOR: Budweiser
NOTES: Happy is indeed living up to his nickname after a resurgence last season put him atop the points standings for most of the regular season. He finished third behind Jimmie Johnson and Hamlin in the final standings and is convinced he can win the championship this season.
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No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing
DRIVER: Michael Waltrip
BORN: April 30, 1963
HOMETOWN: Owensboro, Ky.
CREW CHIEF: Bobby Kennedy
SPONSOR: NAPA Auto Parts
NOTES: The two-time Daytona 500 champion raced his way into the 2011 season opener. So he'll be behind the wheel 10 years after his first Cup victory and in a car that looks similar to the one he took to Victory Lane in 2001, the day his boss, Dale Earnhardt, died on the final lap.
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No. 17 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
DRIVER: Matt Kenseth
BORN: March 10, 1972
HOMETOWN: Cambridge, Wis.
CREW CHIEF: Jimmy Fennig
SPONSOR: Crown Royal/Valvoline
NOTES: Went winless in 2010 - the second time in three years - and finished fifth in the points as RFR tried unsuccessfully to fill the crew chief role left vacant when Robbie Reiser was promoted to competition director at the end of 2007. Will try to get back to Victory Lane with veteran crew chief Fennig.
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No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing
DRIVER: Kyle Busch
BORN: May 2, 1985
HOMETOWN: Las Vegas
CREW CHIEF: Dave Rogers
SPONSOR: M&Ms
NOTES: Busch, who got married during the offseason, is hoping for the maturity to get him through a complete season. Won three races last season but stumbled in the Chase, finishing eighth.
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No. 4 Toyota, Red Bull Racing
DRIVER: Kasey Kahne
BORN: April 10, 1980
HOMETOWN: Enumclaw, Wash.
CREW CHIEF: Kenny Francis
SPONSOR: Red Bull
NOTES: Spending one season with Red Bull Racing before he moves in 2011 to Hendrick Motorsports to replace Mark Martin. Finished 20th in points last season and went winless. Is hoping for a fresh start with Red Bull.
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No. 92 Dodge, K-Automotive
DRIVER: Brian Keselowski
BORN: Sept. 2, 1981
HOMETOWN: Rochester Hills, Mich.
CREW CHIEF: Bob Keselowski
SPONSOR: TBD
NOTES: With his little brother, Brad, pushing him the final laps, Brian Keselowski raced his way into the Daytona 500 and will make his Sprint Cup debut in the season opener. Brian Keselowski's phone hasn't stopped ringing since the qualifying race, with fellow owners offering tires and a new engine, and companies starting to sponsor him for the ``Great American Race.''
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No. 42 Chevrolet, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing
DRIVER: Juan Pablo Montoya
BORN: Sept. 20, 1975
HOMETOWN: Bogota, Colombia
CREW CHIEF: Brian Pattie
SPONSOR: Target
NOTES: Following a breakthrough season in 2009, Montoya missed the Chase in 2010 and finished a disappointing 17th. He enjoyed 14 top-10 finishes, but those were offset by eight DNFs. He has wins at NASCAR's two road courses, Sonoma and Watkins Glen, but still is looking for his first victory at an oval track.
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No. 1 Chevrolet, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing
DRIVER: Jamie McMurray
BORN: June 3, 1976
HOMETOWN: Joplin, Mo.
CREW CHIEF: Kevin ``Bono'' Manion
SPONSOR: Bass Pro Shops
NOTES: McMurray grabbed three big wins last season, the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400 and at Charlotte in October. He finished 14th in points, but the three wins would have made him eligible for the Chase under the new wild card rule going into effect this season.
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No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports
DRIVER: AJ Allmendinger
BORN: Dec. 16, 1981
HOMETOWN: Los Gatos, Calif.
CREW CHIEF: Mike Shiplett
SPONSOR: Best Buy
NOTES: Amid financial concerns at Petty, Allmendinger posted three top-15 finishes in the final five races, including a fifth-place showing in the season finale. RPM got its finances straight with help from investor Andrew Murstein, dropped from four cars to two cars and has high hopes for 2011.
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No. 2 Dodge, Penske Racing
DRIVER: Brad Keselowski
BORN: Feb. 12, 1984
HOMETOWN: Rochester Hills, Mich.
CREW CHIEF: Paul Wolfe
SPONSOR: Miller Lite
NOTES: Continued to ruffle feathers last season, his first full year in the Sprint Cup Series. Finished 25th in the Cup standings with only two top-10 finishes. Won the Nationwide Series championship but isn't eligible to defend his title this season under a rule limiting drivers to race for only one championship.
--- No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
DRIVER: Mark Martin
BORN: Jan. 9, 1959
HOMETOWN: Batesville, Ark.
CREW CHIEF: Lance McGrew
SPONSOR: Go.Daddy.com/Delphi/Quaker State
NOTES: Just one season removed from his second-place finish in the standings, Martin went winless and missed the Chase. He's in the final year of his contract with Hendrick but says he'll race in some capacity in 2011. Was part of the massive offseason shake-up at HMS that landed him with crew chief McGrew.
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No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing
DRIVER: Denny Hamlin
BORN: Nov. 18, 1980
HOMETOWN: Chesterfield, Va.
CREW CHIEF: Mike Ford
SPONSOR: FedEx
NOTES: Narrowly missed out on winning his first NASCAR championship when he blew his points lead in the season finale at Homestead. Still finished with eight wins and second in the standings, both career highs. Insists he'll make another run at the title this year.
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No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing
DRIVER: Paul Menard
BORN: Aug. 21, 1980
HOMETOWN: Eau Claire, Wis.
CREW CHIEF: Richard ``Slugger'' Labbe
SPONSOR: Menard's
NOTES: Menard moved to RCR after a stint with Richard Petty Motorsports. As the fourth team at RCR, he'll have to avoid triggering the slump that occurred when RCR unsuccessfully tried four teams in 2009.
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No. 56 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing
DRIVER: Martin Truex Jr.
BORN: June 29, 1980
HOMETOWN: Mayetta, N.J.
CREW CHIEF: Pat Tryson
SPONSOR: NAPA Auto Parts
NOTES: Truex enters his second season at MWR looking to make a big jump. Truex had seven top-10s in 2010 and finished 22nd in points. He showed promise late, posting four top-15 finishes in the final six races.
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No. 39 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing
DRIVER: Ryan Newman
BORN: Dec. 8, 1977
HOMETOWN: South Bend, Ind.
CREW CHIEF: Tony Gibson
SPONSOR: U.S. Army
NOTES: Newman won once, at Phoenix, and finished 15th in the standings in a letdown from 2009, when he made the Chase.
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No. 99 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
DRIVER: Carl Edwards
BORN: Aug. 15, 1979
HOMETOWN: Columbia, Mo.
CREW CHIEF: Bob Osborne
SPONSOR: Aflac
NOTES: Consecutive victories to end last season have Edwards being mentioned as one of the favorites to push Jimmie Johnson for the championship in 2011. Edwards enjoyed 19 top-10s in 2010, including 13 in the final 19 races, and finished fourth in points.
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No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports
DRIVER: Jimmie Johnson
BORN: Sept. 17, 1975
HOMETOWN: El Cajon, Calif.
CREW CHIEF: Chad Knaus
SPONSOR: Lowe's
NOTES: The five-time defending Cup champion returns - again - with everyone trying to knock him off. Fatherhood, car changes and a May slump had little effect on his series domination in 2010. Will changes to the points system alter anything? Will someone do more than merely challenge him in the Chase?
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No. 00 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing
DRIVER: David Reutimann
BORN: March 2, 1970
HOMETOWN: Zephyrhills, Fla.
CREW CHIEF: Rodney Childers
SPONSOR: Aaron's Dream Machine
NOTES: Finished 18th in the points last season with a win at Chicago. Although he was two spots lower in the final standings than he was in 2009, Reutimann remains a viable contender to creep into the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
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No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing
DRIVER: Tony Stewart
BORN: May 20, 1971
HOMETOWN: Columbus, Ind.
CREW CHIEF: Darian Grubb
SPONSOR: Office Depot/Burger King
NOTES: The two-time series champion won two races last season, but his first win wasn't until Labor Day. Finished seventh in the standings and never contended for the title. Although he's been mellow and improved his physical fitness, the temperamental Stewart started the year answering questions about an altercation with a track owner in Australia.
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No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
DRIVER: Greg Biffle
BORN: Dec. 23, 1969
HOMETOWN: Vancouver, Wash.
CREW CHIEF: Greg Erwin
SPONSOR: 3M
NOTES: Won at Pocono and Kansas to come on strong near the end of the season. Finished sixth in the Chase. Expecting his first child, a girl, this season.
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No. 83 Toyota, Red Bull Racing
DRIVER: Brian Vickers
BORN: Oct. 24, 1983
HOMETOWN: Thomasville, N.C.
CREW CHIEF: Ryan Pemberton
SPONSOR: Red Bull
NOTES: Vickers is back, healthy again and looking to return to his 2009 form. Vickers finished 12th that season. He stepped away from NASCAR last season after doctors found blood clots in his leg and lungs. Treatment included blood thinners, two procedures to close a hole in his heart and the insertion of a stent into his left leg.
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No. 37 Ford, Front Row Motorsports
DRIVER: Robert Richardson Jr.
BORN: April 4, 1982
HOMETOWN: McKinney, Texas
CREW CHIEF: Greg Conner
SPONSOR: North Texas Pipe
NOTES: Richardson will be making his second start at the Cup level and first at Daytona. In October 2009, he finished 18th in his Cup debut at Talladega. He has more than 45 Nationwide series starts and 20 truck series starts to his credit.
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No. 09 Chevrolet, Phoenix Racing
DRIVER: Bill Elliott
BORN: Oct. 8, 1955
HOMETOWN: Dawsonville, Ga.
CREW CHIEF: Nick Harrison
SPONSOR: Phoenix Construction
NOTES: Elliott is in the Daytona 500 for the 29th time in the last 33 years. He won the event in 1985 and '87. He drove the last two years for Wood Brothers Racing, but is planning to be behind the wheel for a minimum of 18 races in 2011 for car owner James Finch.
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No. 7 Toyota, Robby Gordon Motorsports
DRIVER: Robby Gordon
BORN: Jan. 2, 1969
HOMETOWN: Orange, Calif.
CREW CHIEF: Steven Lane
SPONSOR: Speed Energy Drink
NOTES: Gordon enters his seventh season as an owner/driver but has started picking and choosing where he races because of funding issues. Ran 27 races last season, with one top-10. Finished 34th in points. Created his own energy drink to help sponsor his endeavors.
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No. 47 Toyota, JTG-Daugherty Racing
DRIVER: Bobby Labonte
BORN: May 8, 1964
HOMETOWN: Corpus Christi, Texas
CREW CHIEF: Frank Kerr
SPONSOR: Little Debbie/Clorox/Kingsford
NOTES: Labonte, the 2000 Cup champion, hasn't won a race since 2003. But he expects to be more competitive with the team that finished 26th last season with Marcos Ambrose behind the wheel.
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No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing
DRIVER: Trevor Bayne
BORN: Feb. 19, 1991
HOMETOWN: Knoxville, Tenn.
CREW CHIEF: David Hyder
SPONSOR: Motorcraft/Quick Lane
NOTES: Bayne wrecked during a qualifying race Thursday but had one of the faster cars in the event. He will share the ride with 1988 Cup champion Bill Elliott this season while driving full time in the Nationwide series for Roush Fenway Racing.
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No. 46 Chevrolet, Whitney Motorsports
DRIVER: J.J. Yeley
BORN: Oct. 5, 1976
HOMETOWN: Phoenix, Ariz.
CREW CHIEF: Jeremy Lefaver
SPONSOR: Red Line Oil
NOTES: Yeley made 17 of 36 Cup events last season, many of them for car owner Dusty Whitney. Whitney let Yeley go late last season, but they have reunited in hopes of being more competitive.
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No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing
DRIVER: David Ragan
BORN: Dec. 24, 1985
HOMETOWN: Unadilla, Ga.
CREW CHIEF: Drew Blickensderfer
SPONSOR: UPS
NOTES: Scored only three top-10s and finished 24th in points last season, his third in the Cup Series. Has been underwhelming at this level but still has support from Roush Fenway Racing.
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No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports
DRIVER: Marcos Ambrose
BORN: Sept. 1, 1976
HOMETOWN: Launceston, Tasmania
CREW CHIEF: Todd Parrott
SPONSOR: Stanley Black & Decker
NOTES: Left JTG-Daugherty Racing at the end of the season to move to RPM, where he reunites with Ford Motor Co. Coughed away a win on the road course at Sonoma when he stalled his car trying to save fuel. Finished 26th in points.
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No. 77 Toyota, Rusty Wallace Racing
DRIVER: Steve Wallace
BORN: Aug. 18, 1987
HOMETOWN: Charlotte, N.C.
CREW CHIEF: Larry Carter
SPONSOR: 5-Hour Energy
NOTES: Based on owner points from 2010, Steve Wallace is guaranteed a starting spot in the first five races this season. That means he will make his Sprint Cup debut in the Daytona 500. He also will race for a championship in the Nationwide Series.
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No. 71 Chevrolet, TRG Motorsports
DRIVER: Andy Lally
BORN: Feb. 11, 1975
HOMETOWN: Northport, N.Y.
CREW CHIEF: Jay Guy
SPONSOR: Super Eco-Fuel Saver
NOTES: Lally is the only driving running for rookie of the year in the Sprint Cup Series. An accomplished road racer with three Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona wins, Lally has eight career starts in NASCAR's top series.
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No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing
DRIVER: Joey Logano
BORN: May 24, 1990
HOMETOWN: Middletown, Conn.
CREW CHIEF: Greg Zipadelli
SPONSOR: Home Depot
NOTES: A popular pick to make the Chase this season, his third in Cup. Has shown steady improvement over two years, moving from 20th to 16th in the standings.
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No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports
DRIVER: David Gilliland
BORN: April 1, 1976
HOMETOWN: Riverside, Calif.
CREW CHIEF: Peter Sospenzo
SPONSOR: Taco Bell
NOTES: Gilliland ran 32 races last season, and like teammate Travis Kvapil, had to fight to keep the car inside the top 35. He finished 32nd in the final standings.
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No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports
DRIVER: Travis Kvapil
BORN: March 1, 1976
HOMETOWN: Janesville, Wis.
CREW CHIEF: Bill Henderson
SPONSOR: Long John Silver
NOTES: Kvapil struggled last year to keep his team inside the top-35 in points. He made it, at 33rd, and it guarantees Kvapil a spot in the Daytona 500 through the first five races of the season.
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No. 87 Toyota, NEMCO Motorsports
DRIVER: Joe Nemechek
BORN: Sept. 26, 1963
HOMETOWN: Lakeland, Fla.
CREW CHIEF: Philippe Lopez
SPONSOR: TBA
NOTES: Nemechek started 31 races last season but finished just one. Predominantly a start-and-park entry because of financial concerns in 2010, Nemechek finished dead last seven times.
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No. 36 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing
DRIVER: Dave Blaney
BORN: Oct. 24, 1962
HOMETOWN: Hartford, Ohio
CREW CHIEF: Tommy Baldwin
SPONSOR: TBD
NOTES: Blaney drove his way into the field in one of two qualifying races. This will be his 10th career start in the Daytona 500. He has never finished higher than 14th.
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No. 32 Ford, FAS Lane Racing
DRIVER: Terry Labonte
BORN: Nov. 16, 1956
HOMETOWN: Corpus Christi, Texas
CREW CHIEF: Frank Stoddard
SPONSOR: U.S. Chrome
NOTES: A two-time Cup champion, Labonte is driving in his 29th Daytona 500. His best finish was second. He did that three times (1986, '90 and '97).
 

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