DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Danica Patrick cleared a path for her teammates in NASCAR's new knockout qualifying that led to a Turner Scott Motorsports rout at Daytona International Speedway.
Dylan Kwasniewski won the pole for his Nationwide Series debut — the first rookie since Rusty Wallace in 1985 to win the pole at Daytona — by following Patrick and Kyle Larson through traffic in Friday's qualifying session.
The 18-year-old topped the speed chart with a lap at 192.078 mph in the rain-shortened qualifying session. Larson qualified second with a lap at 192.074 and Patrick was third as Turner Scott's cars went 1-2-3 for Saturday's race.
"Danica did a fantastic job of leading us through the pack and getting us clean through there," said Kwasniewski, winner of the K&N East title last year and the K&N West title in 2012.
"Being a rookie, it was hard for me to make the decisions on where to go," he said. "Danica did a fantastic job, she got us through clean and I was coming up to a sea of cars on the back straight and I was like, 'I have no idea how we are going to be able to get us through this.' But she picked her way through perfectly, got us in the right position and got us all three a great lap. We stuck together and made sure we could be a team out there."
The qualifying session was the first for NASCAR's new multicar, knockout-style format. All cars were on track for the opening 25-minute segment that was interrupted twice by rain. The fastest 24 cars were scheduled to advance to a second, 10-minute round, but it was rained out.
There were as many as 30 cars on the track at one point, which made the one segment that was run far more entertaining than the traditional single-car runs NASCAR had used.
Patrick acknowledged the session was worth watching, but could be interesting as the season progresses.
"I think there are some times when it's going to be a total disaster," Patrick said. "Like when we go to short tracks. I just can't imagine where it's going to be like. (At Daytona), there's plenty of room, people can go wherever, there's many lanes, it's all about momentum. But when you go to places like Bristol, Martinsville and even Phoenix. Short tracks in general are just going to be a really big challenge. And then you've got the mile-and-a-halves where you're just going a lot faster."