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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, February 21, 2013 9:01 pm

A look at drivers competing in 2013 Daytona 500

By The Associated Press

No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing

DRIVER: Danica Patrick

BORN: March 25, 1982

HOMETOWN: Roscoe, Ill.

CREW CHIEF: Tony Gibson


TWITTER: (at)DanicaPatrick

NOTES: Became first woman to win the pole for any race in NASCAR's top series when she turned the fastest lap during qualifying for the Daytona 500. ... Even before her achievement, Patrick was the talk of Speedweeks. The former IndyCar star known more for sexy photos and Super Bowl commercials than on-track success is racing a full season in the Sprint Cup Series and is dating fellow driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports

DRIVER: Jeff Gordon

BORN: Aug. 4, 1971

HOMETOWN: Pittsboro, Ind.

CREW CHIEF: Alan Gustafson

SPONSOR: Drive To End Hunger

TWITTER: (at)JeffGordonWeb

NOTES: Finished 10th in points last season, his worst since 2005 and second worst since his rookie year in 1993. ... Has been fast during Speedweeks and will start on the outside of the front row, next to Patrick. Or as Gordon said of qualifying, "At least I was the fastest guy."

No. 29 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing

DRIVER: Kevin Harvick

BORN: Dec. 8, 1975

HOMETOWN: Bakersfield, Calif.

CREW CHIEF: Gil Martin

SPONSOR: Budweiser

TWITTER: (at)KevinHarvick

NOTES: The 2007 Daytona 500 winner has two victories in Speedweeks, positioning himself as the favorite for the season opener. He claimed his third Sprint Unlimited (formerly the Budweiser Shootout) exhibition race last week and won one of the twin qualifiers Thursday. ... Finished eighth in points last season. ... In his final season with RCR and has been rumored to be headed to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.

No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing

DRIVER: Kyle Busch

BORN: May 2, 1985


CREW CHIEF: Dave Rogers


TWITTER: (at)KyleBusch

NOTES: Coming off a disappointing 2012 season. Finished 13th in points and won just one race. That's a huge drop-off for a driver who won 19 times in the Sprint Cup series the previous four years. ... Has a new teammate in 2003 series champion Matt Kenseth. ... Finished 16th in the exhibition Sprint Unlimited after being involved in an early crash, but rebounded to win a Daytona 500 qualifying race Thursday.

No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing

DRIVER: Greg Biffle

BORN: Dec. 23, 1969

HOMETOWN: Vancouver, Wash.

CREW CHIEF: Matt Puccia


TWITTER: (at)gbiffle

NOTES: Finished fifth in points last season, with two wins and 12 top-five showings. Was atop the standings for nearly four months of the season. Had some of his best runs at superspeedways, finishing third in the 2012 Daytona 500 and fifth and sixth in races at Talladega. ... Has two second-place finishes in Speedweeks: one in the exhibition Sprint Unlimited and another in a Daytona 500 qualifying race.

No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports

DRIVER: Kasey Kahne

BORN: April 10, 1980

HOMETOWN: Enumclaw, Wash.

CREW CHIEF: Kenny Francis

SPONSOR: Farmers Insurance

TWITTER: (at)kaseykahne

NOTES: Beginning second season at Hendrick Motorsports. ... Finished fourth in points in 2012, highlighted by two wins and 12 top-fives. ... One of four drivers who ran half marathon before qualifying. Was the highest finisher of the bunch, edging Johnson by about a minute.

No. 42 Chevrolet, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing

DRIVER: Juan Pablo Montoya

BORN: Sept. 20, 1975

HOMETOWN: Bogota, Colombia

CREW CHIEF: Chris Heroy


TWITTER: (at)jpmontoya

NOTES: Following a breakthrough season in 2009, missed the Chase the last three years. Finished 22nd in points last season. ... If he doesn't show improvement, his future at Earnhardt Ganassi Racing could be in jeopardy. ... Won the Rolex 24 at Daytona last month and finished 10th in the exhibition Sprint Unlimited last week. ... Infamously slammed into a jet dryer during last year's Daytona 500.

No. 33 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing

DRIVER: Austin Dillon

BORN: April 27, 1990

HOMETOWN: Lewisville, N.C.

CREW CHIEF: Scott Naset

SPONSOR: Honey Nut Cheerios

TWITTER: (at)austindillon3

NOTES: Making his third Cup start, first at Daytona. ... After winning the NASCAR Truck Series championship in 2011, the grandson of longtime team owner Richard Childress jumped to the Nationwide Series last season and finished third in his first full season. He's still racing for a championship in Nationwide in 2013, but it won't be long before he's driving full time in Cup.

No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports

DRIVER: Jimmie Johnson

BORN: Sept. 17, 1975

HOMETOWN: El Cajon, Calif.

CREW CHIEF: Chad Knaus


TWITTER: (at)JimmieJohnson

NOTES: After five consecutive Sprint Cup championships, Johnson "slipped" to sixth and third, respectively, the last two seasons. ... Was the only driver with a chance to beat Brad Keselowski for the title at the season finale in Homestead. Instead, Johnson's car had a gear issue and he ended up behind Keselowski and Clint Bowyer in the final standings. ... One of four drivers who ran half marathon before pole qualifying.

No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing

DRIVER: Clint Bowyer

BORN: May 30, 1979

HOMETOWN: Emporia, Kan.

CREW CHIEF: Brian Pattie

SPONSOR: 5-hour Energy

TWITTER: (at)ClintBowyer

NOTES: Sprint Cup runner-up in 2012, finishing just 39 points behind Brad Keselowski. ... Had three victories and 23 top-10 finishes. ... May have been best known for tangling with Jeff Gordon on the track at Phoenix and then chasing after him in the garage. The melee triggered a fight between the drivers' crews.

No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Motorsports

DRIVER: Kurt Busch

BORN: Aug. 4, 1978


CREW CHIEF: Todd Berrier

SPONSOR: Furniture Row

TWITTER: (at)KurtBusch

NOTES: Speedweeks got off to a rough start for Busch, who was involved in two wrecks in as many days last week. He crashed during practice for the Sprint Unlimited and totaled another car in the exhibition race. It was a bad start for a guy criticized last year for tearing up equipment while driving for second-tier Phoenix Racing.

No. 20 Chevrolet, Joe Gibbs Racing

DRIVER: Matt Kenseth

BORN: March 10, 1972

HOMETOWN: Cambridge, Wis.

CREW CHIEF: Jason Ratcliff

SPONSOR: Dollar General

TWITTER: (at)mattkenseth

NOTES: Defending Daytona 500 champion. Also won "The Great American Race" in 2009. ... First season at Joe Gibbs Racing after 13 years with Jack Roush. ... Finished seventh in points in 2012. ... Had the dominant car in the Sprint Unlimited exhibition race last week, but finished fifth after getting shuffled back late in the 75-lap event.