Last year's Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne said securing a spot in the 2012 field without having to rely on a Duel result was a huge relief - and now hopes he can find more sponsorship to prolong his 2012 season.
The Wood Brothers driver did not have a guaranteed Daytona start as his car was not within the top 35 in last year's Sprint Cup owners' points standings. But he secured one of the three spots available for the fastest non-guaranteed drivers in qualifying when he went ninth quickest yesterday.
"It's a lot of relief," said Bayne. "Now we're back to the same position we were in last year. We started the Duel knowing we were locked in and it was just wherever we finished, and now we're back right there, so I'm ready for it."
Bayne currently lacks the funding to contest either the NASCAR Sprint Cup or Nationwide Series full-time, and his Nationwide team boss Jack Roush hopes ensuring a Daytona appearance will entice sponsors.
"Certainly it helps. Trevor is the reigning Daytona 500 champion and we have not managed to put together full sponsorship for either the Cup programme or Nationwide programme, but we do have ongoing conversations," said Roush.
"I don't know that there will be any great improvement in our prospects based on this, but it would certainly have been a downer if we had failed to qualify or if we would have had a problem with our car on that lap."
Bayne admitted he was surprised how tough it had been to raise money for 2012.
"I thought we'd be full-time Nationwide and full-time Cup this year, to be honest, right after the 500," he said. "But as the season wore on and nothing was really happening, this [current uncertainty] is kind of what I figured [would happen].
"I'd hoped to run full-time Nationwide this year. We have the first three races right now and then we're going to go from there. I figure if we can maybe be leading the points by then, then it would be hard for them to stop racing, but you would hope you could accumulate some kind of funding or some kind of sponsorship after the year that we had last year."
Duel one line-up:
Pos Driver Team/Car
1. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet
3. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford
4. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford
5. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford
6. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet
7. Aric Almirola Petty Ford
8. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet
9. David Ragan Front Row Ford
10. AJ Allmendinger Penske Dodge
11. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge
12. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet
13. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet
14. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet
15. David Stremme Inception Toyota
16. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet
17. Danica Patrick Baldwin Chevrolet
18. Terry Labonte FAS Lane Ford
19. Michael Waltrip Waltrip Toyota
20. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota
21. Michael McDowell Parsons Ford
22. Landon Cassill BK Toyota
23. David Gilliland Front Row Ford
24. Mike Wallace Max Q Ford
25. Robby Gordon Gordon Dodge
Pos Driver Team/Car
1. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford
2. Casey Mears Germain Ford
3. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet
4. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota
5. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota
6. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet
7. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford
8. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet
9. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota
10. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet
11. Tony Raines Front Row Ford
12. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota
13. Kenny Wallace RAB Toyota
14. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet
15. Kurt Busch Phoenix Chevrolet
16. Elliott Sadler Childress Chevrolet
17. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota
18. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet
19. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota
20. Bill Elliott NEMCO Toyota
21. David Reutimann BK Toyota
22. Robert Richardson Jr R3 Toyota
23. JJ Yeley Robinson-Blakeney Toyota
24. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota