Piquet and Patrick qualify in top 12

High profile newcomers Nelson Piquet and Danica Patrick qualified seventh and 12th respectively for thier stock car debuts in today's ARCA race at Daytona

Piquet is making first racing appearance since his dramatic split with the Renault Formula 1 team last summer, and has secured a drive with Eddie Sharp Racing, which won last year's ARCA title with Justin Lofton. The Brazilian said he had not expected to start so high up the grid.

"I am really happy with the result today and a little surprised because the first time I drove was in Thursday practice," said Piquet.

"It was my first time in the ARCA car and my first time at Daytona. So I am really pleased with the result, especially in such a competitive session, there was just 0.5s between first and 15th. I can't wait for the race."

While the F1 fraternity will be watching Piquet's performance, Patrick's arrival in stock cars is a substantially bigger story in the American media. The IndyCar race winner will start 12th in her JR Motorsports crew and was satisfied with her position.

"We weren't really picking up as much speed as we wanted when we were taping it up and trying to go as fast as possible but what we were really happy about was when we went out to qualify we went about the same speed that we did in practice and we didn't drop off at all, which can happen sometimes when you're the only one out there," she said.

"We were ahead of a few people that were ahead of us in practice. As [crew chief] Tony Eury Jr pointed out to me, 'you're going to be able to see the pace car from there!' so apparently that's okay."

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