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Daytona 500 2014: Official Starting Lineup Announced for Classic Race

Matt Kenseth celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the first of two NASCAR Sprint Cup series qualifying auto races at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press
Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2014

The running order for the 2014 Daytona 500 was unveiled late Thursday night.

The top of the lineup had already been decided before the final announcement. Austin Dillon won the pole, while Martin Truex earned the right to start in the front row, per Daytona International Speedway:

Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin won the Budweiser Duels on Thursday to get third and fourth, respectively, in the starting grid, per NASCAR:

Here's the full lineup, courtesy of NASCAR.com.

Daytona 500 Lineup
Pos.Car No.Driver
13Austin Dillon
278Martin Truex Jr.
320Matt Kenseth
411Denny Hamlin
55Kasey Kahne
624Jeff Gordon
79Marcos Ambrose
841Kurt Busch
988Dale Earnhardt Jr.
1027Paul Menard
1198Josh Wise
1233Brian Scott
1343Alec Almirola
1421Trevor Bayne
1547AJ Allmendinger
1642Kyle Larson
1738David Gilliland
1840Landon Cassill
1931Ryan Newman
2015Clint Bowyer
2114Tony Stewart
221Jamie McMurray
2326Cole Whitt
2432Terry Labonte
2516Greg Biffle
2652Bobby Labonte
2710Danica Patrick
2813Casey Mears
2923Alex Bowman
3099Carl Edwards
3155Brian Vickers
3248Jimmie Johnson
332Brad Keselowski
3417Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
3522Joey Logano
367Michael Annett
3718Kyle Busch
384Kevin Harvick
3936Reed Sorensen
4051Justin Allgaier
4130Parker Kligerman
4266Michael Waltrip
4334David Ragan
NASCAR.com

The notable aspect of Dillon starting out on the pole is that he's doing so with the No. 3 car, made famous by the late Dale Earnhardt. It's the first time it will be on a NASCAR track since Earnhardt's crash here at Daytona in 2001, per USA Today's Jeff Gluck:

The 23-year-old said that the fan reaction has mostly been positive to the switch, per FoxSports.com's Tom Jensen:

To see the fans light up at every autograph session excited, (asking) if we're going to bring it back, asking those questions ... I might hear a jeer as I'm walking away or driving away, but at autograph sessions, I've never had anybody not positive about it. If I was getting beat up every time I went to an autograph session because we were thinking about it, then it would change my mindset.

But they were so excited about, 'Man, we want to see it back, we're in support of it.' And they'd tap your (autograph) card while you're signing it and that's what you remember at autograph sessions.

Seeing the No. 3 car on a NASCAR track again is long overdue.

That's where the positivity ends, though, for Dillon, because starting on the pole is often more of a hindrance than it is a help. Dale Jarrett was the last driver to win the Daytona 500 from the pole position, and that was all the way back in 2000.

The size of the track and length of the race means that you can easily go from the back to the front in the space of a few laps. If anything, it's much better to start a little further back, so you can draft and plot your race strategy without worrying about holding the lead.

Somebody like Jimmie Johnson, starting in 32nd, is in a great spot. It will be interesting to see how quickly he rises up the race leaderboard and when he chooses to make his big move.

The Daytona 500 is the biggest race of the year, so while it doesn't impact the standings more than any other race, a win can make a driver's season. When debating the best drivers of all time, the number of Daytona 500 wins is often a talking point.

Only time will tell if Dillon can make it a storybook ending and take home the win in the No. 3, or if Johnson or someone else back in the pack will come on strong and make the trip to victory lane.

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