PHOENIX - APRIL 10: Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, drives alongside Terry Cook, driver of the #46 Whitney Motorsports Dodge, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series SUBWAY Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway on April 10, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

2011 Daytona 500: NASCAR Season Kicks Off Today

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2011 Daytona 500: Tribute To Dale Earnhardt On Lap Three

This Daytona 500 marks the ten-year anniversary of the death of legendary NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt. The Intimidator died in a crash during the 2001 Daytona 500, and it was truly the end of an era in stock car racing.

During today's race, on lap number three, the thousands of people in attendance at Daytona International Raceway will all stand up, remaining silent for the entire third lap, and raise three fingers towards the sky in honor of Earnhardt's number 3.

Dale Earnhardt's son, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., was on the pole for today's race, but will have to drop to the back of the pack because he wrecked the car he qualified in during the other events at Daytona this week.

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2011 Daytona 500: Need Someone To Cheer For? Cheer For Minnesota!

Many NASCAR fans have someone that they have deemed to be "their driver." The guy they'll cheer for to win every week. Many more NASCAR fans have someone that they will cheer against every week, regardless of the circumstances (see also: Gordon, Jeff or Busch, Kurt). Still others cheer for different manufacturers, whether it's Ford, Chevy, or Dodge.

But what if you're a more casual NASCAR fan that doesn't have one particular guy that you want to see win and are just watching for the racing action.

Well, as is the case in most things, you could go with a tried-and-true philosophy. . .when in doubt, cheer for Minnesota.

Three prominent NASCAR drivers are sponsored by major companies that are based in Minnesota. We'll highlight them here in the order that they appear on this year's starting grid.

Sitting on the inside of Row 7 on this year's starting grid is the number 42 car of Juan Pablo Montoya, whose Chevy ride is sponsored by Target (and is the car featured in the picture attached to this string of posts). Montoya has gotten better every year since coming over to NASCAR from open-wheel racing a few years back. This will be his fifth Daytona 500. . .he finished 19th in 2007, 32nd in 2009, 14th in 2009, and climbed to 10th last year.

Just behind him on the inside of Row 8 will be A.J. Allmendinger, who will be in a Ford sponsored by Best Buy with #43 on the side. This will be Allmendinger's third Daytona 500, and he's had a bit of success. He came out of nowhere to finish third in the 2009 edition of the race, but had a disappointing showing last year in finishing in 32nd place.

Lastly, you'll see Greg Biffle on the outside of Row 13 in the number 16 car. Like Allmendiger, he will be driving a Ford, but his car is sponsored by the folks at 3M. This is Biffle's ninth appearance in the Super Bowl of racing, and he's experienced some success as well, including finishing third in last year's race behind Jamie McMurray and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Will a Minnesota-sponsored car find itself in victory lane tomorrow afternoon? There's only one way to find out, and that's by watching the 2011 Daytona 500, which gets underway at noon Central time tomorrow on Fox.

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2011 Daytona 500: Your Complete Starting Grid For Tomorrow's Race

All of the qualifying is done, and the field is officially set for tomorrow's Daytona 500. Here is the complete list of drivers and where they'll be starting.

  1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  2. Jeff Gordon
  3. Kurt Busch
  4. Jeff Burton
  5. Regan Smith
  6. Clint Bowyer
  7. Kevin Harvick
  8. Michael Waltrip
  9. Matt Kenseth
  10. Kyle Busch
  11. Kasey Kahne
  12. Brian Keselowski
  13. Juan Pablo Montoya
  14. Jamie McMurray
  15. AJ Allmendinger
  16. Brad Keselowski
  17. Mark Martin
  18. Denny Hamlin
  19. Paul Menard
  20. Martin Truex Jr.
  21. Ryan Newman
  22. Carl Edwards
  23. Jimmie Johnson
  24. David Reutimann
  25. Tony Stewart
  26. Greg Biffle
  27. Brian Vickers
  28. Robert Richardson Jr.
  29. Bill Elliott
  30. Robby Gordon
  31. Bobby Labonte
  32. Trevor Bayne
  33. JJ Yeley
  34. David Ragan
  35. Marcos Ambrose
  36. Steve Wallace
  37. Andy Lally
  38. Joey Logano
  39. David Gilliland
  40. Travis Kvapil
  41. Joe Nemechek
  42. Dave Blaney
  43. Terry Labonte
While Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is still technically the pole-sitter, he will be forced to drop to the back of the pack during the pace laps because he wrecked his car. . .and his back-up car. . .during the various qualifying events during the week. As he will be driving a different car than the one he qualified in, he has to move to the back of the pack.
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