Drivers remain optimistic despite going to back-up cars for Daytona 500

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The starting lineup for Sunday’s 58th Daytona 500 has become an issue of one step forward turning into lots of steps backward for several drivers.

Five drivers will start from the back of the pack because they’re using back-up cars because of wrecks that occurred in Thursday’s qualifying races.

Matt Kenseth lost his front row spot alongside pole sitter Chase Elliott after he was collected in a last-lap crash in Thursday’s second qualifying race.

Others who will go to the back of the 40-car field are Jimmie Johnson (was to have started 26th), Martin Truex Jr. (28th) and A.J. Allmendinger (30th).

Also, Brian Scott, who wrecked at the end of the first qualifying race, will start from the back of the pack after having to go to a backup car.

Truex was pleased with how his backup car performed in Friday’s practice.

“We drafted again with the Gibbs cars in practice and felt our backup was real similar to the primary,” Truex said in a media release Friday. “It’s really hard to tell until you get into racing conditions.

“Hopefully the backup will act similar in the big pack as our primary did in the duel race. I was real happy with the primary and felt we had a competitive car.”

Johnson feels similar to Truex.

“Yeah, I’m sad to lose that car,” Johnson said. “It was really, really good. The guys were real confident about our back-up selection, so I feel good about it.”

Added Allmendinger: “Starting position here doesn’t mean anything, (we’re) just going to a back-up car. We haven’t had the speed in both our cars yet – the Unlimited car and this car. I feel like we are going to have to go to work on our back-up car. I think it’s fairly close to (the primary car), just some work for my guys.”

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