DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Michael Waltrip had a lot riding on his shoulders when he made a dramatic entrance into the Daytona 500 on Thursday.
At the top of his list and first on his mind were the people in Sandy Hook in Newtown, Conn., scene of the mass elementary school shooting massacre in December.
Waltrip carried the Sandy Hook School Support Fund colors on his No. 26 Toyota Camry in the first of two Budweiser Duel races, which set positions for Sunday's 500.
He finished 14th to Kevin Harvick, just good enough to transfer to Sunday's race, where he'll start 29th .
Waltrip was elated he and his Swan Racing team will run this weekend for Sandy Hook Elementary, the town's residents and those children and teachers who died so tragically there.
"We needed to make it for the folks in Newtown," said Waltrip, who visited the community recently. "We wanted to have something for them to smile about and now they do."
NIGHT MOVES: The Duels, 150-mile qualifying races that set the field for the 500, will move under the lights at Daytona International Speedway in 2014.
The Duels will be run on Thursday, Feb. 20, next year and be televised by Fox (Channel 2 in Detroit).
"Moving the Budweiser Duel under the lights will add another dimension to Budweiser Speed Weeks," said Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III said Thursday .
TOUGH BREAKS: Roush Fenway Racing's Carl Edwards has hit just about everything in practice and racing at Daytona this month. His hard luck continued in Duel 1 as the No. 99 Fastenal Ford Fusion driver was involved in a wreck with Denny Hamlin, Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith .
Edwards got turned and hit the outside wall hard, his day and car done. He will start 36th in Sunday's field.
"It looked like Denny (Hamlin) got sideways and wrecked us," Edwards said. "That is the fourth time we have wrecked since we have been down here. We are getting it out of our systems. Fortunately, we have a really good group of guys and have a good backup car. We'll just go get 'em in the 500."
Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing), who many thought might win the Bud Duel race and maybe Sunday's 500, will start 35th; Bayne 33rd and Smith 40th .
"It's a tough deal. I had, what I think, was one of the tightest cars out there -- it was really handling well," Hamlin said.
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