Harvick, Kyle Busch win Budweiser Duels

Photo Credit: Noel Lanier

For as much anticipation went into Thursday Budweiser Duels at Daytona, certainly there was disappointment when the second race came to a conclusion.

Well over 75-percent of the 120 laps ran between the two races were predominantly run in a single-file line up against the outside wall around the Daytona International Speedway.

In the first Duel, 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne paced the line of cars nearly up until the one-and-only round of pit stops. A few laps before they were scheduled to come in, Kevin Harvick, who won Saturday night’s Sprint Unlimited, bypassed the No.21 of Bayne.

Harvick continued in the lead following pit stops, but his challenge was far from over when Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin made contact further back in the pack, causing a four-car crash with eight laps to go which also collected the cars of Bayne and Regan Smith.

“I don’t know exactly what happened,” said Edwards. “It looked like Denny (Hamlin) got sideways and wrecked us.

“That is the fourth time we have wrecked since we have been down here. I told Jimmy (Fenning, crew chief) we wrecked four times, so we have the black flag already and the race hasn’t even started. We are getting it out of our systems.”

The race restarted with four laps to go, and the intensity began to pick up considerably with three-wide racing extending five-rows-deep as the laps wound down.

When the checkered flag came out, it was draped over the hood of the No.29 Chevrolet of Harvick as he won the first 150-mile qualifying race; his second win in Speedweeks 2013.

“You’ve just got to be precise in your moves if you get yourself in the wrong spot like we did at the beginning of the race in the middle you just can’t go anywhere,” said Harvick regarding the racing in the first Duel.

“The only place you are going in backwards.  It’s hard to get yourself into the hole that you need when you make a mistake.  Usually you go back several car lengths you’ve just got to be precise about making the right moves.”

Over the years, it’s been protocol that the second qualifying race is much more tame than the first. Point in case, the 2012 edition of the second Duel ran caution-free for the entire 60 lap event.

That was exactly the case on Thursday as the second Duel recorded in as the second-fastest Duel in the 55-year history of the races, averaging a speed of 193.966 mph.

Starting from the pole position, it looked as though it was Jeff Gordon’s race to lose as the cars continued to parade around the top of the track.

And lose it he did.

A speeding penalty entering pit road relegated Gordon to not having a chance to contend for the win as the race quickly approached the closing laps with the Toyota’s of Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth showing the car.

Still leading on the final lap, Busch saw his biggest challenge for the top spot when the No.5 of Kasey Kahne got assistance from the No.33  of Austin Dillon, but it wasn’t enough as Busch cruised to victory in the second Duel.

“It’s hard to pass the leader,” said Busch. “Stay out front when you can get out front. You can run pretty good, and just try to hold everyone off behind you.

“There wasn’t enough lane-by-lane racing I’d call it here. But, it’s awesome to be in victory lane and use those tools to your advantage.”

When all was said and done, the starting lineup was set for the 55th running of the Daytona 500.

With 45 cars attempting to make the field, the two cars of Brian Keselowski and Mike Bliss were the ones on the outside looking in as they will not race on Sunday.

Dayton 500 Unofficial Starting Lineup: 

  1. Danica Patrick 
  2. Jeff Gordon
  3. Kevin Harvick
  4. Kyle Busch
  5. Greg Biffle
  6. Kasey Kahne
  7. Juan Pablo Montoya
  8. Austin Dillon
  9. Jimmie Johnson
  10. Clint Bowyer
  11. Kurt Busch
  12. Matt Kenseth
  13. Tony Stewart
  14. Mark Martin
  15. Brad Keselowski
  16. Paul Menard
  17. Casey Mears
  18. Jeff Burton
  19. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  20. Jamie McMurray
  21. Joey Logano
  22. David Ragan
  23. Bobby Labonte
  24. Marcos Ambrose
  25. David Gilliland
  26. Aric Almirola
  27. Joe Nemechek
  28. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  29. Michael Waltrip
  30. Dave Blaney
  31. Scott Speed
  32. Josh Wise
  33. Trevor Bayne
  34. Ryan Newman
  35. Denny Hamlin
  36. Carl Edwards
  37. Martin Truex Jr.
  38. Regan Smith
  39. Travis Kvapil
  40. David Reutimann
  41. Terry Labonte
  42. JJ Yeley
  43. Michael McDowell

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