As the laps winded down in the first Budweiser Duel, it looked like Matt Kenseth had total control of the front pack. However, things got hairy off of turn four when Kevin Harvick ducked out of line, making the move to pass Kenseth. As the pair side drafted of off each other, Kasey Kahne ducked underneath as he looked to pass them both.
Though in the end, it was Matt Kenseth holding them off to take the win in the first Budweiser Duel.
“I had a really strong car and Kevin is one of the best,” Kenseth said in victory lane. “Kevin, Tony and Dale – you want to see those guys behind you because you trust them, but they know how to make those moves. He made the move – but we were able to get down on him and get back by him. 2013 was awesome, but this is a good way to start off 2014.”
Kenseth finished second in points last year to Jimmie Johnson in his first season with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Kevin Harvick would cross the line in second place in his new Stewart-Haas Racing ride.
“I can’t tell you how bad I want to win a race for these guys to repay them for the hard work,” Harvick commented. “I knew I had to go when I had the run and when they pulled out to me, I had to go. I timed it at the right time – just didn’t work the side draft totally out enough and we both almost both lose it due to the 5 getting down there.”
In post-race technical inspection, Harvick’s No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet would fail inspection due to his team exceeding the maximum split on the track bar. As a result, his second place finish was disallowed. Harvick will still make the 2014 Daytona 500 based on his speed.
“Well that’s not good. It is what it is. we’ll come from the back and win the 500 from there,” Kevin Harvick said on Fox Sports 1’s broadcast after being told his car failed inspection.
With Harvick disqualified, Kasey Kahne will officially finish second in his No. 5 Farmer’s Insurance Chevrolet.
“We had a strong car and it’s all about when you go and when you get to the front,” Kahne said. “Matt had a good car and was able to hold us off – Kevin was also there, too. It was fun tonight.”
While they wrecked together in the Sprint Unlimited last Saturday, Marcos Ambrose and Dale Earnhardt Jr. would third and fourth together.
“Running the top line and then knowing when the line is coming, but we made some good moves,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “We slid the tire coming on pit road but it held up. We found out that the National Guard Chevy is fast and hope we can carry it forward in the 500.”
Josh Wise rounded out the top five as he put Phil Parson’s single-car team into the Daytona 500.
“We were just able to execute well and make good pit stops there,” Wise commented afterwards. “I was wearing my guys out with where I was running and where I needed to be. I saw that bottom line coming and I jumped in behind the 88 car and moved all the way up to sixth. It was great.”
Aric Almirola finished sixth, followed by A.J. Allmendinger, David Gilliland, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and Cole Whitt. Whitt will put his No. 26 Swan Racing car into the show after damaging it in yesterday’s practice. His crew repaired the car due to not having a back-up as teammate Parker Kligerman needed it after flipping upside down.
“This team – to overcome what we did to get down here and to get into the Daytona 500 – fixing the car and cutting the whole side off of it, my hats are off to my guys and it wouldn’t be possible without them,” Whitt said.
Greg Biffle finished 12th, followed by Danica Patrick, Alex Bowman and Brian Vickers. For BK Racing’s Alex Bowman, it marks his first Daytona 500 as he comes into this season as a rookie. For Vickers, it marks an accomplishment for that Michael Waltrip Racing team after having to go to a back-up following a wreck during yesterday’s practice.
“I was hassling my crew for information and was relieved when my crew chief Dave Winston said we finished 15th and we made it,” Bowman commented. “It means a lot to me and thankful for everyone at BK Racing for giving me the opportunity to drive a cup car. It means a lot to me and my family. Man, it’s awesome that I get to run the Daytona 500.”
The rest of the drivers will have to either depend on their time trial speed from Sunday or their owner’s points from last season, except for Austin Dillon who locked himself on to the front row with the pole last Sunday.
The rest of the finishing order went as follows: Joey Logano, Parker Kligerman, Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek and Reed Sorenson. Sorenson had to take his car to the garage mid-race due to a wheel bearing burning up.