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Kenseth Wins First Duel At Daytona; Hamlin Wins Second

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, February 20 2014

Clint Bowyer grabbed some air at Daytona on Friday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Tom Copeland)

Denny Hamlin followed up his victory in last weekend’s Sprint Unlimited with a victory in the second of Thursday night’s Budweiser Duels 150-mile qualifying races for Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

“Once that snowball starts to roll it’s hard to stop it and right now we’re just on a heck of a run,” Hamlin said.

“We won the NASCAR golf tournament this morning too so we’re really undefeated, so everything has been going great.”

Hamlin, who drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, was just ahead of Kurt Busch coming out of the final lap. But a big wreck back in the field brought out the caution and mixed up the finishing order.

Second place when to Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports while Busch was third.

“We were up in the top three most of the time,” Gordon said. “It got pretty wild after the pit stop. Me and Carl (Edwards) were having a heck of a drag race leaving pit road. We got into a good position there and I just kept seeing everybody back up behind me trying to get that big run when the white flag came out. I felt like we had a good shot at getting a good run as well. They split up behind us and then it was just chaos to the end. I made one run on the No. 41 and couldn’t quite clear him and then when we got off of (turn) four I got one more push and was able to get inside of him for a great second place finish.”

The big wreck began when Jimmie Johnson suddenly slowed as he ran out of fuel and was hit from behind by Jamie McMurray.

Heavy damaged was sustained on several cars, including that of Clint Bowyer, which flipped, rolled in the air and landed wheels-down.

Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports finished second and Busch, of Stewart Haas Racing, was third.

Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs Racing won the first of Thursday night’s qualifying races.

Finishing second was Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing. However, Harvick’s car failed post-race inspection. As a result, his finish was disallowed. He will, however, be in the field for Sunday’s 500.

Third across the finish line was Kasey Kahne of Hendrick Motorsports. With Harvick’s penalty, he is credited with a second-place finish.

The first three drivers crossed the finish line side by side with Kenseth high, Harvick in the middle and Kahne down low.

“Kevin is one of the best,” Kenseth said,  “Kevin, Tony (Stewart), there’s a few of those guys that you want to see behind you because you trust them to do the right things, but you also don’t because they’re so smart and I saw him laying back getting a run and he made the perfect move. I was just fortunate to get to his right rear early enough to get a big enough run to get me back to the finish line.”

Finishing third was Marcos Ambrose of Richard Petty Racing while Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Hendrick Motorsports was fourth.

Racing their way into the 500 were Cole Whitt and Alex Bowman.

“For me,” Wise, who finished sixth, said, “I went into this trying not to make mistakes and just execute, and getting on pit road clean and not speed, and do everything right. We were just fortunate to have all of those things happen. I was able to make up some spots getting on pit road, which helped a little bit, and the guys got it full of fuel real quick. Being up there around 10th it took a little bit of the pressure off to where we weren’t having to be quite so aggressive to make sure we were in a transfer spot. Then on the last lap I saw the 88 drop to the bottom and I figured we’d maybe close the gap to him and dropped down and was able to close in there up to him and finished sixth, so that was great.”

Tony Stewart finished 14th, which put Kurt Busch into the 500 with a provisional for being most recent past champion.

Kenseth, a two-time Daytona 500 winner and the runner-up in Cup in 2013, led the most laps (31) in the opening 60-lap, 150-mile qualifier. The margin of victory was .022 seconds.

After crashes have marred much of Speedweeks, the first Duel went flag to flag without a caution.

“Yeah, it was very calm,” Almirola said. “You saw everybody wreck in practice and all the wrecks in the Unlimited, so it seemed like everybody was a lot more calm.”

The unofficial starting lineup for the 2014 Daytona 500:

Pos/Car No./ Driver/ Team

1 / 3  / Austin Dillon #/ DOW Chevrolet

2 / 78 / Martin Truex. Jr./Furniture Row Chevrolet

3 / 20 / Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota

4 / 11 / Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota

5 / 5 /  Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet

6 / 24 / Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet

7 / 9 / Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford

8 / 41 / Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet

9/ 88 / Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard Chevrolet

10 / 27 / Paul Menard Peak/Menards Chevrolet

11 / 98 / Josh Wise Curb Records Ford

12/  33 / Brian Scott Whitetail Chevrolet

13 / 43 / Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford

14 / 21 / Trevor Bayne (i) Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford

15 / 47 / AJ Allmendinger Kroger/USO Chevrolet

16 / 42 / Kyle Larson # Target Chevrolet

17 / 38 / David Gilliland Love’s Travel Stops Ford

18 / 40 / Landon Cassill (i) Hillman Racing Chevrolet

19 / 31 / Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet

20 / 15 / Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota

21 / 14 / Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet

22 / 1 / Jamie McMurray McDonald’s Chevrolet

23 / 26 / Cole Whitt # Speed Stick Gear Toyota

24 / 32 / Terry Labonte C&J Energy Services Ford

25 / 16 / Greg Biffle 3M Ford

26  /52 / Bobby Labonte Phoenix Construction Chevrolet

27 / 10 / Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet

28 / 13 / Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet

29 / 23 /  Alex Bowman # Dr. Pepper Toyota

30 / 99 / Carl Edwards Fastenal Ford

31 / 55 / Brian Vickers Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota

32  /48 / Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s Chevrolet

33 / 2 / Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford

34 / 17 /  Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Nationwide Insurance Ford

35 / 22 / Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford

36 / 7 / Michael Annett # Pilot/Flying J Travel Centers Chevrolet

37 /18 / Kyle Busch M&M’s Toyota

38 / 4 / Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet

39 / 36 / Reed Sorenson Golden Corral Chevrolet

40 /  51 / Justin Allgaier # Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet

41 / 30 / Parker Kligerman # Swan Energy Toyota

42 / 66 / Michael Waltrip BlueDEF/AAA Toyota

43 / 34 / David Ragan CSX – Play It Safe Ford

# indicates rookie

Failed to qualify: No. 35 Eric McClure, No. 83 Ryan Truex, No. 87 Joe Nemechek, No. 93 Morgan Shepherd, No. 95 Michael McDowell

(This story will be updated shortly)

| , RacinToday.com Thursday, February 20 2014
One Comment

One Comment »

  • NASCAR Nutered Fords says:

    Wait a minute if you are found illegal and win you get to keep the win and the everything but if you finish second on back you lose your position?

    Boy NASCAR has really become very confused. Cheaters win as long as they win the race.

    I looked the definition of the JOKE in Webster’s and it simply said NASCAR.