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Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch Win Duels

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, February 19 2016
Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered flag in the first of Friday night's Duel Qualifying Races at Daytona International Speedway. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered flag in the first of Friday night’s Duel Qualifying Races at Daytona International Speedway. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

People’s choice Dale Earnhardt Jr. and defending Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch collected victories in Thursday night’s Can-Am Duel Qualifying Races at Daytona International Speedway.

The results of the two races sets starting grid for Sunday’s Daytona 500 at DIS.

In Duel No. 1, rookie Chase Elliott led the field to green and led the first two laps before being passed by Earnhardt Jr. From there, Earnhardt remained at, or near the front of the field and got the win.

Joey Logano and rookie Ryan Blaney drove to second and third, respectively. Kevin Harvick finished

Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrates Duel win. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. celebrates Duel win. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

fourth, followed by Denny Hamlin – on whom Earnhardt made the winning pass with five laps to go – and Daytona 500 pole winner Chase Elliott.

The first Duel sets the inside lane for the Daytona 500. Hence, Earnhardt, Logano, Blaney, Harvick and Hamlin will line up third, fifth, seventh, ninth and 11th behind Elliott on Sunday.

“Denny is such a great plate racer,” Earnhardt said of Hamlin. “There are a lot of guys that are really good at it these days. I knew he was going to be real tough to get around. When he got the lead (during a sequence of green-flag pit stops), I didn’t know if we were going to be able to get around him.  He’s got a great car and he’s real smart.

“For whatever reason, I was able to get to his quarter-panel, (and) he saw we had a pretty good run. I don’t know, I didn’t think I was going to clear him. We got away from him so he couldn’t side draft us, I guess. I was really surprised as anybody that we got by him. He’ll be tough on Sunday.”

In the second Duel, Busch took the checkered flag under caution after a wild last-lap wreck took out the cars of Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, AJ Allmendinger and Danica Patrick and damaged the No. 41 Chevrolet of Kurt Busch.

Kenseth, who had earned the second spot on the grid as a result of have the second fastest lap in last Sunday’s qualifying session, will go to a backup car and now have to start from the back of the field in the 500.

“We got paper on the grille,” Kenseth said, “which everybody has been getting all week and unfortunately I got it hot, so I had to get me back to second and you wouldn’t think first and second would be much different, but it ended up really being the difference between wrecked and not

Defending Cup champion Kyle Busch claimed the victory in the second Duel on Thursday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

Defending Cup champion Kyle Busch claimed the victory in the second Duel on Thursday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

wrecked, so I let Jimmie (Johnson) get under me. I didn’t want to throw too big of a block and Kyle (Busch) had to go with him. That got me shuffled back a little bit and at that point it probably would have been hindsight to call it a day, but tried to learn what we could today for Sunday and it ended up biting us.”

“I guess it was quiet and calm there for a long time, and the last lap just went kind of crazy,” Kyle Busch said. “Great car. These guys at Joe Gibbs Racing did a phenomenal job this winter building some new pieces for us to come down here with and have some fun.

“Looking forward to starting the Daytona 500 in the fourth spot, but I think I will actually get the outside front row now that Kenseth got caught up in that mess and tore up his car.”

Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Ty Dillon finished second through fifth in the second Duel and will line up behind Kyle Busch in the outside lane on Sunday, provided none of those drivers has to go to a backup car, and provided Elliott chooses the inside lane for the start of the race (the pole winner has lane choice).

Failing to qualify for the Daytona 500 were Cole Whitt, Josh Wise, David Gilliland and Reed Sorenson.

 Jimmie Johnson (48), Martin Truex Jr. (78) and Matt Kenseth (20) wreck during the second Can-Am Duel at the at the Daytona International Speedway on Thursday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Tom Copeland)

Jimmie Johnson (48), Martin Truex Jr. (78) and Matt Kenseth (20) wreck during the second Can-Am Duel at the at the Daytona International Speedway on Thursday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Tom Copeland)

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Can-Am Duel At Daytona 1

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

Thursday, February 18, 2016

  1. (2) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 60
  2. (7) Joey Logano, Ford, 60
  3. (4) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 60
  4. (22) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 60
  5. (6) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 60
  6. (1) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 60
  7. (8) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 60
  8. (11) Greg Biffle, Ford, 60
  9. (15) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 60
  10. (3) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 60
  11. (5) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 60
  12. (17) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 60
  13. (10) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 60
  14. (13) * Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 60
  15. (14) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 60
  16. (20) David Ragan, Toyota, 60
  17. (21) * Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 60
  18. (18) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 60
  19. (16) Bobby Labonte, Ford, 60
  20. (12) Brian Scott #, Ford, Accident, 59
  21. (9) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, Accident, 58
  22. (19) * Cole Whitt, Toyota, Accident, 47

Average Speed of Race Winner:  172.911 mph.

Time of Race:  00 Hrs, 52 Mins, 03 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.183 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  1 for 4 laps.

Lead Changes:  4 among 4 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Elliott # 1-2; D. Earnhardt Jr. 3-39; K. Kahne 40-41; D. Hamlin 42-54; D. Earnhardt Jr. 55-60.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  D. Earnhardt Jr. 2 times for 43 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 13 laps; C. Elliott # 1 time for 2 laps; K. Kahne 1 time for 2 laps.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Can-Am Duel At Daytona 2

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

Thursday, February 18, 2016

  1. (2) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 60
  2. (10) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 60
  3. (5) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 60
  4. (4) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 60
  5. (8) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 60
  6. (11) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 60
  7. (14) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 60
  8. (22) Brian Vickers, Chevrolet, 60
  9. (12) * Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 60
  10. (16) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 60
  11. (17) Landon Cassill, Ford, 60
  12. (19) * David Gilliland, Ford, 60
  13. (3) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 59
  14. (21) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 59
  15. (15) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 59
  16. (1) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 59
  17. (6) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 59
  18. (18) * Robert Richardson Jr., Toyota, 59
  19. (9) Aric Almirola, Ford, 59
  20. (13) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 59
  21. (20) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 56
  22. (7) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, Engine, 31

Average Speed of Race Winner:  191.898 mph.

Time of Race:  0 Hrs, 46 Mins, 54 Secs. Margin of Victory:  Caution.

Caution Flags:  1 for 1 laps.

Lead Changes:  3 among 3 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   M. Kenseth 1-23; Kyle Busch 24-37; A. Almirola 38-39; Kyle Busch 40-60.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Busch 2 times for 35 laps; M. Kenseth 1 time for 23 laps; A. Almirola 1 time for 2 laps.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, February 19 2016
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