Daytona Beach, Florida--(NASCAR.com) Five days after winning The Sprint Unlimited, Kevin Harvick won Thursday’s Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway, putting him on the inside lane -- and perhaps giving him the inside track -- in Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Harvick passed leader Trevor Bayne on Lap 37 and led the remaining 23 laps in the first of two 150-mile, 60-lap Duel races that set the order for the Great American Race.
“We didn’t come here to run 10th or 12th, wherever we were running,” said Harvick, who made his move on the inside lane. “We wanted to make something happen."
Kyle Busch followed suit, winning Duel 2 after opting for gas only during his one pit stop on Lap 41 and beating the rest of the pack off pit road. Busch, who started fourth in Duel 2, will have the fourth spot on the grid for Sunday’s Daytona 500 due to his finish Thursday.
“That was not our original plan,” Busch revealed after the race. “Our original plan was two tires, but he (Rogers) called it. They were just harping on me to make sure, don’t slide your tires. Because you don’t want to slide a left front (tire) and then have to take four. So, when I came down, I got a good braking mark and I got slowed down and started to slow down nice and smooth and then Marcos (Ambrose) was locked up in front of me sliding all of the tires so I had to go around him.
“So, I felt like I got a really good pit road entry. I felt like I ran good pit road speed all of the way down pit road and getting into my box was great. The guys just filled the tank for five seconds. It’s all we needed and we ended up back here. We got out front where it mattered most and got teamed up with a couple of Toyota’s which was great."
Jeff Gordon, who couldn’t improve on his starting position for Sunday’s season-opening race, led for the first 40 laps of Duel 2. He was sent to the back after getting a pass through penalty coming off pit road and was content to cruise for the rest of the race.
Gordon will start second Sunday to Danica Patrick, who played it safe Thursday in Duel 1. After posting the top time during qualifying, the only way Patrick would have lost that top spot is if she would have wrecked Thursday.
Patrick led the pack to the green flag in the opener, but ceded the lead to Bayne on the first lap. As Patrick dropped toward the middle of the pack and cars began to go three-wide around her, the driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet moved to the back of the field to stay out of trouble and save her car for the Daytona 500.
Greg Biffle, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch rounded out the top five in Duel 1. Scott Speed finished 15th, the final spot that guaranteed an entry into the Daytona 500.
Finishing behind Busch in Duel 2 were Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth, who was in second place entering the final lap. It was an especially strong showing for the 22-year-old Dillon, who is driving the No. 33 Chevrolet. Unofficially, Dave Blaney finished 15th.
“We have a good hot rod,” Dillon said in a TV interview following the race. “This thing is all about being there at the end, go into conservation mode early and get them at the end.”
Both Duels had relatively peaceful racing, with the only caution flag coming on Lap 52 in Duel 1 when Denny Hamlin bumped Carl Edwards, triggering a crash that sent the No. 99 Ford into the wall and also claimed Bayne’s No. 21 Ford. Bayne, who led the majority of the race, will go to a back-up car and start from the rear Sunday.
“I was driving along, minding my own business … then I saw in my mirror, it seemed like Denny got sideways,” Edwards told a TV reporter following the race. “But that’s the fourth time we’ve wreck a car since we’ve been down here.”
Martin Truex Jr., who was in the lead pack for most of the race in Duel 1, dropped to 19th place after being black flagged for losing a side window on the final lap.
Here is the starting lineup for Sunday’s Daytona 500:
1. Danica Patrick, No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
2. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
3. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
4. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
5. Greg Biffle, No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
6. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
7. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
8. Austin Dillon, No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
9. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
10. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
11. Kurt Busch, No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
12. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
13. Tony Stewart, No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
14. Mark Martin, No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
15. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Penske Racing Ford
16. Paul Menard, No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
17. Casey Mears, No. 13 Germain Racing Ford
18. Jeff Burton, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
19. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
20. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
21. Joey Logano, No. 22 Penske Racing Ford
22. David Ragan, No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford
23. Bobby Labonte, No. 47 JTG Daugherty Motorsports Toyota
24. Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
25. David Gilliland, No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford
26. Aric Almirola, No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
27. Joe Nemechek, No. 87 Nemco-JRR Toyota
28. Ricky Stenhouse, No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
29. Michael Waltrip, No. 26 Swan Racing Toyota
30. Dave Blaney, No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
31. Scott Speed, No. 95 Leavine Family Racing Ford
32. Josh Wise, No. 35 Front Row Motorsports Ford
33. Trevor Bayne, No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford
34. Ryan Newman, No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
35. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
36. Carl Edwards, No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford
37. Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
38. Michael McDowell, No. 98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford
39. Terry Labonte, No. 32 FASLane Racing Ford
40. Regan Smith, No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet
41. J.J. Yeley, No. 36 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
42. David Reutimann, No. 83 BK Racing Toyota
43. Travis Kvapil, No. 93 BK Racing Toyota
Failed to qualifying: Brian Keselowski, Mike Bliss