Harvick, Ky. Busch claim second row for the Daytona 500

6:27 PM, Feb 21, 2013   |    comments
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Daytona Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch will start on the second row for Sunday's Daytona 500 after both drivers won the Budweiser Duel twin-qualifying races on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.

Harvick grabbed the third starting position for the 500-mile race after taking the checkered flag for the first qualifier. Harvick, who won last Saturday's Sprint Unlimited preseason event at Daytona, held off Greg Biffle at the finish line by just 0.16 seconds. It was the first time he has won a qualifier in 11 attempts.

Biffle also finished second to Harvick in the preseason event. He will start fifth in the Daytona 500.

Juan Pablo Montoya finished third, while Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five.

Sixth through 10th were: Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, the reigning Sprint Cup Series champion, Casey Mears, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Joey Logano. Earnhardt had to start from the rear of the field after blowing an engine during Wednesday's practice for the qualifiers.

Bobby Labonte, David Gilliland, Joe Nemechek, Michael Waltrip and Scott Speed placed 11th through 15th, respectively.

Martin Truex Jr. crossed the line in the top-10, but Truex was black-flagged by race officials after the side window came off of his car. His 19th-place finish allowed Speed to grab a spot in the Daytona 500.

In the second qualifier, Busch edged Kasey Kahne to the finish line by 0.09 seconds for his second win in this event. With no cautions, it took just 46 minutes and 24 seconds to complete at an average speed of 193.966 mph, making it the second quickest Duel in its history.

Austin Dillon will make his first start in the Daytona 500 after finishing third in the qualifier. Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth, who won last year's 500-miler, rounded out the top-five.

Mark Martin, Paul Menard, Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray and David Ragan placed sixth through 10th, respectively.

Finishing 11th through 15th were: Marcos Ambrose, Jeff Gordon, Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., a rookie in the series this year, and Dave Blaney.

The top-15 finishers in each of the two qualifiers guaranteed themselves a starting position in the Daytona 500.

Danica Patrick and Gordon had already secured the front row for the Daytona 500. Patrick won the pole position, while Gordon grabbed the second starting position during last Sunday's time trials.

Since Gordon finished 12th in the second Duel, Josh Wise's 16th-place run earned him a spot in the 500. Gordon dominated most of the race by leading 38 of the 60 laps, but a pit road speeding penalty late in the event put him out of contention to win.

After starting on the pole for the first qualifier, Patrick played it safe by dropping to the back of the draft. She ran there for most of the event before moving through the field en route to a 17th-place finish.

The first qualifier ran caution free until seven laps remaining when a multi- car crash occurred on the backstretch. Denny Hamlin got loose coming out of turn two and bumped into Carl Edwards, who spun around and slammed hard into the outside wall.

Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona winner, and Regan Smith were involved in the wreck as well. Edwards has now crashed three times during Speedweeks activities at Daytona. Bayne had led the first 37 laps before Harvick ran in front for remaining 23 circuits.

The only incident that occurred in the final Duel was Ryan Newman spinning around on the frontstretch after he could not get onto pit road during the round of stops. Newman punctured a tire and fell two laps off the pace to finish 21st. He is guaranteed a spot in the 500 based on his fourth-place result in time trials.

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

Here is more on the races from Daytona International Speedway:

Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch won their respective Budweiser Duels Thursday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway and will roll off the starting grid from the second row for Sunday's 55th annual Daytona 500.

Finding himself in a similar situation as in The Sprint Unlimited last Saturday, Harvick once again showed his superior blocking skills by holding off two lanes of cars to secure the win over Greg Biffle by 0.165 seconds. It is the second time in a week that Harvick and Biffle have finished 1-2; Harvick took The Sprint Unlimited over Biffle by 0.149 seconds.

"We've been fortunate to win the first two races of Speedweeks," said Harvick, who now has six career wins at the 'World Center of Racing.' "We just have to keep a level head on our shoulders, not get too high over what we've done, and just do the same things that we've done. If (winning the Daytona 500 is) meant to be, it's meant to be. I think we definitely have the car and team to be in contention to do that.

"To get our first win with Budweiser onboard for the first time in the Duels is really cool," added Harvick.

"You have to be in the right place at the right time," said Biffle. "You have to get a run and have some cars with you. A bunch of people wanted to know why I didn't turn him. It doesn't take any talent to wreck somebody for the win and wreck 20 cars behind you. You have to run as hard as you can and trade a little paint, but at the same time, we all have to finish."

Busch's win over Kasey Kahne and Austin Dillon in the second Budweiser Duel marks his second victory in the 150-mile races. Unlike Harvick, who laid back for the first half of his race, Busch kept his No. 18 Toyota near the front of the field and led two different times for a  total of 19 laps.

"This is certainly a huge confidence boost for our team, being able to set the momentum in the right direction at the start of the season," said Busch.

Dillon, who will start eighth in his first "Great American Race" on Sunday, was thankful for such a good run behind the wheel of the No. 33 Chevrolet.

"It's pretty exciting," said Dillon. "I'm glad my grandfather (team owner Richard Childress) can sleep now. He was wearing me out before the race, especially when those three cars (qualified in the first Duel). It was a blast out there."

With no cautions in the second Duel to slow the pack, the 22 drivers posted the second-highest speed in the history of the Duels with a pace of 193.966 mph - just 0.209 mph slower than the record set by Matt Kenseth in last year's second Budweiser Duel.

Danica Patrick, who has secured the pole for Sunday's Daytona 500, will become the first woman to lead the field to the green flag in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

"I think what I really need to do is go down to Harvick's bus tonight and figure out what he's got going on," said Patrick when asked what she learned today. "He's got it figured out here this year, so, good job to him."

Of the 45 drivers participating in the Duels, only 12 were guaranteed a spot in NASCAR's biggest, richest and most prestigious race. Brian Keselowski - brother of defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad - and Mike Bliss were the two cars who did not make the 43-car field.

Racing action resumes Friday with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250, which will be run under the lights at 8:00 ET (SPEED, MRN Radio).

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