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Gatorade Duel 150s, Busch wins Race 1, Burton Race 2

NASCAR
Thursday, February 17, 2011

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Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch proved his victory in Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout was no fluke.

Jeff Burton, with an assist from Clint Bowyer, used the Shootout as an object lesson and figured out how to stay in front at the finish at Daytona International Speedway.

On Thursday afternoon, Busch and Burton each won a Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying race for the first time—Busch capturing the first event with a sustained push from Regan Smith, Burton edging Richard Childress Racing teammate Bowyer in a photo finish in the second Duel.

Busch earned an extra bonus for his victory. He’ll lead the field to the green flag in Sunday’s Daytona 500, because pole winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrecked during Wednesday’s practice, went to a backup car and must start NASCAR’s most important race from the rear of the field.

Jeff Gordon, who qualified second on Sunday and finished 12th in the second Duel, will start from the outside of the front row based on his effort in time trials. Burton will start behind Gordon in fourth position.

Smith finished second in the first Duel and will line up in third position for the 500 after Earnhardt drops to the rear before the start. Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne completed the top five in the first Duel.

Bowyer crossed the finish line .005 seconds behind Burton and will start sixth in Sunday’s race. Michael Waltrip raced his way into the 500 by virtue of a third-place finish in the second Duel, followed by Kyle Busch and Brian Keselowski, who was pushed to his fifth-place finish by his brother Brad Keselowski.

“It’s the Double Deuce power right now,” said Kurt Busch, who changed sponsors from Miller Lite to Shell/Pennzoil and car number from 2 to 22 this year. “Great ride through these Speedweeks—being in the right place at the right time.

“To be in those positions, you have to have a good drafting partner. I had that with Regan Smith (Thursday), had it with (Jamie) McMurray on Saturday night (in the Shootout). But you can’t be in those positions if you don’t build a great racecar.”

Busch was reluctant to savor the victory too much, but his success bodes well for the 500.

“I can’t get too far ahead of myself, because this is Daytona, and this place can jump up and bite you pretty quick,” Busch said. “But we’re going to ride this wave. We’ve made all the right decisions so far with all of our adjustments on our car, adapting to the rule changes with restrictor-plate sizes and grille opening sizes. This is a new era at Daytona in my mind.”

It was a new era, too, in the eyes of the fans, who saw cars racing in pairs throughout the afternoon, despite NASCAR’s best efforts to break up the two-car drafts through rule changes that theoretically would make water temperatures reach limits more quickly.

Nevertheless, the Fords in particular were able to push other cars for sustained periods simply by ducking out from behind the lead car and getting air to the engines.

Jeff Burton won Race 2
In Burton’s view, being able to work with Bowyer was a distinct plus. The Chevrolet drivers took turns pushing each other until Bowyer made a run at the win as the cars approached the finish line.

“It’s an advantage to have a teammate—there’s no question about it,” Burton said. “Everybody can see that. The difficult part is getting with a teammate.

“We worked diligently to make sure we were with a teammate. We tried very hard to be with Clint. Everywhere he went, I went. Everywhere I went, he went. (Crew chief) Todd (Berrier) said it best: It’s a shame there wasn’t room in victory lane for both cars.”

Bill Elliott and J.J. Yeley transferred to the Daytona 500 from the first Duel, joining Waltrip and Brian Keselowski in Sunday’s race. Joe Nemechek, Travis Kvapil and Dave Blaney also made the field as the fastest three cars in time trials not otherwise qualified. Terry Labonte will start the race on a past champion’s provisional.

Note: The first Duel set a record for lead changes (21), since the format of the Duels went from 125 to 150 miles in 2005. The second Duel reset the standard with 22 lead changes.

Race 1 Results

FIN CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR LAPS STATUS
1 22 Kurt Busch Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 62 Running
2 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 62 Running
3 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 62 Running
4 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal Black 62 Running
5 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota Red Bull 62 Running
6 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 62 Running
7 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Best Buy 62 Running
8 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 62 Running
9 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Peak / Menards 62 Running
10 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 62 Running
11 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 62 Running
12 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 62 Running
13 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 62 Running
14 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 62 Running
15 09 Bill Elliott Chevrolet Phoenix Construction 62 Running
16 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Kroger / USO 62 Running
17 46 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Red Line Oil 62 Running
18 97 Kevin Conway Toyota Extenze 62 Running
19 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AM FM Energy 62 Running
20 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 62 Running
21 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Stanley 62 Running
22 71 Andy Lally Chevrolet Adobe Road Winery 60 Running
23 66 Michael McDowell Toyota HP Racing LLC 53 Running
24 34 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 40 Out of Race

Race 2 Results

FIN CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR LAPS STATUS
1 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 60 Running
2 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 60 Running
3 115 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 60 Running
4 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 60 Running
5 192 Brian Keselowski Dodge K-Automotive Motorsports 60 Running
6 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 60 Running
7 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 60 Running
8 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 60 Running
9 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 60 Running
10 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 60 Running
11 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 60 Running
12 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 60 Running
13 38 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 60 Running
14 64 Derrike Cope Toyota Sta-Bil 60 Running
15 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 60 Running
16 37 Robert Richardson Jr. Ford North Texas Pipe 60 Running
17 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Speed Energy 60 Running
18 32 Terry Labonte Ford U.S. Chrome 60 Running
19 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 60 Running
20 6 David Ragan Ford UPS "We Love Logistics" 60 Running
21 60 Todd Bodine Toyota Tire Kingdom / Valvoline 54 In Pit
22 77 Steve Wallace Toyota 5-Hour Energy 54 In Pit
23 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 15 Running
24 13 Casey Mears Toyota GEICO 2 Out of Race

* Denotes Rookie

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