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Gordon, Busch win the twin qualifying races

NASCAR
Thursday, February 12, 2009

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Jeff Gordon celebrates
Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon is up on the wheel again.
 
The DuPont driver, who didn't win a race in 2008, held off Tony Stewart and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson to win the first of two Gatorade qualifying races for Sunday's Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
   
Rookie Joey Logano was fourth in Stewart's former Home Depot Chevrolet and another rookie was fifth, Aric Almirola.
   
Gordon passed the lead back and forth with Stewart like a hot potato in the last six laps, bringing the crowd to its feet.
   
It was Stewart's second outing in his new role as owner/driver with Office Depot as primary sponsor.
   
Jeff Gordon takes the checkered flag
While Gordon won the race and went to Victory Lane, garage insiders were congratulating driver Scott Riggs and his car owner, former crew chief Tommy Baldwin. Riggs drove his independent Toyota to a hard-earned eighth-place finish, assuring him a starting spot in the Great American Race. Stewart and Riggs claimed the two available starting positions set aside for the two highest-finishing teams that did not finish 2008 in the top 35 in NASCAR Sprint Cup owner points.
 
Kurt Busch drove his Miller Lite Dodge to a sixth-place finish despite a spin early in the race that sent him to the rear of the field. Kasey Kahne was seventh in the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge.
 
Pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. led the first lap and Bill Elliott led the second as the field remained bunched like a pod of baitfish. Busch spun out of turn four on the third lap to bring out the caution flag.
 
Truex regained the lead on the restart and led a four-car breakaway that included Gordon, Riggs and Johnson.

Another caution waved on Lap 24 when Mike Skinner fell off the pace and Bill Elliott's fast Ford lost a transmission. Both cars went behind the wall out of the race.
   
On the restart, Truex remained out front with Gordon, Stewart, David Ragan, Matt Kenseth, Johnson, Riggs, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard and Almirola lined up behind him.
 
Gordon got a push from Stewart and roared past Truex with 20 laps remaining but that wasn't the end of his problems. On Lap 48, Truex, who had dropped to sixth spot, spun in turn two. His spin brought out the caution once again with just 10 laps to go. Four cars, including Stewart and Riggs, pitted for tires and put themselves in the rear of the field for the restart.
 
McMurray was in front on the restart but another 185-mile-an-hour traffic jam brought out another caution with just seven laps remaining.
 
The Gordon-Stewart showdown took over from there.

Kyle Busch made it look easy in race 2 with superior Toyota power
Race 2 Recap

Kyle Busch, who we pick to win it all on Sunday using his Toyota power, is for real. The young NASCAR superstar kept his cool, put his Toyota on cruise control and got a shove from teammate Denny Hamlin with just a couple laps left to pass Mark Martin and win the second Gatorade 150 Qualifying Race for Sunday's Daytona 500.
   
Martin, the 50-year-old ageless phenom, led lots of laps before finishing second ahead of Brian Vickers. If you added the total age of the winner, Busch, and the third-place finisher Vickers, it wouldn't match Martin's racing years but the veteran driver stayed up on the wheel with the young guns in a blazing down-to-the-wire shootout that had a huge crowd cheering wildly at the end.
 
Juan Pablo Montoya passed Hamlin on the final lap to finish fourth.

Kyle Busch celebrates
Bobby Labonte was sixth in the No. 96 Ask.com Ford, a nice finish for the Hall of Fame Racing single-car team.

Rounding out the top 10 were Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeremy Mayfield, and AJ Allmendinger.
   
Earnhardt led laps but fell back when a cut tire forced him to make an unscheduled pit stop.
   
While it wasn't Earnhardt's afternoon, Mayfield and Allmendinger had to be happy. Both drivers were among those whose only chance to get in the Daytona 500 was to finish ahead of other drivers in the same boat. They did, racing hard all the way.
 
Mayfield was trying to make it, as did owner Tommy Baldwin and driver Scott Riggs in the first race, as a new single-car team. Mayfield is both owner and driver.
   
The final four starting spots in The Great American Race went to Bill Elliott, Travis Kvapil, and Regan Smith,  as well as former champion Terry Labonte, who received the former champion's provisional.
 
Elliott, Kvapil and Smith were added to the lineup in the final spots based on their time trial speeds.

Results Race 1

FIN

ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 5 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont PE 60 Running
2 6 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice PE 60 Running
3 3 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's PE 60 Running
4 10 20 Joey Logano * Toyota The Home Depot PE 60 Running
5 4 8 Aric Almirola Chevrolet Guitar Hero PE 60 Running
6 22 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite PE 60 Running
7 19 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser PE 60 Running
8 15 36 Scott Riggs Toyota Tommy Baldwin Racing PE 60 Running
9 7 98 Paul Menard Ford Quaker State / Menards PE 60 Running
10 12 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal PE 60 Running
11 9 187 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO Motorsports PE 60 Running
12 18 09 Brad Keselowski Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming PE 60 Running
13 14 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Little Debbie PE 60 Running
14 21 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's PE 60 Running
15 16 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA PE 60 Running
16 23 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 PE 60 Running
17 28 146 Carl Long Dodge Romeo Guest Construction PE 60 Running
18 25 37 Tony Raines Dodge Long John Silver's PE 60 Running
19 26 66 Terry Labonte Toyota Window World PE 60 Running
20 24 127 Kirk Shelmerdine Toyota Kirk Shelmerdine Racing PE 60 Running
21 1 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker PE 60 Running
22 20 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Jim Beam PE 60 In Pit
23 13 6 David Ragan Ford UPS PE 60 Running
24 8 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M PE 58 In Pit
25 17 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Window World PE 53 In Pit
26 11 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Dewalt PE 52 In Pit
27 2 21 Bill Elliott Ford Motorcraft PE 25 In Pit
28 27 123 Mike Skinner Chevrolet Mahindra Tractors PE 23 Running

Results Race 2

FIN

ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 8 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's PE 60 Running
2 1 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Kellogg's / Carquest PE 60 Running
3 18 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull PE 60 Running
4 3 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target PE 60 Running
5 13 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express PE 60 Running
6 5 96 Bobby Labonte Ford Ask.com PE 60 Running
7 6 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard PE 60 Running
8 14 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac PE 60 Running
9 21 41 Jeremy Mayfield Toyota All Sport PE 60 Running
10 19 44 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Valvoline PE 60 Running
11 12 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper PE 60 Running
12 20 12 David Stremme Dodge Penske Racing PE 60 Running
13 22 171 Mike Wallace Chevrolet TRG Motorsports PE 60 Running
14 17 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar PE 60 Running
15 10 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine PE 60 Running
16 7 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Racing PE 60 Running
17 16 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Stanley PE 60 Running
18 24 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil PE 60 Running
19 4 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Golden Corral PE 60 Running
20 26 51 Kelly Bires Dodge FABgrills / KrugerFarms.com PE 60 Running
21 15 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge McDonald's PE 60 Running
22 25 175 Derrike Cope Dodge Blu Frog Energy Drink PE 58 Running
23 28 157 Norm Benning Chevrolet D3 Outdoor PE 55 Running
24 2 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army PE 47 Running
25 9 82 Scott Speed * Toyota Red Bull PE 44 In Pit
26 23 73 Mike Garvey Dodge Jani-King PE 27 In Pit
28 11 08 Boris Said Ford U.S. Chrome / Scotts Bonus S Max PE 13 In Pit

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