|Kyle Busch Celebrates In Daytona Victory Lane|
|Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images|
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kyle Busch won Thursday night's running of the second Can-Am Duel qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway, showing that the Toyota's of Joe Gibbs Racing could be the team to beat in Sunday's Daytona 500.
Busch and his teammate Matt Kenseth combined to lead all 60 laps of the race, with Busch cruising to the checkered flag over Jamie McMurray to win his third Can-Am Duel.
Kurt Busch finished third, followed by Carl Edwards and Ty Dillon.
Kenseth, who captured the outside pole for Sunday's Daytona 500, was caught up in last-lap crash and will likely have to go to a back-up car for the 500, which will give Busch a front-row start.
"I didn't win this race to qualify myself for the fourth starting position, but with our teammate having trouble there at the end of the race, they'll have to go to a backup car, it looks," said Busch. "We'll get a chance to start on the front row. That's pretty cool."
It fitting that Busch would end up in Victory Lane at Daytona, after missing out on last year's Daytona 500 and much of the first quarter of the 2015 season after suffering injuries in the season-opening Xfinity Series race.
"I don't necessarily feel any redemption tonight. I think if I could end up in Victory Lane on Sunday, then I certainly think it would kind of come full circle essentially," said Busch. "I'd love to have that happen, but I'm not expecting anything from the racetrack or the racing gods to make that happen."
Kenseth led from the pole after winning the outside front row in Daytona 500 qualifying and held the top spot with teammates Kyle Busch and Edwards running nose to tail for the first 23 laps before yielding the lead to his teammate Kyle Busch in order to blow some trash off his grill.
Busch held the top spot through the only round of pit stops with 20 laps to go and beat Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson off pit road to hold onto the top spot.
Busch, Kenseth and Johnson ran single file for the next 14 laps with no one daring to pull out of line to try and make a move.
Finally, with six laps to go, Johnson made his move on Kenseth and powered to the inside trying to pick up a draft from a pair of lapped cars, but he quickly lost momentum and tucked back in line as he and Kenseth began to fall back through the field.
Up front, Casey Mears inherited the lead but his good fortune was short-lived as he ran out of gas, moving McMurray up to second.
Coming into the final lap, Johnson raced his way back into the third spot behind McMurray and was looking to make a move on the high side when McMurray moved up and got into the front of Johnson, sending the no. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet spinning. Johnson caromed off the car of Kurt Busch and then back up the track into the path of Martin Truex, AJ Allmendinger and Kenseth.
Up front, Kyle Busch had already taken the white flag and took the checkered flag under caution for his third Can-Am Duel victory.
Teammates Robert Richardson, Jr, and Matt DiBenedetto but earned spots in the field for the Daytona 500, while David Gilliland Reed Sorenson will miss the show.
KYLE BUSCH, NO. 18 M&M’S TOYOTA CAMRY – WINNER
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]KYLE BUSCH: We're now joined in the media center by tonight's second Can-Am Duel race winner, Kyle Busch (laughter). Oh, there's someone here.
THE MODERATOR: You're doing a great job.
KYLE BUSCH: This is his second Duel win in history.
THE MODERATOR: Third.
KYLE BUSCH: Third? Cool, all right. How many at Daytona? Is this like my seventh total? I don't know. Anyway, who's got questions?
THE MODERATOR: Did you want to talk about starting on the second row with the third win here.
KYLE BUSCH: Well, actually, I think I get to start on the front row now. I didn't win this race to qualify myself for the fourth starting position, but with our teammate having trouble there at the end of the race, they'll have to go to a backup car, it looks. We'll get a chance to start on the front row. That's pretty cool.
Definitely a unique opportunity for us and our team. Joe Gibbs Racing has come down with more speed this time around. In the Can-Am Duels tonight we also showed we had good speed. Denny had a fast car. Myself, Matt and Carl, we ran up in the top three much of the race. Then pit stops kind of changed the order around a little bit, there at the end again with guys going for positions and trying to race a little bit and get themselves a better starting spot, it got a little bit hectic, I'd say.
For us, all good. Ready for Sunday.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.
It would depend on where Chase Elliott chooses what line, right?
KYLE BUSCH: Sure.
Are you more happy with the win or that you have your primary car for the Daytona 500?
KYLE BUSCH: Definitely more happy with the win tonight. Anytime you get to go to Victory Lane, it's just a little bit more special.
As of right now, we do still have the opportunity to tear up our car and start in a backup, too. Let's not start with that.
All in all, with the way tonight went, the way our speed has been, I'm pretty optimistic for Sunday.
This weekend doesn't tell you a thing about the rest of the season. Things will change. How do you approach the rest of the 35 races knowing this weekend is kind of an anomaly?
KYLE BUSCH: You just take one of them at a time. That's all you can do. Daytona obviously lends itself with this restrictor plate package to pack racing. We see that quite a bit down here in Daytona. It's always a good, exciting race, tends to be towards the end. I wouldn't expect anything less out of the Daytona 500 here on Sunday.
When you leave here on Sunday without a race victory, it's just another race. You just look on to the next one. The next one comes pretty quick. It's about four days later before you're already at the next venue.
With Atlanta, then the West Coast swing coming up, things tend to get going pretty quick. After about five, six, seven, eight races definitely you start to see where you're at, where your season is, where your competition is, stuff like that.
We focus a lot more on those races throughout our whole off-season than we do Daytona, but you still want to win here, of course.
After the first Duel, Denny said because he didn't have a teammate, it was inevitable that Earnhardt was going to pass him. Do you feel like if the Toyotas get together and work together, you have something for the 88?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, you definitely have a better opportunity when you're able to have cars behind you that are willing to do whatever you're going to do in order to make a move for the lead. There towards the end of the race I wasn't sure if Matt was protecting me or if he was trying to get the lead. But there was a lot of back and forth, gaps opened up in order to get a run on the guy in front of you.
I think the 48 was behind him. He was obviously trying to make some moves and do some things. With two teammates, though, it tends to get a little bit easier. But it's so hard to get a big enough run on the leader and to time it all exactly perfect to get the lead over that guy, you know, you can see the leader still be able to block pretty well.
I think with the Duel races, though, you see everything a lot slower. Runs aren't as big than you'll see in the Daytona 500 because you'll have twice the amount of cars essentially.
All the Gibbs cars have been great. With the practices left, do you think you'll be in all those? What's left to work on?
KYLE BUSCH: I think for us, I'd like to get in the pack. I need a heat-of-the-day afternoon session where the temps are warmer. I don't know we'll see that tomorrow to get out on the racetrack in a pack-style draft.
Our guys are going to go through the car tonight and tomorrow, get the engine swapped over. We'll be on track tomorrow for some practices just to shake it all down, make sure our heights are right, make sure there's no leaks. We'll sit Saturday out.
We have limited time left to get ourselves in a pack. We don't want to take the chance to tear up our racecar.
We know we have a good enough piece and something that's handling and driving well enough that anything that's thrown at us Sunday during the race we should be able to overcome.
Did you anticipate what was going to happen behind you? Had that not happened, was your plan to pretty much out-horsepower him to the line?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, my plan was to just have everybody stay single file and we take the checkered flag. They didn't see the same thing I did.
They started jockeying for position. I guess the 13 ran out of gas, got things mixed up a little bit more, which pulled the pack off of me, and I had a huge lead. When that happened, I thought I was a sitting duck. I was going to get freight trained by those guys when they caught back up to me.
They started gaining on me so slow, it wasn't happening as fast as I expected it to. When they got close to me, that's when the big gap closed. When they sucked up on me, it shocked me it was so late. By then they didn't have enough of a run to make a move. I was able to protect that spot, still, coming to the line for the white.
After that, I don't know what happened. I don't know if McMurray was dragging brake to get another break on me, Jimmie was to his side. They started crashing in my mirror. At that point I knew it was over.
Only half the field you're going to face Sunday. Did you watch the first race tonight? Do you have any thoughts on sizing up the competition there?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, no doubt. I definitely watched the first one, for sure. I thought Denny was pretty good. I thought him and Wheeler pulled out a good pit stop to get up front and get the lead. What was interesting was coming to pit road. He was eighth in line, they called him into pit, he skipped a lap of pitting, was able to circle around and come back into pit road with the 88 on his tail. He jumped eight cars in line. His pit strategy, the way he thought about it…
[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]That was good to see.
From there, the 88 had some speed definitely. I think there were some opportunities that Denny let the 88 have him, wasn't able to put a big enough block on him or something like that to hold the lead.
Your teammates are going to backup cars. As a driver, how difficult is it to adjust to that new car on short notice?
KYLE BUSCH: It's not too bad. All these cars are built pretty close. There's a lot of sister cars and things like that that they build two, three, four at a time. Right back-to-back. They're all the same sequence and chassis numbers. The way we do our seats nowadays with the port inserts, they're very repeatable.
Just being able to go out there and have the opportunity to hit the racetrack one more time, that's really good for everybody. If it was the last lap of practice on Saturday and you had to a start the race on Sunday with no laps on it, that's a lot tougher.
The guys were going to have their hands full anyway swapping motors and doing other stuff to get prepared for the Sunday race. Now you pull a car out of the trailer, you still have to do the motor swap and stuff to that car. It's just a little bit of added work for the guys, but it's not too bad.
Do you feel like this track owes you anything after what happened here last year?
KYLE BUSCH: No, I don't think so. There's been a lot of guys that maybe have thought that, maybe have discarded that theory over the years. I've kind of discarded it.
I don't think you're ever owed anything. I think certain things just come back through cycle. I can't think of an example exactly. But there may be times where you're at a racetrack, you're horrible at it. You suck, you suck, you suck. You come so close to winning a particular race, boom, it's taken out from underneath you. A few years later you win it. You kind of feel a little bit of redemption about it.
I think for me, I don't necessarily feel any redemption tonight. I think if I could end up in Victory Lane on Sunday, then I certainly think it would kind of come full circle essentially. I'd love to have that happen, but I'm not expecting anything from the racetrack or the racing gods to make that happen.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Kyle. Congratulations and good luck on Sunday.
KYLE BUSCH: Thank you.
Results 2nd 150-Miler
|14||78||Martin Truex Jr||Toyota||21||59||0||Running|
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