Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth are new teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing but Kenseth helped pushed Busch to a win in the second Budweiser Duel on Thursday, one of the twin qualifying races for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Kenseth’s late-race push and a call by crew chief Dave Rogers to not take tires on a late-race pit stop helped Busch grab a win on a warm afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.
Busch crossed the finish line .093 of a second ahead of Kasey Kahne in the second of the twin qualifying races that set the 43-car field for the season-opening Daytona 500. Busch’s victory means the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry will start fourth in the 55th Daytona 500 on Sunday.
“This is awesome to be able to put the M&M’S Camry in victory lane,” said Busch, who led twice for 19 laps in the non-points race. “Coming to pit road is what won us the race – being able to beat the other guys, out-braking them getting into the pits and not sliding any tires. Dave Rogers (crew chief) made a great call of no tires and to get fuel only to get us out front. I had a great teammate behind me in Matt Kenseth pushing me there at the end. This is always a fun race and it gives us a great starting spot for Sunday.”
Kenseth, driver of the No. 20 JGR Toyota, finished fifth in the second Budweiser Duel race. He will start 12th in the Daytona 500. Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Toyota for JGR, finished 20th in the first Budweiser Duel after being caught up in a lap-54 accident and will start 35th in the Daytona 500.
Danica Patrick will start Sunday’s Daytona 500 from the pole and Jeff Gordon will join Patrick on the front row after the two secured their starting spots during pole qualifying laps on Sunday. Kevin Harvick, who won the first Budweiser Duel by .165 of a second over Greg Biffle, will start third.
Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III announced Thursday that the Budweiser Duel will move under the lights in 2014. The races are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. The announcement was made on the same day the 2013 races were being run on a weekday afternoon, a time when much of the TV audience is at work or school.
The Daytona 500 gets underway at 1 p.m. EST Sunday, Feb. 24 with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at noon.