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Matt Kenseth wins duel race one at Daytona International

Austin Dillon, #3 DOW Chevrolet, and Greg Biffle, #16 3M Ford, lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida
Austin Dillon, #3 DOW Chevrolet, and Greg Biffle, #16 3M Ford, lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida
Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images

With the Daytona Duel number one written in the books for 2014. Matt Kenseth came out on top driving the #20 Dollar General Toyota in his sophomore season with Joe Gibbs Racing, with a three wide race to the finish, with Kevin Harvick, and his new team at Stewart-Haas Racing driving the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, as well as Kasey Kahne driving the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports this Thursday evening at Daytona International Speedway.

On the final lap coming off of turn 4, Harvick pulled to the inside of Kenseth with a run, Kenseth had momentum on the high side of the tri-oval as Kahne dropped to the inside of Harvick, trying to sneak by as Kenseth and Harvick raced hard to the line, the #20 Toyota held on for a victory by a 0.22 second margin.

This win gives Kenseth the third starting position in Sunday’s Daytona 500. Harvick will start fifth and Kahne will start seventh.

“I had a really strong Dollar General Toyota Camry,” said Kenseth in victory lane. “Kevin is one of the best, Kevin, Tony (Stewart), there’s a few of them guys you want to see them behind you because you trust them they do the right things, but you also don’t because they’re so smart. I saw him laying back getting a run and he made the perfect move, I just was fortunate to get to his right rear early enough to get a big enough run to get me back to the finish line.”

Josh Wise finished sixth, whereas Cole Whitt, after wrecking his car yesterday during practice and spending part of yesterday and today rebuilding the car to a drivable condition for his shot to make the Great American race, was granted entry with a 12th place finish in Duel 1, and Alex Bowman finished 15th. If these drivers missed out on the top 15 it would have left them in a precarious position because of their slow qualifying times and a low standing in the end of the season owner points for 2013.

“My guys pulled together and made it happen,” said Whitt. “My hat’s off to them. To be in the Daytona 500 is something I’ve dreamed of my whole life.”

The top 15 drivers from each Daytona Duel race are guaranteed a starting position into the Daytona 500, Tony Stewart drove from the back of the field up to the 11th position during the final laps, and he will not be using his Past Champion’s Provisional starting position. If his teammate Kurt Busch fails to finish in the top 15 of the second Duel race of the evening Busch will be guaranteed a starting spot if need be.

Kyle Busch, finished 21st and missed out on the top 15th, and finish as the last car on the lead lap, but he is guaranteed a provisional starting position from the 2013 owner points. As well as Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who finished out the top 15, but he was one of the four fastest qualifiers remaining, guaranteeing him a spot as well.

Harvick’s #4 Budweiser Chevrolet failed post-race inspection, the car exceeded maximum split on track bar, his car 2nd place duel finished is disqualifying, leaving Brian Vickers in and Harvick now having to fall back on his qualifying time to start the Great American Race on Sunday.

The drivers finished as follows
1. Matt Kenseth
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Kasey Kahne
4. Marcos Ambrose
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6. Jose Wise
7. Aric Almirola
8. A.J. Allmendinger
9. David Gilliland
10. Ryan Newman
11. Tony Stewart
12. Cole Whitt
13. Greg Biffle
14. Danica Patrick
15. Alex Bowman
16. Brian Vickers
17. Joey Logano
18. Parker Kligerman
19. Austin Dillon
20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
21. Kyle Busch
22. Michael McDowell
23. Joe Nemechek
24. Reed Sorenson