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NASCAR Capsules: Harvick, Kyle Busch win Daytona 500 duels

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Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013 9:00 pm

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — There are two certainties heading into the Daytona 500: Kevin Harvick is the favorite, and no one is sure what the action will look like in the "Great American Race."

Harvick remained perfect through Speedweeks on Thursday by winning the first of two 150-mile Budweiser Duel qualifying races, and the victory has positioned him as the top pick to win NASCAR's version of the Super Bowl.

Being labeled the favorite is the last thing the 2007 Daytona 500 winner wanted headed into Sunday's season-opener.

"We like to be the lame-duck underdog. That's what we're shooting for," Harvick said.

Harvick is a perfect 2 for 2 at Daytona International Speedway. He also won an exhibition race last weekend. This strong start comes at a time when Harvick has found a balance in his life with the addition of son, Keelan, who was born last July, and as he heads into his final season with Richard Childress Racing. Harvick has already decided to move to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.

"We've been fortunate to win the first two races of Speedweeks. We've just got to keep a level head on our shoulders, not get too high over what we've done, just do the same things that we've done," he said. "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be. I think we definitely have the car and team to be in contention to do that."

But nobody is quite sure what the 500 will look like with NASCAR's new Gen-6 race car. Sunday's race will go off with a full 43-car field, double the amount of cars that ran in Thursday's qualifying races. There were 19 cars in last Saturday's exhibition.

Kyle Busch, winner of the second duel, believes more cars on the track will create a much different race than what fans have seen so far. All three races at Speedweeks to date have lacked much action as drivers continue to learn the new cars and how it reacts in traffic and different aerodynamic situations.

"With more cars out there, we might see it be a little bit different come Sunday," Busch said. "There were half the field in each race, obviously. There's going to be twice as many good cars, twice as many middle of the pack cars, twice as many back of the pack cars. If you can get your car handling, driving, feeling good, you'll be able to be one of the guys that's up front."

Is Busch, who was wrecked out of last week's exhibition just 15 laps into the race, one of those guys?

"I feel that's where we're at," Busch said. "That's an added bonus for us right now."

Busch gave Toyota its first victory of Speedweeks and snapped Chevrolet's dominance. Harvick took the new Chevrolet SS to Victory Lane twice, and Danica Patrick put it on the Daytona 500 pole in time trials.

Busch held off Kasey Kahne, in a Chevrolet, and learned the driver out front is in the strongest position.

"It's hard to pass the leader," said Busch. "Stay out front. When you get out front, you can hold everyone off."

But Kahne, who settled for second, said timing will be critical and nobody is sure just yet what move will be needed to win the Daytona 500.

"I think it's tough because you don't know when you get that push. You don't know when it plays into your time," said Kahne, who never got close enough to Busch to take a solid shot at the win. "I think you need to be ready at any time to get to the front, to second, to third, try to move up. I don't think waiting till the last lap is a ticket the way things are right now."

And Kahne wasn't ready to give Harvick the win in the big race, either.

"I think Kevin looks really good," he said. "He's got this place figured out. I think he can be beat, yeah. There's a few of us in the second race who had really good cars, and I could move around really well, similar to what Harvick did in the first race."

In the first race, Harvick held off Greg Biffle over a four-lap sprint to win. Harvick and Biffle also went 1-2 in last Saturday night's exhibition race.

The starting field for the Daytona 500 is set by the results from the pair of 60-lap qualifiers, but Patrick held onto the pole by running a safe race in the first qualifier. The first woman to win a pole at NASCAR's top level, Patrick earned the top starting spot in time trials last weekend.

She started first in the first qualifier, raced a bit early, then faded back to run a conservative race and ensure she'll start first in the 500.

"I hate coming to the end like that and just lagging back," she said. "That's not fun. But it's also really ignorant to go drive up into the pack and be part of an accident for absolutely no reason. You're really not going to learn much there."

Patrick wound up 17th out of 23 cars.

"What I really feel like I need to do is go down to the Harvick bus and see what he's doing," she said. "He's got it going on down here."

The first race was dull until Denny Hamlin brought out the only caution with seven laps remaining. Hamlin lost control of his car, spun into Carl Edwards and triggered a four-car accident that also collected Regan Smith and Trevor Bayne, who had a dominant car early in the qualifier.

"I know what the wrecks look like now, I am really familiar with them," said Edwards, who was wrecked at testing in January and in practice for the exhibition race last week. He was also black-flagged in the exhibition race when his window net fell off.

Hamlin said the accident was a product of drivers trying to learn the nuances of NASCAR's new Gen-6 car.

"It just shows you that any kind of bad aero position you put yourself in, your car can be vulnerable," said Hamlin, who was running in the high line when he inched into Edwards' space down low.

Juan Pablo Montoya, who infamously crashed into a jet dryer during last year's Daytona 500 to trigger a massive fuel fire, stopped for minor repairs during the caution. Montoya restarted the race in 13th with four laps remaining, but rocketed through the field to finish third.

"It was time to go," he said. "It's hard, you don't want to tear up the car, and at the same time you want to go. The bumpers are a little fragile. You have to be careful with that. You want to have a good car at the end."

The bulk of both races seemed to be one long parade of the Gen-6 race car. Unsure of how the cars handle in packs, and when the drivers choose to side-draft, most of the field in the first race played it conservatively.

"The choice was obviously made by a bunch of us to run around in circles and just make laps," said two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip, who needed a clean race to guarantee a spot in Sunday's field. "There were a lot of people that just wanted to get through some laps and understand what was going on. There were some of us that would have run like that until they threw the checkered just to make the race. And then there were some that decided it was time to go, and they made it work."

Waltrip is racing in a special Sandy Hook Special Support Fund paint scheme, and his car number has been changed to No. 26 as a tribute to the 26 students and teachers killed in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.

"There's a lot of people up in Connecticut with a smile on their face right now. I'm real proud to get in the race for them," Waltrip said.

Austin Dillon, grandson of team owner Richard Childress, finished third in the second qualifying race to put his Richard Childress Racing car in the Daytona 500. It will be the 22-year-old Dillon's first Daytona 500.

"I'm glad my grandfather can sleep now," Dillon said. "He was wearing me out before the race."

Brian Keselowski, older brother of reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski, was the one driver who truly had to race his way into the Daytona 500 in the first qualifier. But he lacked speed early, fell two laps down and missed the race.

Mike Bliss was the driver from the second qualifier trying to make the Daytona 500 field, but finished five laps down and didn't make the race.

-- Jenna Fryer

Patrick hangs on to Daytona pole after safe run

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — All Danica Patrick needed to do was keep her car intact.

She didn't exactly follow her team owner's advice — start and then park after two laps, he joked — but she certainly saved an all-out push for Sunday's Daytona 500.

Patrick started on the pole for the first 150-mile Budweiser Duel before she coasted and finished 17th out of 23 cars. She'll keep the top spot for Sunday's Daytona 500.

She led the field to green, then quietly faded to the back, never giving herself a chance to race for the win.

"I suppose there's a sense of relief" she kept the pole, Patrick said. "But at the same point in time, I'm a race car driver, and it's not fun to have to protect and be careful and be cautious and drop back at times."

Patrick was nowhere near the four-lap sprint to the finish that saw Kevin Harvick hold off Greg Biffle for the win.

Patrick became the first woman in history to win a pole in NASCAR's Sprint Cup series. Team owner Gene Haas even suggested — perhaps, jokingly — that Patrick call it a day after a couple of laps.

Not a chance.

"We really just wanted to run probably 10 or 15 laps and be in the pack, be in front," crew chief Tony Gibson said. "Once we got into a stalemate, we fell back, the inside line wasn't moving and it was just time to get out."

No driver has won the Daytona 500 from the pole since Dale Jarrett in 2000.

She can't rest easy yet, not with Cup practices Friday and Saturday, where any wreck could send her to the back of the field. But she passed the first major of Speedweeks since she thrust herself and NASCAR into the national spotlight with a history-making run at the pole for "The Great American Race."

"My nerves will be calmed down a little bit Saturday afternoon when practice is over and our car's in one piece," Gibson said.

Her debrief was, well, brief. Her No. 10 Chevrolet had a tachometer issue and she enjoyed taking the outside lane.

Other than those tidbits, Patrick had little analysis for her mundane performance.

"I hate coming to the end like that and just lagging back," she said. "That's not fun, but it's also really ignorant to go drive up into the pack and be part of an accident for absolutely no reason. You're really not going to learn much there."

Patrick knows all about how miserable it can be driving in the back of the field, with no serious chance for the checkered flag. Her average start was 36th and her average finish was 28th in her 10 Cup races last season. She got caught in a crash on just the second lap of her Daytona 500 debut last season and finished 38th.

Patrick has struggled in three NASCAR seasons and has never finished better than 17th. She made the fulltime jump to the top series this season.

Her chance to show what she could do racing up front from the start never got going.

"It's not fun racing like that, I know it's not a lot of fun for her," Gibson said. "Our car's in one piece for now."

Patrick is the fresh face of NASCAR heading into the series' season-opener. She signed autographs without slowing a step as she whisked through the fan zone on her way to the hauler. Patrick fans camped out on seats atop the garage and yelled, "Danica, we love you!" as she went to the hauler.

She's handled the pressure of the pole with the same ease she handled the No. 10. Patrick said Thursday's run was comparable to a test session.

If she keeps the top spot until Sunday, all she'll need to do is pick where she'll race, not when to drop back

"Do I have to start on the inside on Sunday? I'm not really sure," she said. "Where does the pole start? The outside looked pretty nice."

-- Dan Gelston

NASCAR-Sprint Cup-Daytona 500 lineup

After Thursday's Duel races; race Sunday

At Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Fla.

Lap length: 2.5 miles

(Car number in parentheses)

1. (10) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 196.434 mph.

2. (24) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 196.292.

3. (29) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 194.742.

4. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 195.767.

5. (16) Greg Biffle, Ford, 194.729.

6. (5) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 195.852.

7. (42) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 195.508.

8. (33) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 195.385.

9. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 195.084.

10. (15) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 195.228.

11. (78) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 193.657.

12. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 195.725.

13. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 195.925.

14. (55) Mark Martin, Toyota, 194.683.

15. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 194.961.

16. (27) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 195.503.

17. (13) Casey Mears, Ford, 195.495.

18. (31) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 195.156.

19. (88) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 195.584.

20. (1) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 195.042.

21. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 195.767.

22. (34) David Ragan, Ford, 194.616.

23. (47) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 192.563.

24. (9) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 194.793.

25. (38) David Gilliland, Ford, 194.654.

26. (43) Aric Almirola, Ford, 194.742.

27. (87) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, 190.046.

28. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 195.537.

29. (26) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 194.313.

30. (7) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, 192.996.

31. (95) Scott Speed, Ford, 193.54.

32. (35) Josh Wise, Ford, 194.254.

33. (21) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 195.976.

34. (39) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 195.946.

35. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 195.771.

36. (99) Carl Edwards, Ford, 195.24.

37. (56) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 195.207.

38. (98) Michael McDowell, Ford, 193.544.

39. (32) Terry Labonte, Ford, 193.515.

40. (51) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 193.096.

41. (36) J.J. Yeley, Chevrolet, 192.094.

42. (83) David Reutimann, Toyota, 190.339.

43. (93) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 190.142.

Failed to Qualify

44. (52) Brian Keselowski, Toyota, 183.876.

45. (19) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 189.438.

-- The Associated Press

NASCAR Sprint Cup-Budweiser Duel 1 results


At Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Fla.

Lap length: 2.5 miles

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (13) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 60 laps, 116 rating, 0 points, $57,792.

2. (14) Greg Biffle, Ford, 60, 95.9, 0, $42,789.

3. (7) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 60, 65.7, 0, $37,789.

4. (11) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 60, 82.2, 0, $32,789.

5. (17) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 60, 80.4, 0, $30,789.

6. (3) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 60, 75.3, 0, $28,389.

7. (12) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 60, 79, 0, $27,289.

8. (8) Casey Mears, Ford, 60, 91.2, 0, $26,289.

9. (6) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 60, 72.9, 0, $26,264.

10. (5) Joey Logano, Ford, 60, 87.2, 0, $26,239.

11. (20) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 60, 62.6, 0, $26,214.

12. (15) David Gilliland, Ford, 60, 38.1, 0, $26,189.

13. (22) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, 60, 46, 0, $26,164.

14. (16) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 60, 69, 0, $26,139.

15. (18) Scott Speed, Ford, 60, 52.3, 0, $26,114.

16. (21) David Reutimann, Toyota, 60, 39.2, 0, $26,089.

17. (1) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 60, 50.4, 0, $26,064.

18. (19) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 60, 48.7, 0, $26,014.

19. (10) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 60, 80, 0, $25,989.

20. (4) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 59, 72.7, 0, $25,964.

21. (23) Brian Keselowski, Toyota, 58, 25, 0, $25,914.

22. (9) Carl Edwards, Ford, accident, 52, 62.4, 0, $25,889.

23. (2) Trevor Bayne, Ford, accident, 52, 106.2, 0, $25,839.

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 177.282 mph.

Time of Race: 0 hours, 50 minutes, 46 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 0.165 seconds.

Caution Flags: 1 for 3 laps.

Lead Changes: 4 among 2 drivers.

Lap Leaders: T.Bayne 1-36; K.Harvick 37-40; T.Bayne 41; K.Harvick 42-60.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): T.Bayne, 2 times for 37 laps; K.Harvick, 2 times for 23 laps.

NASCAR Sprint Cup-Budweiser Duel 2 results


At Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Fla.

Lap length: 2.5 miles

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (4) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 60 laps, 121.1 rating, 0 points, $58,977.

2. (3) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 60, 120.4, 0, $43,963.

3. (8) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 60, 111.3, 0, $38,963.

4. (9) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 60, 92, 0, $33,963.

5. (5) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 60, 96.3, 0, $31,963.

6. (14) Mark Martin, Toyota, 60, 88.7, 0, $29,563.

7. (7) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 60, 98.2, 0, $28,463.

8. (10) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 60, 85.7, 0, $27,463.

9. (11) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 60, 68.5, 0, $27,438.

10. (15) David Ragan, Ford, 60, 68.8, 0, $27,413.

11. (12) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 60, 69.1, 0, $27,388.

12. (1) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 60, 102.2, 0, $27,363.

13. (13) Aric Almirola, Ford, 60, 49.4, 0, $27,338.

14. (6) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 59, 60.3, 0, $27,313.

15. (19) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, 59, 41.7, 0, $27,288.

16. (16) Josh Wise, Ford, 59, 39.6, 0, $27,263.

17. (21) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 59, 45.3, 0, $27,238.

18. (18) Terry Labonte, Ford, 59, 50.9, 0, $27,188.

19. (17) Michael McDowell, Ford, 59, 32.5, 0, $27,163.

20. (20) J.J. Yeley, Chevrolet, 59, 27.4, 0, $27,138.

21. (2) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 58, 38.8, 0, $27,088.

22. (22) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 55, 26.9, 0, $27,063.

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 193.966 mph.

Time of Race: 0 hours, 46 minutes, 24 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 0.093 seconds.

Caution Flags: 0 for 0 laps.

Lead Changes: 6 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders: R.Newman 1; J.Gordon 2-39; M.Ambrose 40; K.Busch 41-51; C.Bowyer 52; K.Busch 53-60.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): J.Gordon, 1 time for 38 laps; K.Busch, 2 times for 19 laps; C.Bowyer, 1 time for 1 lap; M.Ambrose, 1 time for 1 lap; R.Newman, 1 time for 1 lap.

-- The Associated Press

Daytona's twin qualifying races move to prime time

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The twin qualifying races for the Daytona 500 are moving to prime time.

The 150-mile qualifiers, called the Budweiser Duel races and historically run in daylight, will be held under the lights beginning in 2014.

The races are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 20, and will be televised by FOX Sports.

Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III says moving the races will "add another dimension" to Speedweeks.

He adds that "to earn a coveted starting spot in the Daytona 500, the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will have to perform under the lights and in front of a prime-time audience."

Speedweeks will have four prime-time races next season: the exhibition Sprint Unlimited, the twin qualifiers and the Truck Series opener.

© 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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