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NASCAR NEWS 

Johnson grabs first Duel win

Jimmie Johnson beats Kevin Harvick in Duel 1, 2010Jimmie Johnson has claimed a narrow victory over Kevin Harvick in the first Gatorade Duel qualifying race for the Daytona 500.

The reigning champion stayed out during the final caution of the race while the leaders pitted less than ten laps from the end.

Johnson (Hendrick Chevrolet) was then able to hold on to his position at the front despite Budweiser Shootout winner Harvick mounting a late challenge, with help from his Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer.

Johnson, who was driving his back-up car after damaging his primary one during the final Duel practice on Wednesday, managed to just beat Harvick by 0.006 seconds at the finish line, one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history.

Kyle Busch, Bowyer and Regan Smith completed the top five.

Max Papis, like Johnson, also chose to stay out during the final caution, hoping to get one of the transfer spots for Sunday's race. The Germain Toyota driver almost saw his hopes dashed when he got a bad final restart, but a late mistake from Todd Bodine, who brushed the wall on the final lap, allowed the Italian to earn a place in his first Daytona 500.

Ahead of him Michael McDowell was the surprise of the day, also making his way into the main race for Prism Motorsports while Michael Waltrip, who looked set to make the 500, got spun by Regan Smith causing the final caution. The incident also involved Jeff Gordon, who suffered damage at the front of his car.

Daytona 500 polesitter Mark Martin was the leading force in the early going but was not a top contender in the final laps and appeared to deliberately drop out of the pack at the end to preserve his car, his place at the front of the field already being secure.

Pos  Driver                Car        Laps
 1.  Jimmie Johnson        Chevrolet  60
 2.  Kevin Harvick         Chevrolet  60
 3.  Kyle Busch            Toyota     60
 4.  Clint Bowyer          Chevrolet  60
 5.  Regan Smith           Chevrolet  60
 6.  Jamie McMurray        Chevrolet  60
 7.  AJ Allmendinger       Ford       60
 8.  Ryan Newman           Chevrolet  60
 9.  David Ragan           Ford       60
10.  Jeff Gordon           Chevrolet  60
11.  Greg Biffle           Ford       60
12.  Denny Hamlin          Toyota     60
13.  Carl Edwards          Ford       60
14.  Michael McDowell      Toyota     60
15.  Max Papis             Toyota     60
16.  John Andretti         Ford       60
17.  Todd Bodine           Toyota     60
18.  Joe Nemechek          Toyota     60
19.  Travis Kvapil         Ford       60
20.  Terry Cook            Dodge      60
21.  Mark Martin           Chevrolet  60
22.  Bill Elliott          Ford       60
23.  Robert Richardson Jr  Ford       60
24.  Reed Sorenson         Toyota     60
25.  Michael Waltrip       Toyota     52
26.  Jeff Burton           Chevrolet  24
27.  Jeff Fuller           Toyota     4
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