Matt Kenseth snatches victory in second Gatorade Duel at Daytona
|By Diego Mejia||Thursday, February 23rd 2012, 22:03 GMT|
Matt Kenseth grabbed victory in the second of the Gatorade Duel qualifying races at Daytona with a final-lap move on his Roush Fenway team-mate Greg Biffle.
Kenseth won a caution-free second duel, where only a few drivers had a fighting chance at the end of the race as the pack split into small groups; a result of drivers electing to pit for fuel under green at different times.
Biffle led a group of cars that left it as late as possible to take two tyres and fuel, emerging up front after the stops cycled through and narrowed the number of victory contenders down to only five cars. Kenseth hooked up with Jimmie Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet with two laps to go and passed Biffle with an aggressive move just before the white flag waved.
"Jimmie Johnson gave me a huge push there and really worked nice for me the whole race," said Kenseth after handing team owner Jack Roush his first duel victory in the year in which his team celebrates its 25th anniversary.
"Without that push it never would've got there. Greg lost his drafting partner. We were able to separate him and the #78 [Regan Smith] and we had such a big run that Greg was kind of a sitting duck."
Smith finished second for Front Row Motorsports, giving up any victory hopes on the last lap when he made contact with Johnson on the backstretch, losing momentum and allowing Kenseth to pull away. Five-time Cup champion Johnson was third ahead of Richard Childress Racing's Elliott Sadler, while Biffle got shuffled down to fifth after leading 39 out of the 60 scheduled laps.
Dave Blaney finished 12th and took the first transfer spot for the Daytona 500, while Joe Nemechek claimed the final one despite finishing a lap down.
Michael Waltrip, Mike and Kenny Wallace, Bill Elliott, Robert Richardson Jr and JJ Yeley all failed to make the field.
Kenseth's victory means three Roush Fords will start on the front two rows of Sunday's Daytona 500.
Results - 60 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford 46m21.000s 2. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet + 0.209s 3. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet + 0.475s 4. Elliott Sadler Childress Chevrolet + 0.531s 5. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford + 1.949s 6. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota + 9.363s 7. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota + 9.494s 8. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet + 9.623s 9. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 20.532s 10. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet + 20.647s 11. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota + 20.852s 12. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet + 21.151s 13. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota + 30.448s 14. Kurt Busch Phoenix Chevrolet + 1 lap 15. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota + 1 lap 16. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota + 1 lap 17. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota + 1 lap 18. Casey Mears Germain Ford + 1 lap 19. Robert Richardson Jr R3 Toyota + 2 laps 20. Bill Elliott NEMCO Toyota + 2 laps 21. Kenny Wallace RAB Toyota + 3 laps Non-finishers: Tony Raines Front Row Ford 9 laps David Reutimann BK Toyota 6 laps JJ Yeley Robinson-Blakeney Toyota 4 laps