Keselowski, Buescher sweep Duels for RFK as Daytona 500 grid set

Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher took both wins for the newly-renamed RFK Racing outfit in the Daytona 500 duels, as non-charter entries Kaz Grala and Greg Biffle secured starting slots.

Keselowski, Buescher sweep Duels for RFK as Daytona 500 grid set

Keselowski left Team Penske to become an owner-driver for the former Roush Fenway Racing team over the off-season, and got off to a winning start by passing former team-mate Ryan Blaney with four tours of the 60-lap race to go. 

The 2012 Cup champion then held off his replacement in the #2 Penske Ford, Austin Cindric, to win the first of Thursday night's two grid-setting qualifying races.

Blaney finished third, ahead of Chase Briscoe (Stewart-Haas Ford) and Chase Elliott (Hendrick Chevrolet), while Daytona 500 poleman Kyle Larson finished seventh.

The victory means Keselowski will take third starting position in Sunday’s 500, behind reigning Cup champion Larson and his Hendrick Chevrolet team-mate Alex Bowman after they secured front row spots in qualifying on Wednesday.

“I felt pretty good about our car,” said Keselowski, who has never won the Daytona 500.

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“I give credit to the other Fords – Ryan Blaney, Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric – we had great strategy. We stuck together and drove away and put ourselves in position to control this race.

“It was great to see all those Fords up front. Good job to all those guys. This is special.”

Driving a Chevrolet for boxer Floyd Mayweather's The Money Team Racing team, Kaz Grala edged J.J. Yeley on the final lap to become the highest-finishing non-charter team and earn a starting position in Sunday’s 500. 

Kaz Grala, TMT Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Pit Viper Sunglasses

Kaz Grala, TMT Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Pit Viper Sunglasses

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

The 23-year-old had to start the rear of the qualifying race due to unapproved adjustments, and also had to recover from a pass-through penalty after he was penalised for speeding on pit road. 

Noah Gragson, who had already clinched a starting spot in the Daytona 500 based on qualifying speed, elected to fall to the back to avoid any chance of getting in a wreck.

The second Duel race was won by Keselowski's team-mate Buescher, who will start alongside his team co-owner on the second row of the 500 after a final lap wreck battling for position with Joey Logano.

Buescher, getting a push from 2021 Daytona winner Michael McDowell, dove below Logano's Penske Ford entering the back straight trying for the lead on the last of 60 laps. Logano moved down to block Buscher’s move, but was spun into the wall to bring out a caution.

Buescher was ahead at the time of the caution and was declared the winner, ahead of McDowell (Front Row Motorsports Ford) and rookie Harrison Burton's Wood Brothers Ford third.

Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team-mates Kyle Busch and Christopher Bell completed the top five, while 13th was good enough for Biffle to make his first Cup start since the end of his full-time NASCAR career in 2016 with the NY Racing Team Chevrolet.

Jacques Villeneuve, who already made the 500 field based on his qualifying speed, pulled into his pit stall before the race started with an issue under the bonnet. He was able to join the field before the race went green.

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