Waltrip wins Duel One

Michael Waltrip dived past team-mate Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the last corner of Thursday's first Gatorade Duel qualifying race to grab victory at Daytona International Speedway.

Waltrip wins Duel One

Thursday's Duels, which used to be known as the Twin 125s, set the starting lineup for Sunday's Daytona 500, NASCAR's season-opener - although Waltrip's victory was only good enough for third place on the grid because Dale Jarrett had already locked in his pole position after qualifying - even though he finished 21st.

Jeff Gordon took the lead from Jarrett on the second lap and led to the green-flag pit stops on Lap 30 (of 60), when Waltrip moved to the front and stayed there until caution stops on lap 44. Johnny Sauter then took a gamble and changed two tyres to grab the lead before Mike Skinner moved to the front on lap 51.

Skinner stayed at the front, ahead of Ryan Newman, Earnhardt, Casey Mears and Waltrip - before Waltrip and Earnhardt teamed up to draft by Skinner coming into the final lap. Waltrip then carried on past Earnhardt to win by a few metres.

"We got a lot of help from Michael," said Earnhardt. "He pushed me out into the lead. On the last corner of the last lap, I wasn't even about to throw a block on him in a qualifying race."

The new procedures this year, with the top 35 cars in the 2004 points table guaranteed positions, means only two drivers from each heat will qualify for the Daytona 500. Those two were Mike Skinner, who led to the last lap and finished third, and Kenny Wallace, who passed Kerry Earnhardt on the last lap for the other transfer spot.

The final four positions in the 500 field will come from among those with the best remaining qualifying speeds from Sunday. That put No. 12 finisher Jason Leffer and No. 16 Mke Wallace into the field. Kerry Earnhardt, who finished 11th, would need certain things to happen in the second heat in order to use his speed.



Michael Waltrip, No. 15 NAPA Chevrolet, 60 laps
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet, 60, -0.030sec
Mike Skinner, No. 23 Dodge, 60
Ryan Newman, No. 12 ALLTEL Dodge, 60
Ricky Rudd, No. 21 Motorcraft Ford, 60
Kurt Busch, No. 97 Sharpie/Irwin Ford, 60
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet, 60
Jamie McMurray, No. 42 Havoline Dodge, 60
Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's Chevrolet, 60
Kenny Wallace, No. 00 Aaron's Chevrolet, 60
Kerry Earnhardt, No. 33 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, 60
Jason Leffler, No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet, 60
Greg Biffle, No. 16 National Guard Ford, 60
Travis Kvapil, No. 77 Kodak/Jasper Dodge, 60
Carl Edwards, No. 99 Scott's Ford, 60
Mike Wallace, No. 4 Lucas Oil Chevrolet, 60
Casey Mears, No. 41 Target Dodge, 60
Stanton Barrett, No. 92 First Trust Chevrolet, 60
Ken Schrader, No. 49 Schwan's Dodge, 60
Kyle Petty, No. 45 Georgia-Pacific Dodge, 60
Dale Jarrett, No. 88 UPS Ford, 60
Mike Bliss, No. 0 NetZero Chevrolet, 60
Johnny Sauter, No. 09 Miccosukee Dodge, 54, engine
Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, 52, crash
Hermie Sadler, No. 66 Peak Fitness Ford, 46, crash
Elliott Sadler, No. 38 M&Ms Ford, 45, transmission
Randy LaJoie, No. 34 Chevrolet, 41, engine
Morgan Shepherd, No. 89 Victory in Jesus Dodge, 3, crash

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