Richard Childress Racing
Budweiser Duels: Kevin Harvick wins first qualifying race, a favorite to win Daytona 500
February 21, 2013
Author: Jeff Owens
Date: Feb. 21, 2013
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kevin Harvick served notice last Saturday that he was a big threat to win the Daytona 500.
It was no fluke.
After winning the first Budweiser Duel on Thursday, Harvick is for real and a serious contender to win a Daytona 500.
Harvick, who won the 2007 Daytona 500, charged to the front of the field midway through the 60-lap qualifying race and took control. He led the final 19 laps (23 in all) for his first win in a Daytona qualifying race—a victory that comes on the heels of his win Saturday in the Sprint Unlimited.
Michael Waltrip and Scott Speed finished 14th and 15th, respectively, in the first of two qualifying races to earn starting spots in the Daytona 500.
Greg Biffle finished second to Harvick, just as he did Saturday in the Sprint Unlimited. Juan Pablo Montoya finished third followed by Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Casey Mears, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Joey Logano.
Rounding out the top 15 were: Bobby Labonte, David Gilliland, Joe Nemechek, Waltrip and Speed. The top 15 earned starting spots in the Daytona 500.
Martin Truex Jr. was black-flagged for a missing side window in his car and wound up finishing 19th. He will have to rely on his qualifying speed or a provisional to make the Daytona 500.
Polesitter Danica Patrick, meanwhile, struggled, fell back early and drifted to the rear of the field, where she lost the draft and rode in the back the rest of the race. Already locked into the pole position for the Daytona 500, she finished 17th.
The race was tame until Lap 52 when Denny Hamlin’s car got loose and he hit Carl Edwards, sending them both for a spin. Trevor Bayne, who led early in the race, and Regan Smith also were involved in the crash.
Harvick held off Biffle on a restart with four laps remaining and held off a wild pack led by Montoya that made a late charge.
None of them could put together a strong enough draft, however, to get by Harvick, who scored his second straight race victory at Daytona.
“I was to his bumper but you’ve got to have some help,” Biffle said. “You’ve got to be in the right place and get a big run and have a couple of cars with you.”
Harvick, who is now two-for-two Speedweeks, stopped short of declaring himself the favorite to win his second Daytona 500.
“You want to win, and we’ve been fortunate to win the first two races,” he said. “We’ve just got to keep a level head and not get too high and what is meant to be is meant to be.
“We’ve definitely got the car to do it.”
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