Busch, Burton Win Duels, Keselowskis Steal the Show

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR
Kurt Busch and Jeff Burton may have been the Gatorade Duel race winners, but J.J. Yeley, Bill Elliott, Brian Keselowski and Michael Waltrip most likely have the biggest smiles after earning a spot in the Daytona 500.

Once again, the two-car draft played the biggest part in both races. In Duel 1, Busch worked with Regan Smith for a majority of the race, facing the biggest challenge from Kevin Harvick who received quite a bit of help from Matt Kenseth. Another duo that put up quite a fight was Kasey Kahne and Juan Pablo Montoya. Smith was right on Busch’s back bumper as the two came to the checkered flag and tried his best to move around Busch’s No. 22 Dodge. However, Busch clung to the double-yellow line and crossed the start/finish line first for his second win of SpeedWeeks.

Busch won the Budweiser Shootout last Saturday night. With his win, Busch will start from the front row of the Daytona 500 after polesitter Dale Earnhardt Jr. drops to the back of the field after switching to a back-up car due to a crash in practice.

“It's the double deuce power right now,” said Busch. “Great ride through these Speedweeks, being in the right place at the right time. To be in those positions, you have to have a good drafting partner. I had that with Regan Smith today, had it with McMurray on Saturday night. You can't be in those positions if you don't build a great racecar.”

The first duel race saw only two cautions, the first of which involved Ryan Newman getting turned around by teammate and owner Tony Stewart. Newman wound up finishing 10th. The other caution was for oil on the track laid down by Michael McDowell after his engine blew.

Elliott and Yeley wound up finishing 15th and 17th, respectively, and were able to race their way into the Daytona 500. Joe Nemechek raced his way in on SPEED. Kevin Conway and Michael McDowell failed to qualify. Dave Blaney raced got in on speed because Michael Waltrip and Travis Kvapil lock themselves into the 500 in the second race.

Yeley was obviously relieved after racing his way in, saying: “It's awesome. This is the first time I've ever had to make the race on my own without being already locked in. The stress that comes along with being a go or go homer, not knowing exactly what's going to happen till you get to the racetrack is tough. We had a lot of help out there. Obviously I wouldn't have made it up here without Marcos Ambrose. It took us a while till we got everything figured out for the swap. But once we got that done, we didn't lose nearly as much time. We got where we needed to be.”

Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
Burton won the Gatorade Duel 2 in a photo finish with Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer. Race 2 saw more action as far as wrecks were concerned, with Waltrip, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Todd Bodine, Denny Hamlin, David Reutimann, Travis Kvapil, Todd Bodine and Steve Wallace all involved in accidents. The biggest crash came on the last lap of the race when, coming to the start/finish line, Trevor Bayne got into Jeff Gordon after David Ragan began spinning in front of them.

Burton had this to say in Victory Lane: “It’s a shame two cars can’t fit in here you know. With the way this thing is going it’s really important to have somebody to work with you. Clint and I decided we were just going to find each other early and it worked out well for both of us. I didn’t know who won but it was a good race.”

Waltrip and Brian Keselowski raced their way into the Daytona 500, with Keselowski getting the shove he needed from his brother Brad. Travis Kvapil made his way into the race on speed, while Derrick Cope, Todd Bodine and Casey Mears failed to qualify.

Brian Keselowski no doubt stole the show in the second race, though, shedding a tear in his racecar after finally making it into the Daytona 500.

“It feels absolutely awesome,” said Keselowski. “Obviously I would not be here without Brad. I think he’s one of the best pushers out there. We struggled just to even really get here. Still putting together the car at the racetrack. Man, we just did not run good at all, all weekend. It still goes to show you that you got a chance no matter what.”

The Daytona 500 will air live on Sunday, February 20th, at 1 p.m. ET on FOX.
Busch, Burton Win Duels, Keselowskis Steal the Show Busch, Burton Win Duels, Keselowskis Steal the Show Reviewed by Summer Dreyer on Thursday, February 17, 2011 Rating: 5