Kenseth Wins Duel No. 1, Harvick DQed
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Matt Kenseth defeated Kevin Harvick by .022 of a seconds – about one and a half feet – in a three-wide finish that also included Kasey Kahne in an impressive finish to Thursday night’s first Budweiser Duel 150 qualifying race for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Harvick’s Chevrolet, however, failed post-race technical inspection when NASCAR officials found the track bar exceeded the maximum split (3-inches of adjustment). That means his finishing position from Thursday will be disallowed and he will have to make it into the field through qualification times posted in last Sunday’s time trials or the car owner points that belonged to Ryan Newman last year when he was the driver at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Among the drivers that raced their way into the Daytona 500 field were Josh Wise, Cole Whitt and Alex Bowman. Bowman finished 15th, the final automatic transfer spot into the Daytona 500.
Harvick’s Chevrolet had nudged ahead of Kenseth’s Toyota coming out of the fourth turn but Kenseth went to the outside nearly brushing the SAFER Barrier to make the race-winning pass at the checkered flag.
“I had a strong Toyota Camry and Kevin is one of the best,” Kenseth said. “He made the perfect move but I was able to get him at the line. This is a great way to start off 2014. I’m glad to get the win here tonight. These guys really deserve it.”
Harvick thought he had timed his move perfectly but it may have been too soon.
“I had the momentum and when those guys got to me and were jammed up I had to make the move,” Harvick said. “We tried to side-draft and then we nearly both lost it because I saw the 5 (Kahne) come up alongside.”
Marcos Ambrose was fourth in a Ford followed by Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Bowman, a rookie from Tucson, Ariz., will start his first Daytona 500 on Sunday.
“We went across the start/finish line and I wasn’t sure where I ended up but my crew chief told me we made it,” Bowman said. “This really means a lot and it’s huge for me and my family. We’re in the Daytona 500. It really means a lot.”
All 60 laps in the race were contested under green flag conditions, which meant the one pit stop in the race would be very important.
Many of the front half of the field came down pit road with 23 laps to go. On the next lap Earnhardt smoked his tires getting on the brakes to come down pit road and lead another group of drivers into the pits. Most of the drivers made fuel-only stops and did not change tires and the ones that made four-tire changes had plenty of ground to make up to the lead group of cars.
Earnhardt “flat-spotted” his tires entering pit road but did not change them and that caused some concern about the handling of his car. However, he was up to fifth place with just 10 laps to go and Matt Kenseth in the lead.
Kenseth remained in front with five laps to ahead of Harvick, Kahne, Logano and Marcos Ambrose.