The 2013 Budweiser Duels are two of the more interesting races of the entire NASCAR season, and there is no better way to really get the official race weekend of the Daytona 500 off on the right foot.
Both Danica Patrick (pole winner) and Jeff Gordon (qualified second) raced in the duels, but had their positions locked in for Sunday’s race regardless of finishing positions.
The two 60-lap races determined the No. 3 through No. 32 starting positions for the Great American Race, and the top 15 finishers from each race (30 total) not already qualified for the Daytona 500 will have a chance to start Sunday’s race.
This was the first season where being in the top 35 in the standings in 2012 did not save teams whose qualifying times weren't fast enough.
As seen by Thursday’s results, the Generation 6 cars and the shakeup in the way qualifying is handled have changed the way the duels at Daytona are run.
Budweiser Duel No. 1
Danica Patrick and the No. 10 team led the race to green from the pole position, but quickly fell toward the back of the pack to ensure her ride would make it to the Daytona 500 in one piece.
The racing was clean for the majority of the first duel, but a wreck on Lap 54 involving Carl Edwards, Trevor Bayne and Denny Hamlin marred the action. The warmer track temperatures and new cars were a big factor in the accident
Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 car won the event, building off his victory in the Sprint Unlimited race last weekend and setting the stage for an amazing sweep of the Daytona 500 if he could pull of the win Sunday.
The top five were rounded out by Greg Biffle, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch, who have put themselves and their team in a great position for The Great American Race.
Results (via NASCAR.com)
1. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 - Chevrolet
2. Greg Biffle, No. 16 - Ford
3. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 - Chevrolet
4. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 - Chevrolet
5. Kurt Busch, No. 78 – Chevrolet
6. Tony Stewart, No. 14 - Chevrolet
7. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 - Ford
8. Casey Mears, No. 13 - Ford
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr , No. 88 - Chevrolet
10. Joey Logano, No. 22 - Ford
11. Bobby Labonte, No. 47 - Toyota
12. David Gilliland, No. 38 - Ford
13. Joe Nemechek, No. 87 - Toyota
14. Michael Waltrip, No. 26 - Toyota
15. Scott Speed, No. 95 - Ford
16. David Reutimann, No. 83 - Toyota
17. Danica Patrick, No. 10 - Chevrolet
18. Regan Smith, No. 51 - Chevrolet
19. Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 - Toyota
20. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 - Toyota
21. Brian Keselowski, No. 152 - Toyota
22. Carl Edwards, No. 99 - Ford
23. Trevor Bayne, No. 21 - Ford
Budweiser Duel No. 2
Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 car started on the pole for the second duel, but it was a pass-through penalty that put Gordon out of position for a win. As the second-place qualifier, though, the No. 24 team will still start the Daytona 500 on the outside pole.
Kyle Busch and the No. 18 team stole the show Thursday with a huge win in the second Budweiser Duel.
Duel 2 was much different than the first, with temperatures dropping as the sun began to sag in the sky. The temperature decline means the track begins to handle better, changing the way the car is performing.
With cars handling much better in the second race, there was far less trouble, and the lessons learned in both events can be applied to Sunday no matter what the weather is like.
Busch took the win after leading 19 laps, and the rest of the top five rounded out with Kasey Kahne, Austin Dillon, Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth.
Results (via NASCAR.com)
1. Kyle Busch, No. 18 - Toyota
2. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 - Chevrolet
3. Austin Dillon, No. 33 - Chevrolet
4. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 - Toyota
5. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 - Toyota
6. Mark Martin, No. 55 - Toyota
7. Paul Menard, No. 27 - Chevrolet
8. Jeff Burton, No. 31 - Chevrolet
9. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 - Chevrolet
10. David Ragan, No. 34 - Ford
11. Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 - Ford
12. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 - Chevrolet
13. Aric Almirola, No. 43 - Ford
14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 - Ford
15. Dave Blaney, No. 7 - Chevrolet
16. Josh Wise, No. 35 - Ford
17. Travis Kvapil, No. 93 - Toyota
18. Terry Labonte, No. 32 - Ford
19. Michael McDowell, No. 98 - Ford
20. J.J. Yeley, No. 36 - Chevrolet
21. Ryan Newman, No. 39 - Chevrolet
22. Mike Bliss, No. 19 - Toyota