To say that the Gatorade Duel races were exciting would be an understatement.
Everyone knew the first Duel would affect the second one, but I would be willing to bet that no one knew the finishes would almost exactly emulate one another.
But what is more important, at least in terms of Richard Petty Motorsports and Kasey Kahne is that the entire organization got a huge confidence boost after the Duels.
Kahne had a strong car for the majority of the second Duel. He started about mid-pack, but was able to find drafting partners, mostly the Miller Lite Dodge of Kurt Busch, and was able to hang around the top-fove or top-10 for the majority of the race.
At the end of the race, Kahne got the boost he needed to get out in the front of the pack and was able to hold off Tony Stewart’s Office Depot Chevy, but only just by the front end of Kahne’s Budweiser Ford.
This was Kahne’s first victory at Daytona on any level of racing.
Kahne’s RPM teammate, Elliot Sadler in his No. 19 Stanley Tools Ford finished a very solid fifth. He was basically unmentioned the entire race, but was able to sneak in there with a quietly strong car.
Another RPM car, A.J. Allmendinger, was one of the big surprises of the first Duel. The number No. 43 car was running second for a while, but had that miscue in the pits where Allmendinger missed his pit stall by more than a little bit.
Missing his pit box cost him some serious track position, but he was still able to wrestle back for a seventh place finish.
Just about the only RPM car that did not have a good run during the Duels was Paul Menard in the 98 car. He finished in 15th in Duel No. 2.
With the results of the Duels in this puts RPM cars in the following line-up spots for Daytona: Kahne 4th, Sadler 12th, Allmendinger 15th, and Menard 32nd.
So what does this mean for RPM thus far in 2010? Well, it looks like they are trying desperately, and succeeding, in putting all the troubles of 2009 behind them. Kahne is proving to be the flagship of the group, but Sadler and Allmendinger’s cars are showing that their teams are on the up and up within the dynamics of the team.
Kahne looks to be a big factor in the Daytona 500, especially starting the race from the second row. With Sadler and Allmendinger not far behind, I wouldn’t be surprised to see these three RPM cars running nose to tail at some point or another.
Kahne’s win, along with Sadler and Allmendinger’s strong runs seem to be sending a message to the rest of the teams in the Sprint Cup Series.
“We are for real."