Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin victorious in inaugural nighttime running of the 150-mile qualifying races
Joe Gibbs Racing swept the inaugural nighttime running of the Budweiser Duel At Daytona with Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin finishing atop the scoring pylon in their respective 150-mile qualifying races on Thursday night at Daytona International Speedway.
Kenseth, who led a race-high 31 laps in the first qualifying race, was the victor in a three-wide finish at the checkered flag, edging out Kevin Harvick by .022 seconds with Kasey Kahne a close third. It was later announced that Harvick’s No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet failed post-race inspection nullifying his finish in the race.
Hamlin has dominated Budweiser Speedweeks thus far, winning The Sprint Unlimited last Saturday night and leading 23 of the 60 laps on the way to his win in the second Budweiser Duel. Hamlin was followed across the finish line by three-time DAYTONA 500 champion Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch.
“We just need to keep doing what we’re doing,” said Hamlin who picked up his fifth career win at the “World Center of Racing”.
“We’re on a roll and once that snowball starts to roll, it’s hard to stop it. Right now we’re just on a heck of a run.
As Hamlin prepared to take the checkered flag, defending DAYTONA 500 and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson ran out of fuel entering the tri-oval, resulting in a nine-car accident.
Among the bubble drivers that secured starting spots in “The Great American Race” on Sunday include Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates Cole Whitt and Alex Bowman, Landon Cassill, Josh Wise and Brian Scott.
Failing to qualify for Sunday’s 56th annual Daytona 500 were Ryan Truex Jr., Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek, Morgan Shepherd, Eric McClure and Dave Blaney.