DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2009)
– Exciting finishes abounded as
Gordon secured a third-place starting position for Sunday’s 51st annual Daytona 500 by winning the first duel, while Busch will roll off fourth. The win marks Gordon’s first trip to Gatorade Victory Lane in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since October 2007.
“I have not seen two better races than last Saturday night [in the Budweiser Shootout] and today’s race in a long time here at Daytona,” said the three-time Daytona 500 champion. “I can’t wait until Sunday.”
After staying in the Top 3 through much of the race, Stewart snaked his No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet through the field to take the lead with three laps to go. Gordon and Stewart battled back and forth, with Stewart settling for the same second-place finish he netted in last weekend’s Budweiser Shootout.
“We [both] just kept getting so far ahead that we were getting runs on each other,” Stewart said. “
Busch took the lead from Martin on Lap 56, and Brian Vickers used the nose of his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota to assist Martin in getting a run on Busch going into Turn 3 on the white-flag lap. Busch was able to block Martin in Turn 4, and Martin won the drag race against Vickers to the checkered flag.
“Once I saw Mark coming, I knew he had a fast race car too,” Busch said. “They probably had the car to beat and win this race, but we made the right moves. With Mark going to the high-side through [Turns] 3 and 4, my spotter just drove me up there and blocked him a little bit and then drove me down and blocked Brian Vickers there.
“It’s the Gatorade Duels; if it was for the [Daytona] 500 we probably would have been nosed up in the fence or something. I’m glad we got away with it now. It was a great race for us.”
In the second duel, defending Daytona 500 champion Ryan Newman had his No. 39 Stewart-Haas Chevrolet spun around on the superstrech on Lap 49 and will go to a back-up car on Sunday.
The two Gatorade Duels at Daytona Qualifying Races are each 150-mile, 60-lap races that determine the starting positions for the richest and most prestigious race on the NASCAR circuit–the Daytona 500. Martin Truex,
Drivers who raced their way into “The Great American Race” include Stewart, Scott Riggs,
Drivers that did not make the 43-car field for the NASCAR season-opener include:
Tickets for DIRECTV Speedweeks 2009 and the 51st annual Daytona 500 are available online at
or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.