DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kevin Harvick made his No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet as wide as he could in the final laps, holding off repeated challenges for the lead on his way to victory Saturday night in The Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway.
On the last lap, Harvick blocked both Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart to win his third career Sprint Unlimited, NASCAR’s fan-favorite non-points event that featured the debut of the Gen-6 race car. Harvick’s previous Sprint Unlimited wins came in 2009 and 2010.
“Any time you’re in Victory Lane here in Daytona, it’s a great day,” Harvick said. “When you’re coming from white (flag) to checkered, it’s whatever you have to do to make it happen. It was a great day for our Budweiser Chevy and I’m glad we got Speedweeks started off the right way.”
Tony Stewart captured the event’s first 30-lap segment, while Harvick won the second 25-lap segment and the final 20-lap dash. Overall, Harvick led 40 of the 75 laps.
“I was nervous about the 20 (Matt Kenseth) and the 14 (Stewart). I thought their cars were a little bit better than what we had,” Harvick said. “I felt (Kenseth) had the strongest car and he could make a lot happen on the bottom by himself. So, I was glad to see him get shuffled back there.”
Biffle and Joey Logano rounded out the top three while Stewart finished fourth.
“That is why I haven’t won a Daytona 500 yet,” Stewart said of the last lap. “I’m not quite sure exactly which move to make. We learned a lot. The good thing is we have 500 miles to get it done (next) weekend. This thing was fast today.”
The format for selecting The Sprint Unlimited field of drivers returned to its roots in 2013. The eligible field of drivers consisted of pole winners from the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and past winners of The Sprint Unlimited who have attempted to qualify for at least one race during the 2012 season.
In addition, race fans had the final voice in selecting the starting lineup, choosing from three different options. Fans in attendance on Saturday night voted that the 19-car field would line up in the order in which drivers won their first pole last season.
Also, fans in attendance were eligible to receive special upgraded race experiences including roles as Grand Marshal, Honorary Starter, and trophy presenter. Fans delivered the trophy to Gatorade Victory Lane and participated in driver introductions.
Race fans shaped the race by voting on race elements such as length of each race segment, type of team pit stop after first segment, how many cars would be eliminated after the second segment and the type of fire suit Miss Sprint Cup would wear.
Race activity picks up Sunday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. with Daytona 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger.
Tickets for all Budweiser Speedweeks events are available online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.