Victory Lane Duels 325 x 160
Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch won the Gatorade Duel At Daytona 150-mile qualifiers.

            DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2009) – Exciting finishes abounded as Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch held off the hard-charging Chevrolets of Tony Stewart and Mark Martin to win their respective Gatorade Duels Thursday at historic Daytona International Speedway.

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. “Jeff would get out and he’d get too far ahead, and we’d get a run on him. We just kept going around and we’d get too far ahead, and Jeff would get the run on us.”

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Mark Martin led the first half of the second Duel, but both Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets had to pit under green with tire issues.

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, Jr. and Daytona Beach-resident Martin secured starting positions on the front row during qualifying last Sunday, with Truex locking up the second pole position of his career at “The World Center of Racing”; his first came in his inaugural start on the high banks of Daytona during the 2004 Nationwide Series Camping World 300.

Truex, Jr. kept his Ganassi–Dale Earnhardt, Inc. Chevrolet at the front of the pack for more than half the race, leading 32 laps before having a tire go down on Lap 50. The No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet did not sustain any damage and will keep its front row-starting position.

Drivers who raced their way into “The Great American Race” include Stewart, Scott Riggs, Jeremy Mayfield and AJ Allmendinger. Bill Elliott, Travis Kvapil and Regan Smith will be able to stand on their qualifying times, and Terry Labonte will take advantage of the champion’s provisional to take the green flag in his 28th Daytona 500.

Drivers that did not make the 43-car field for the NASCAR season-opener include: Joe Nemechek, Boris Said, Brad Keselowski, Kirk Shelmerdine, Mike Wallace, Tony Raines, Mike Garvey, Derrike Cope, Mike Skinner, Kelly Bires, Carl Long, Geoff Bodine and Norm Benning.

Tickets for DIRECTV Speedweeks 2009 and the 51st annual Daytona 500 are available online at or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.


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