Dale Earnhardt Jr. Claims Budweiser Duel No. 1

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Claims Budweiser Duel No. 1

by February 19, 2015 0 comments

Photo credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Defending Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. claimed his fourth career victory in a Budweiser Duel on Thursday night, claiming victory in the first of two duels of the night.

Starting from the back and facing long shot odds of potentially missing the Daytona 500, Earnhardt Jr. powered his way through the 25-driver grid to lead 21 laps and ultimately grab the victory.

“We knew the car was really fast when we got on track Sunday with the car,” Earnhardt Jr. said “I’ve had cars that have been real fast in the single-car runs and not draft well and then I’ve had cars that were real slow by themselves and then [they] drafted awesome.

“This car seems to be quick no matter what situation it’s in; it finishes a lot of moves and it [did] a couple of things that kind of surprised me out in the race.

“I felt like the car made the job a lot easier. Greg [Ives, crew chief] and those guys should be real proud of the effort and the work that they did in the offseason to bring such a good race car here.”

Getting to victory lane certainly was not easy for the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Insurance Chevrolet as he had to hold off late charges by Hendrick Motorsports teammate and Joey Logano for the win.

Coming across the finish line behind Earnhardt Jr., Gordon, and Logano were Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray, Landon Cassill, and Cole Whitt.

The toughest competition for the No. 88 team throughout the night came from Sprint Unlimited winner Matt Kenseth, who led the most laps of the night (32) but ultimately wound up being shuffled back through the field to a final finishing position of 17th.

Three caution flags flew during the course of the 60-lap event.

Casey Mears brought out the first caution of the night on Lap 17 when his Earnhardt Childress Racing powerplant went up in smoke.

Two accidents brought out the second and third cautions of the race, the first being for an accident between Johnny Sauter and A.J. Allmendinger on the frontstretch that put both cars out of the race on Lap 27 and the second coming out on Lap 51 for the No. 6 Ford of Trevor Bayne going into the Turn 2 wall after contact with Kyle Larson.

Racing their way into the Daytona 500 by virtue of their finishing position in the first Budweiser Duel of the night were Cassill, Whitt,  Ty Dillon, Michael Annett, J.J. Yeley, and Michael McDowell.

Packing up and heading out of Daytona early after missing a Daytona 500 starting position with their Duel finish are Ron Hornaday Jr. and Justin Marks.

Top-10 Finishers of Budweiser Duel No. 1

  1. 88 – Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports
  2. 24 – Jeff Gordon – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports
  3. 22 – Joey Logano – Ford – Team Penske
  4. 14 – Tony Stewart – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing
  5. 15 – Clint Bowyer – Toyota – Michael Waltrip Racing
  6. 4 – Kevin Harvick – Chevrolet – Stewart-Haas Racing
  7. 5 – Kasey Kahne – Chevrolet – Hendrick Motorsports
  8. 1 – Jamie McMurray – Chevrolet – Chip Ganassi Racing
  9. 40 – Landon Cassill – Chevrolet – Hillman Smith Motorsports
  10. 35 – Cole Whitt – Ford – Front Row Motorsports
Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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