Kurt Busch went two-for-two Thursday, winning the first of two 150-mile Gatorade Duel qualifying race. The Bud Shootout champion will try Sunday to become the first driver to win the Shootout, his qualifying race, and the Daytona 500 in the same Speedweeks. He will have prime starting position in his pursuit of the triple, as his victory means he will inherit the pole position when Dale Earnhardt Jr. drops to the rear of the field during the pace laps.
Jeff Burton visited victory lane for the first time in over two years, winning the second Gatorade Duel.
The highlight of the drivers who managed to race their way into the Daytona 500 is without a doubt Brian Keselowski. The older brother of defending Nationwide Sereis champion Brad Keselowski, Brian showed up with an unsponsored Dodge Charger and little else in his pursuit to make the Great American Race. An assist from his brother led to a late charge through the field that allowed Brian to finish fifth. The second-highest finishing go-or-go-home driver in his race, Keselowski is set to start the Daytona 500.
Bill Elliott and J.J. Yeley took the transfer spots in the first Duel, while Michael Waltrip finished third behind Burton and Clint Bowyer in the second one. As Elliott’s run in the first race had already locked Waltrip in via qualifying speed, Waltrip’s run opened the door for Dave Blaney to qualify for the race based on the speed he set in time trials last Sunday.
The five heartbroken drivers who failed to qualify: Casey Mears, Todd Bodine, Derrike Cope, Kevin Conway, and Michael McDowell.