When all was said and done in the second Gatorade Duel race Thursday afternoon (Feb. 23), it was Matt Kenseth sitting in victory lane, giving Roush Fenway Racing its first Duel win in 25 years in the sport. Thanks to a big push from Jimmie Johnson, Kenseth pulled off a classic crossver move on teammate Greg Biffle, who led a race-high 40 laps and took the checkered flag over Regan Smith. Johnson, Elliott Sadler and Biffle rounded out the top five.
“We just had a big run there. Jimmie Johnson gave me a huge push there and that really worked nice for me the whole race. Without that push it would have never gotten done,” Kenseth said in victory lane.
“Greg [Biffle] lost his drafting partner. We were able to separate him and the [No.] 78 (Regan Smith) and we had such a huge run that Greg was kind of a sitting duck. I was going so fast with Jimmie’s push that we were able to make it past.”
“Going into Speedweeks, I was confident in the team and our chances of qualifying for the race. With the good runs we had last year at superspeedways, I was confident the car was going to be good,” Blaney said.
“I was a little bit surprised that we didn’t qualify on speed Sunday, but the car was really good in the draft today. We drafted with a few different people and the car was fast. We got toward the front a few times but then tried to stay conservative and in front of the other cars who had to qualify.”
Meanwhile, Nemechek was just grateful to even make Sunday’s race.
“What a relief – there’s been a lot of Tums taken this week. People have no clue how hard it is and working with very limited funds. It’s a great day to make the Daytona 500,” he said.
“It’s tough doing it with a small team with no money. We’ve spent a lot of money coming down here banking on trying to make this race. This helps us go farther. We’re going to run this whole race and give it the best shot we can.”
For Wallace, the afternoon was incredibly disappointing. After showing up and making a few moves in the early stages, he suffered through fuel pressure problems and was unable to maintain enough speed to even keep up with the rest of the pack. But despite missing the field, Wallace managed to find the good in a tough race.
“The only reason I’m OK with it is because I know that I gave it may all and it was a part failure, he said. “If I would have made a mistake on the racetrack, I wouldn’t live with myself, but because I couldn’t do anything about it then there’s nothing I can do. I’m upset about it, but once again, I’ve had an incredible week.”
The caution-free race featured four leaders and six lead changes.
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