February 12, 2009
Busch Wins Gatorade Duel
Date: Feb. 12, 2009
M&M'S®Driver Holds Off Late-Race Charge to Score Third NASCAR Win at Daytona
Event: Gatorade Duel Race No. 2 (non-point qualifying race for the 51st Daytona 500)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway
Start/Finish:8th/1st (Running, completed 60 of 60 laps)
Winners: Gatorade Duel No. 1 – Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet) Gatorade Duel No. 2 – Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Kyle Busch led the final five laps of his Gatorade Duel qualifying race to score his first win of 2009 and his third NASCAR victory at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M'S®Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series held off a furious charge from Mark Martin and Brian Vickers through the final two turns of the 2.5-mile oval to win the second of two 150-mile qualifying races that set the field for the Daytona 500.
Busch led only once for five laps in the 60-lap sprint, but they culminated with the one that counted, and he credited his spotter, Jeff Dickerson, for assisting during the frantic, final run to the checkered flag.
“He won the race,” said Busch, who earned a fourth-place starting spot in the Daytona 500 via his Gatorade Duel victory. “It was awesome with Jeff, having him on the radio – always is. It was a great race. I just want to give a special thanks to the fans for coming out today, and thanks to M&M’s and all the people who make it possible for us to come out here and have some fun.”
Busch started eighth and was in contention for the win during the entire race. He took the lead from Martin on lap 56 and remained unchallenged until Martin made a run on the high side as the duo entered turn three on the final lap.
In a masterful piece of driving, Busch drifted up the racetrack and kept Martin at bay as he kept a watchful eye on Vickers, who was making a move to pass Busch on the low side. Vickers didn’t have enough momentum to get by, allowing Busch to pull down in front of him to seal his first Gatorade Duel victory. Busch also won the July 2007 NASCAR Nationwide Series race and the July 2008 Sprint Cup event at the 2.5-mile oval.
“I saw Mark coming,” Busch said. “He had a fast racecar too, and probably had the car to beat and win this race, but we made the right moves. Mark going to the high side in three and four and Jeff Dickerson spotting me just drove me right up there and kind of blocked him a little bit and then drove me down and blocked Brian Vickers there.
“It’s the Gatorade Duels. If it was the Daytona 500, we probably would’ve been nosed up in the fence or something. I’m glad we got away with that now. It was a great race for us.”
Busch won the second Gatorade Duel by .153 of a second over Martin, while Vickers, Juan Pablo Montoya and Denny Hamlin took spots three through five. The rest of the top-10 consisted of Bobby Labonte, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeremy Mayfield and A.J. Allmendinger.
Jeff Gordon won the first Gatorade Duel by .205 of a second over Tony Stewart, while Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Aric Almirola rounded-out the top-five. Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Scott Riggs, Paul Menard, and Jamie McMurray comprised the remainder of the top-10.
With the Gatorade Duel races now complete, the field for the Daytona 500 is set. On the pole is Martin Truex Jr., and alongside him is Martin. By notching the two quickest times during time trials last Sunday, both drivers were able to lock themselves into the front row for the Daytona 500. All the remaining drivers, however, had to race their way to a starting spot via the Gatorade Duel.
Busch’s JGR teammates Logano and Hamlin, will start ninth and 10th, respectively.
Those who didn’t make the cut and will be forced to watch the Daytona 500 from the sidelines are 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.
The 51st Daytona 500 gets underway at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 15 with live coverage on FOX, beginning with a pre-race show at 2 p.m.