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The Daytona 500 Results

Rain might have delayed today’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, but it certainly did not take away from the excitement of the sport’s premiere event.

Joe Gibbs Racing was a large part of today’s excitement with all three cars in the top ten in the closing laps, but when it was over, Denny Hamlin’s second-place effort would be team’s best finish on this night, while Matt Kenseth would earn a strong sixth-place finish, and a late accident left Kyle Busch back in 19th.
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JGR Sweeps Twin Qualifying Races in Daytona

Joe Gibbs Racing swept tonight’s Twin 150 Duel Races at Daytona International Speedway.

Matt Kenseth won the first 60-lap qualifying race and was followed by another impressive effort from Denny Hamlin, who built upon his victory in last Saturday’s Sprint Unlimited Showdown with a victory in the second duel. Meanwhile Kyle Busch battled an ill-handling race car to finish 20th in the first duel.

Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is unique to the remainder of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season as the pole positions are the only two spots determined by the fastest lap times made during a traditional qualifying session. Austin Dillon earned the pole position last Sunday by running the fastest lap time and was followed by Martin Truex, Jr. who earned the outside pole spot.

The remainder of the field was set tonight based upon the results of two Twin 150 Duels run at Daytona International Speedway.

JGR teammates Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch lined up ninth and 11th respectively for the opening Duel of the night. Kenseth would make his way to the front of the field on lap 28 and led a total of 31 laps en route to an impressive victory which included holding off a hard charging Kevin Harvick at the finish. The win means Kenseth will line up third for the start of Sunday’s Daytona 500. Meanwhile Busch was not as fortunate as he battled an ill-handling car to a 20th-place finish. He will line up 37th for the start of the race Sunday.

Denny Hamlin started No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota from the 11th position in the second duel and was able to build upon his impressive victory last Saturday in the season opening all-star race with another win tonight. He would take the lead with a well-executed pit stop on lap 37 and never looked back taking the checkered flag in first. The win will allow Hamlin to start Sunday’s Daytona 500 from the fourth position.

The Great American Race will once again provide the official start to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season when Fox carries the Daytona 500 live from Daytona International Speedway Sunday, February 23 beginning at Noon ET (race begins at 1 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius NASCAR radio channel 90.

The No. 1 Moment of 2013 … Matt Kenseth’s First Win with Joe Gibbs Racing!

When Matt Kenseth won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after only three races with his new team, it sent a clear message to all of NASCAR; the No. 20 team is back and laid the groundwork for the team being a force to be reckoned with for 2013.

Everyone was already watching to see how the veteran driver would perform with a new team, a new crew chief and a new car. While Matt has always been a talented driver with a championship and two Daytona 500 victories on his resume, change can be difficult, and it can often take some time to adapt.

It turned out that all the time that the No. 20 team needed was three races.

Matt and his new crew chief Jason Ratcliff formed a strong relationship early on. The team was dominant at the Daytona 500, running up front for most of the race as they led for a total of 86 laps before engine problems put them out of the competition. Two weeks later at Las Vegas, they had worked out the kinks and brought home the trophy.

Matt started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota in the 18th position at Las Vegas after rain washed out qualifying, but wasted no time making his way into the top-10. He drove his way up to eighth by lap 20, and broke into the top five on lap 151. When a caution came out with just over 40 laps remaining, the Dollar General team made the call for fuel only allowing Matt to restart as the leader on lap 230. Matt led the field to the green flag on the restart, but another caution came out with 32 to go. The yellow flag did little to deter him and the Dollar General team, however, as he took the lead on the restart and held off a hard-charge from Kasey Kahne during the final 20 laps to get the win.

“I was really nervous,” commented Matt from Victory Lane that day. “All day Kasey Kahne had the best car, and I told Jason (Ratcliff) with about 12 (laps) to go — I apologized to him, ‘I’m sorry man, I’m beat.’ I was getting too tight and I was killing the right front tire. I just had to make sure I stayed in front of Kasey since we didn’t have quite the fastest car at the end, but we had it where it needed to be. We had great pit stops and great pit strategy. We were in the right place at the right time and we took advantage of it.”
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No. 2: Darrell Wallace Jr. Wins at Martinsville

“We Came. We Saw. We Conquered.” @bubbawallace

It was history in the making as Darrell Wallace Jr. crossed the finish line at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway with tears in his eyes. The 20-year-old driver’s first-place finish was not only a personal victory, but also a victory for the whole sport. Darrell became the second African American driver to win a NASCAR National Series race in the history of the sport.

“I’m speechless right now,” Darrell said. “I couldn’t even hold it together coming off (turn) four with the checkered. I still can’t.”

Darrell dominated the Saturday evening race at Martinsville leading 96 laps and winning a final restart with five laps to go to bring home the checkered flag. It was his 19th start in his rookie season as a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) driver for Kyle Busch Motorsports, and his first win in a NASCAR National Series.

A win was certainly pending for the young driver, but had kept eluding him. Darrell was confident, however, as he went into the weekend race at Martinsville. He had come close to winning several times before, but costly wrecks had ruined those opportunities. At Martinsville, he was not going to try to win. He knew he was going to win before the green flag dropped.

“I had so much confidence coming into this race,” Darrell said. “I told my guys that I did, and I told everybody that asked if I was going to win I said, ‘Hell yeah’ every time. So, it was no maybe we’re going to try, this one was for sure and we capitalized.”
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