DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth had two of the strongest cars in the season-opening Daytona 500 but had nothing to show for it after a pair of engine failures.
The Joe Gibbs Racing duo is determined not to let that happen Saturday night in their return to Daytona International Speedway.
Busch and Kenseth swept the front row in Friday qualifying, with Busch turning a lap at 193.723 mph to win the pole. Kenseth was second at 193.299.
It’s Busch’s third pole of the season, 13th of his career, but first for a restrictor-plate race.
“I’ve not had many opportunities for me to win poles at restrictor-plate races, so I’ve got to thank the team, all the guys at Joe Gibbs Racing that did such a good job building a slick race car,” Busch said. “It’s a team effort coming to these places and having great race cars.
“I’m really excited to be starting up front, especially with my teammate Matt Kenseth on the front row with us.”
Kenseth led 86 laps at Daytona in February and was out front with teammates Busch and Denny Hamlin right behind him when his engine failed. Two laps later, Busch was headed to the garage with his own race-ending failure.
“We were lined up 1-2-3 when I broke and Kyle broke shortly after that,” Kenseth said. “Our plate stuff has been really fast this year. Qualifying doesn’t always mean a lot at a superspeedway, but it’s nice to start up front. Hopefully we can keep it up and stay in front of any potential trouble.”
Matt Kenseth has won the Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway.
Kenseth was leading when the race resumed with two laps to go following a red-flag stoppage of nearly 10 minutes. James Buescher hooked onto his back bumper and the two broke away from the pack.
As Kenseth and Buescher sailed cleanly to the finish, the battle behind them was for third place. It went to Elliott Sadler, who picked up a $100,000 bonus from series sponsor Nationwide as the highest finishing driver in the “Dash 4 Cash” program.
Kurt Busch finished fourth in a car designed with the beloved City Chevrolet paint scheme from the “Days of the Thunder” movie.
He and the Phoenix Racing crew spent much of the race in character with Busch reciting movie lines.
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