Jimmy John's Driver Will Start Ninth in 58th Daytona 500 on Sunday
Date: Feb. 18, 2016
Event: Race No. 1 of the Duel at Daytona (non-points qualifying races for the 58th Daytona 500)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway
Start/Finish: 22nd/4th (Running, completed 60 of 60 laps)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished fourth in his Duel at Daytona on Thursday night at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The Duel twin qualifying races set the 40-car field for the season-opening Daytona 500. Harvick’s fourth-place finish in the first Duel earned him the ninth starting spot for the 58th Daytona 500 on Sunday.
Harvick qualified 16th last Sunday; however, following post-qualifying inspection, NASCAR officials determined the track bar on the Nos. 4 and 14 cars were “not in compliance with prescribed specifications,” and the qualifying times for Harvick and Brian Vickers were disallowed. Both drivers started at the rear of their respective Duel races on Thursday.
The Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS began the 60-lap race around the 2.5-mile superspeedway in the 22nd position and raced into the top-10 by the time cars came to pit road for fuel on lap 39. Following the green-flag stop, Harvick quickly moved into the top-five, then into the third position when the first caution flag flew on lap 44. Harvick stayed out in the third position during the caution and raced his way to second on the restart.
With five laps to go, the Bakersfield, California, native dropped to the bottom line trying to protect his position and fell from second to fourth. The move allowed Harvick to lead the bottom row and hold his position, but he was unable to gain any additional spots by the checkered flag.
“I’m really happy” said Harvick, who won the 2013 Budweiser Duel. “We went through the field on that particular occasion and raced up at the front. We had a couple of little handling things that we could make better, but all in all, really happy, just for the fact we could pass cars, maneuver, and the handling was good. There were a lot of cars where the handling was starting to go away. So, in the mix, that is what we needed to do.”
Harvick’s SHR teammate Kurt Busch led the way for SHR by finishing third in his Duel race. Busch’s third-place finish in the second Duel race slots him and his No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet SS eighth for the 58th Daytona 500 on Sunday.
Busch was running third as the field took the white flag, but became collateral damage when a six-car accident triggered by Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray froze the field and forced the race to end under caution. The No. 41 team will make repairs to the racecar rather than go to the backup. As a result, Busch will not have to forfeit his starting position for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Two of Busch’s SHR teammates joined him in the second Duel – Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS, and Brian Vickers, interim driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS as he subs for the injured Tony Stewart. Patrick finished seventh to line up 16th in the Great American Race, and Vickers finished eighth to start 18th in the Daytona 500.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the first Duel by .183 of a second over runner-up Joey Logano. Ryan Blaney, Harvick and Denny Hamlin took spots three through five. The rest of the top-10 consisted of Chase Elliott, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Chris Buescher and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Kyle Busch won the second Duel under caution ahead of runner-up Jamie McMurray. Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Ty Dillon took spots three through five. The rest of the top-10 consisted of Kyle Larson, Patrick, Vickers, Matt DiBenedetto and Michael Annett.
With the Duel now complete, the field for the Daytona 500 is set. On the pole is Chase Elliott, and alongside him is Matt Kenseth. By notching the two quickest times during Sunday’s qualifying session, both drivers were able to lock themselves into the front row for the Daytona 500.
Failing to qualify for the Daytona 500 were David Gilliland, Reed Sorenson, Cole Whitt and Josh Wise.
The Daytona 500 gets underway at 1 p.m. EST Sunday, Feb. 21, with live coverage provided by FOX.