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Kahne wins Gatorade Duel's second race
Kasey Kahne nipped Tony Stewart at the checkered flag Thursday in the second of two NASCAR Sprint Cup Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway.
Kahne beat Stewart by .014 seconds.
Earlier in the day, in an equally close race, three-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson won the first Gatorade Duel. Johnson will start third in Sunday's Daytona 500, while Kahne will start fourth. Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will fill the first two positions.
Kahne's win Thursday was the first win for Ford’s new FR9 engine. The win also marked the first for Richard Petty Motorsports since joining Ford at the beginning of this season.
The victory was also Kahne’s first at Daytona International Speedway, the first with Ford in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and the 20th win for
Ford in a Gatorade Duel qualifying race. Kahne becomes the third active Ford driver to win a Gatorade Duel, joining Bill Elliott (4) and Elliott Sadler (2).
“It was a pretty good race for us," No. 9 Budweiser Ford Fusion Crew Chief Kenny Francis said. "In the Shootout the other day was our first run in a Ford and that went pretty well, we finished second, so this one was a pretty good race for us. I don’t think we ever got shuffled back too far. The car seemed to handle fairly good. We made a pretty good adjustment at the pit stop that we made and that helped him out. I think that was part of the difference where he was able to really get up front and really race pretty hard.”
“It was really exciting throughout the race," Kahne said. "My car started off pretty loose on entry and a little bit tight off, and Kenny Francis and our Budweiser team did a great job on the pit stop to get it a little bit better. At that point, I tried to learn what some of the other guys’ cars were doing and once I got behind Tony I felt like I was in a really good position and just needed to take advantage when I got the right push, and Kurt (Busch) gave me that in turn one. I was able to sneak under Tony and from there I just tried to keep the (No.) 2 behind me. He was really strong
throughout the whole race, so I felt if I could keep him behind me that I’d have a decent shot at winning it and trying to beat Tony. It was close, but we were able to pull it off. It feels good to win at Daytona.”