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Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth Win Gatorade Dual Races

Chris Graythen, Getty Images
Chris Graythen, Getty Images

Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth won Thursday’s Gatorade Dual races, the two 150-mile qualifiers for Sunday’s Daytona 500.

The first race was marred by accidents involving Danica Patrick and two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip. Patrick got spun out on the last lap, then hit the wall hard and will have to use a backup car Sunday.

Waltrip failed to qualify for NASCAR’s season-opener, ending his streak of 25 consecutive years in The Great American Race.

It was Stewart’s 17th career win at Daytona International Speedway, second most all time behind Dale Earnhardt (34). The Daytona 500 is the only major stock car race not on Stewarts winning resume.

Kenseth, the 2003 Cup champion and 2009 Daytona 500 winner, took the lead on the final lap and held off a charge by his rivals to win the second Gatorade Duel.

The win for the No. 17 Best Buy Ford was team owner Jack Roush’s first in the Duel races in his organization’s 25 years of Cup competition.

Perhaps the biggest winners Thursday were Michael McDowell and Robby Gordon in the first race, and Joe Nemechek and Dave Blaney in the second Duel as all four raced their way into the field for the Daytona 500.

They will join Trevor Bayne, David Stremme and Tony Raines, who are in the field based on posting the top qualifying times among drivers not locked in on owners points, and Terry Labonte, who will use a past champions provisional.

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