DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Kevin Harvick made it 2 for 2 at Speedweeks on Thursday by winning the first Daytona 500 qualifying race.
Harvick held off Greg Biffle over a four-lap sprint to win the first 150-mile Budweiser Duel. Harvick and Biffle also went 1-2 in last Saturday night's exhibition race.
``Man, we're just having a good time,'' said Harvick, who has his infant son at Daytona International Speedway for the first time. ``Just relaxing, ready to race.''
The starting field for Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500 is set by the results from the pair of 60-lap qualifiers.
The first race Thursday was dull until Denny Hamlin brought out the only caution with seven laps remaining. Hamlin lost control of his car, spun into Carl Edwards and triggered a four-car accident that also collected Regan Smith and Trevor Bayne, who had a dominant car early in the qualifier.
``I know what the wrecks look like now, I am really familiar with them,'' said Edwards, who was also wrecked in Wednesday's practice.
Juan Pablo Montoya, who infamously crashed into a jet dryer during last year's Daytona 500 to trigger a massive fuel fire, stopped for minor repairs during the caution. Montoya restarted the race in 13th with four laps remaining, but rocketed through the field to finish third.
``It was time to go,'' he said.
The bulk of the race seemed to be one long parade of NASCAR's new Gen-6 race car. Unsure of how the cars handle in packs, and when the drivers choose to side-draft, most of the field in the first race played it conservatively.
``The choice was obviously made by a bunch of us to run around in circles and just make laps,'' said two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip, who needed a clean race to guarantee a spot in Sunday's field.
``I'm just trying to make the race. There were a lot of people that just wanted to get through some laps and understand what was going on. There were some of us that would have run like that until they threw the checkered just to make the race. And then there were some that decided it was time to go, and they made it work.''
Waltrip is racing in a special Sandy Hook Special Support Fund paint scheme, and his car number has been changed to No. 26 as a tribute to the 26 students and teachers killed in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.
``There's a lot of people up in Connecticut with a smile on their face right now. I'm real proud to get in the race for them,'' Waltrip said.
Danica Patrick started on the pole for the first race and simply need to keep her car intact to hang on to her front row starting spot in the Daytona 500. She raced a little at the start of the duel, then faded back in the field and wound up 17th out of 23 cars.
``What I really feel like I need to do is go down to the Harvick bus and see what he's doing,'' she said. ``He's got it going on down here.''
Patrick became the first woman in history to win a pole at NASCAR's top level when she qualified first for the Daytona 500, and she'll start there Sunday.

Recent NASCAR Discussions

NASCAR Odds

Driver Odds
Odds to Win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup 2017 Championship
Jimmie Johnson #48 +500
Kyle Busch #18 +700
Joey Logano #22 +700
Kevin Harvick #4 +700
Martin Truex, Jr. #78 +750

Nascar Top Stories

Thumbnail Hisense 4K TV 300 Picks The NASCAR Xfinity Series gets a busy racing weekend started later today with the Hisense 4K TV 300. Here are some...
Thumbnail Hisense 4K TV 300 Odds The NASCAR Xfinity Series is back on action this weekend with the running of the Hisense 4K TV 300. Here is a look at the odds to win this Xfinity Series...
Thumbnail Coca-Cola 600 Odds The NASCAR Monster Energy Series holds its longest race of the year this Sunday when drivers compete in the Coca-Cola 600. Here is a look...
Thumbnail NASCAR All-Star Race Picks The NASCAR All-Star Race will be held later tonight. Here are some drivers we think can come away with the win in this exhibition.
Thumbnail North Education Lottery 200 Odds The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drives under the lights on Friday night for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200. Here is a look at the odds to win the...