Kyle Busch secured victory in the second Gatorade Duel race at Daytona after a dramatic end to the 60 lap encounter as Jeremy Mayfield and AJ Allmendinger both secured their place in Sunday's Daytona 500.
Busch came out on top of a frantic final lap to take the victory and was the only driver inside the top ten to retain his place on the final tour of the Daytona International Speedway, but it was the lap that mattered as he defended the lead from Mark Martin through turn four to take honours.
Martin and Red Bull's Brian Vickers had looked well placed when they pitted before a late caution period, brought out when Ryan Newman was turned into the wall on the back straight, with the rest of the field then pitting for fresh tyres under yellow – putting Martin and Vickers at the head of the field.
Good team-work from Joe Gibbs pairing Busch and Denny Hamlin however saw the pair move into the top two places as Hamlin helped push his team-mate past Martin, but the Hendrick man battled back on the final lap and got a run on Hamlin to go second; the pair making contact in the process. Martin then got a push from Vickers and was able to get a run on Busch into turn four, but the #18 M&M's car went high to prevent Martin storming past and Busch took the win from Martin and Vickers, who went low to try and go for the win but was unable to make a pass for the lead. Juan Montoya took fourth ahead of Hamlin and Bobby Labonte.
One of the undoubted stars of the race was Mayfield, who headed to Daytona having managed to set up his own team barely weeks before the event and was able to secure a slot in the 500 with a strong run to ninth, having run third on the final restart. Just behind him, former open-wheel racer Allmendinger also raced into the 500 with a tenth place finish.
The race featured just two caution periods, the first coming when Boris Said and Scott Speed tangled, with Said going into the wall and seeing his hopes of securing a slot in the race come to an end. The second, and the caution that set up the dramatic finish, occurred when Newman came up to lap the slower car of Norm Benning. Newman went low on the back-stretch but was given the slightest of touches from behind from David Reutimann, which turned the US Army Chevrolet sideways and hard into the wall.
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