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Gordon wins second qualifier.

Jeff Gordon cemented his outside front row starting spot and his status as pre-race favourite for Sunday's Daytona 500 with a convincing victory in the second of Thursday's two Gatorade Duel qualifying races.

With the evening drawing on and the threat of rain ever-present, Gordon managed to hold off the combined might of a three pronged Roush Racing assault as well as another green white chequered flag finish to claim the third Daytona qualifying race win of his career.

The driver of the #24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet stayed at or near the front throughout what turned into a 64 lap duel, leading 38 laps including all those following the main round of pit stops, when he assumed the lead after his teammate Kyle Busch overshot his pit stall and lost several positions.

For much of the second half of the race, which was interrupted by two caution periods, one for Dave Blaney's puncture and miraculous save aboard Bill Davis' #22 Dodge and one just as the field was preparing to take the white flag for J.J Yeley's wild but generally harmless spin off turn four, Gordon had to hold off Jamie McMurray, Mark Martin and Greg Biffle. However when all three Roush cars pitted under the Blaney caution with ten laps remaining, Gordon was able to find a friend at the front when Busch also stayed out.

Busch soon moved into second spot and was able to hold onto that position through the green white chequered to complete a Hendrick 1-2 with McMurray third, Petty Enterprises Bobby Labonte fourth and Martin fifth.

A little way behind the leaders the battle for the final two transfer spots into the Daytona 500 went down to the final inches as Mike Wallace and Scott Riggs duelled for the final qualifying position.

With Robby Gordon, already assured of a place in Sunday's big race thanks to the results of the first Gatorade Duel, running as the best placed 'non top 35' driver, Wallace was able to hold Riggs at bay for the final spot, helped greatly by some last lap contact between Riggs and Wallace's younger brother Kenny, who also failed to qualify.

Gordon crossed the line in tenth spot, his result meaning that Crash.Net's favourite 'Underdog' Kirk Shelmerdine, who briefly ran in the top six but who eventually finished 21st, qualified for Sunday's main event by virtue of his Bud Pole qualifying effort. For Shelmerdine, who has spent the last two years trying to compete on the Nextel Cup tour with some equipment and engines dating from the 1990's after an illustrious career as the late Dale Earnhardt's crew-chief, this was just reward for two years of struggles and disappointment.

While Shelmerdine and his small band of very merry men will undoubtedly celebrate long into the evening, Riggs and Kenny Wallace led the list of the heartbroken who will watch Sunday's race on TV. In addition to the above two, Scott Wimmer, Chad Blount, Carl Long, Morgan Shepherd and Stanton Barrett also failed to qualify.




Related Pictures

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Jeff Gordon tests at Daytona. [Pic Credit Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images]
Kyle Busch tests his Hendrick Motorsport Chevrolet in Las Vegas. [Pic Credit Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images]
Jamie McMurray talks to new crew chief Jimmy Fennig in Las Vegas. [Pic Credit Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images]
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, who is not in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, qualified for 2nd position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. He will be joined on the front row by Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS who won the Pole position. Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, who is not in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, won the pole position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. He will be joined by Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS on the front row. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, climbs into his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Goody`s Headache Relief Shot 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 24, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, speaks during a press conference prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 7, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Fastenal Ford, climbs out of his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 7, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 8, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, talks to his crew chief, Paul Wolfe, after failing to advance to the championship round of the Chase for the Spring Cup after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/ Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, speaks to the media during a press conference after failing to advance to race for the championship in the season finale after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 8, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/ Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway on November 9, 2014 in Avondale, Arizona.  (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finished in 2nd place Sunday, November 9, 2014 in the final Eliminator 8 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona. Gordon just missed out being in the Championship 4 finale next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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