“To be able to get out there and race and be out there with good cars - those Gibbs cars are awfully strong,” Johnson said following his victory. “So to size myself up against them and see what kind of runs they can create and try to put on me. At the start of the race, I was behind those two trying to figure out to get by them. All in all, it was a very productive night.”
Johnson led a race-high 31 laps as he blocked Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth for the final handful of laps. After expressing his No. 48 car’s strengths in the second half of the race, the six-time champion fought off the Toyota-powered cars to earn the victory.
Ryan Blaney finished inside of the top five in the Wood Brothers Ford. Blaney will race in his first Daytona 500 in what will be the beginning of an 18-race stint with the No. 21 team.
Danica Patrick, who was on the verge of missing the Daytona 500 after spinning on Lap 56, finished 10th to race her way in. Following the race, Patrick and Denny Hamlin exchanged words on pit road in a heated discussion. Patrick believed that Hamlin got into the rear end of her No. 10 car, but he continuously denied it.
Front Row Motorsports driver David Ragan entered the second Budweiser Duel 150 with no owner points and a qualifying time outside of the top 30. With the No. 34 car’s owner points going to new teammate Cole Whitt, Ragan had to race his way into the Daytona 500 by finishing inside of the top 16. On Lap 19, Ragan and Justin Allgaier got together on the frontstretch. Ragan’s car received rear end damage, and he fell one lap down following a lengthy pit stop under caution. However, after getting back on the lead lap, he was able to surge into the top 16 – finishing 14th.
Reed Sorenson, who nearly didn’t have the opportunity to race on Thursday evening due to not having a backup car at the track, executed his way into the top 10 late in the race, along with Mike Wallace as the two made it into the Daytona 500.
Brian Scott missed the Daytona 500 in the No. 62 Chevrolet. Bobby Labonte finished 20th, but was able to use the champion’s provisional to make his way into Sunday’s event. Jeb Burton and Alex Bowman didn’t qualify for the race after being involved in a wreck on Lap 36 with Sam Hornish, Jr. and Austin Dillon. Hornish made the race based on owner points, and Dillon was able to continue and finished 15th. Josh Wise wasn’t able to get going from the start of the race in his Phil Parsons Racing No. 98 Ford. He was able to make it back on track for a handful of laps, but finished 24th.
Starting lineup via NASCAR.com.
|1||Jeff Gordon||Jimmie Johnson||Top two qualifiers (Final round of Coors Light Pole Qualifying)|
|2||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Kyle Busch||Top 15 from Duel races (Inside: First race; Outside: Second race)|
|3||Joey Logano||Carl Edwards||Top 15 from Duel races|
|4||Tony Stewart||Greg Biffle||Top 15 from Duel races|
|5||Clint Bowyer||Martin Truex Jr.||Top 15 from Duel races|
|6||Kevin Harvick||Ryan Blaney||Top 15 from Duel races|
|7||Kasey Kahne||Reed Sorenson||Top 15 from Duel races|
|8||Jamie McMurray||Mike Wallace||Top 15 from Duel races|
|9||Landon Cassill||Justin Allgaier||Top 15 from Duel races|
|10||Cole Whitt||Danica Patrick||Top 15 from Duel races|
|11||Paul Menard||Ryan Newman||Top 15 from Duel races|
|12||Michael McDowell||Kurt Busch||Top 15 from Duel races|
|13||JJ Yeley||David Gilliland||Top 15 from Duel races|
|14||Michael Annett||David Ragan||Top 15 from Duel races|
|15||Kyle Larson||Austin Dillon||Top 15 from Duel races|
|16||Ty Dillon||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Top 15 from Duel races|
|17||Aric Almirola||Michael Waltrip||Four fastest qualifiers from any round|
|18||Matt Kenseth||Johnny Sauter||Four fastest qualifiers from any round|
|19||Denny Hamlin||Brad Keselowski||2014 owner points|
|20||Trevor Bayne||AJ Allmendinger||2014 owner points|
|21||Sam Hornish Jr.||Casey Mears||2014 owner points|
|22||Bobby Labonte||xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx||Past champion