Hamlin, Kenseth win Daytona Duels for JGR

Austin Dillion will start on the poll for Sunday's Daytona 500
Austin Dillion will start on the poll for Sunday’s Daytona 500

The good news for pole sitter Austin Dillion is that he did not wreck his car and will remain on the point to start Sunday’s “Great American Race,” the Daytona 500. The bad news for him and the rest of the field is that two Joe Gibbs Racing cars are sitting right behind him.

If the last couple of weeks are any indication what the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season is going to be like then it is going to be a great year for Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota. Last night JGR drivers Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth won the Duel 150 qualifying races for Sunday’s big Daytona 500.

In case you are counting it has been 21 years ago since a JGR car has been in the winner’s circle at the Daytona 500, the teams only win was with Dale Jarrett in 1993.  But this year things could be better as they seem to have the hot drivers and the hot cars heading into Sunday’s big race.

Case in point for Kenseth, it was redemption after a pair of wrecks during Speedweeks. Hamlin’s victory kept him undefeated on 2014.

Hamlin also won last Saturday’s exhibition Sprint Unlimited, and he goes into Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500 trying to become the first driver in history to sweep Speedweeks biggest events.

Some of the big name drivers will be starting from the back of the field due to a couple wrecks. The biggest came on the last lap of the second of the Duel 150’s.  Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet ran out of gas, Jamie McMurray nudged him into the outside wall, setting off a chain reaction that involved seven cars, including Clint Bowyer’s, which barrel-rolled in midair.

Bowyer, McMurray, David Ragan and Michael Waltrip also will use backup cars on Sunday because of Thursday night’s wreck. Kevin Harvick, who finished in second in the first Duel of the night, failed the post-race inspection. His disqualification put Brian Vickers, the 16th-place finisher in the first Duel, into the Daytona 500. Harvick still will be in the race, but instead of starting from the fifth position, his official starting spot will be 38th, with that position secured on 2013 car-owner points.

After the second Duel’s smoke cleared, NASCAR announced the top 15 finishers as Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Paul Menard, Brian Scott, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Landon Cassill, Bowyer, McMurray, Terry Labonte, Bobby Labonte, Casey Mears and Carl Edwards. Because Truex already was in the field through his Sunday qualifying lap, Johnson, the 16th-place finisher in Duel 2, also earned a transfer into the Daytona 500.

Those 30 drivers will fill starting positions 3 through 32.

Daytona 500 starting lineup

1. Austin Dillon
2. Martin Truex Jr.
3. Matt Kenseth
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Kasey Kahne
6. Jeff Gordon
7. Marcos Ambrose
8. Kurt Busch
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
10. Paul Menard
11. Josh Wise
12. Brian Scott
13. Aric Almirola
14. Trevor Bayne
15. AJ Allmendinger
16. Kyle Larson
17. David Gilliland
18. Landon Cassill
19. Ryan Newman
20. Clint Bowyer
21. Tony Stewart
22. Jamie McMurray
23. Cole Whitt
24. Terry Labonte
25. Greg Biffle
26. Bobby Labonte
27. Danica Patrick
28. Casey Mears
29. Alex Bowman
30. Carl Edwards
31. Brian Vickers
32. Jimmie Johnson
33. Brad Keselowski
34. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
35. Joey Logano
36. Michael Annett
37. Kyle Busch
38. Kevin Harvick
39. Reed Sorenson
40. Justin Allgaier
41. Parker Kligerman
42. Michael Waltrip
43. David Ragan