Busch Claims Victory in First Daytona Duel

February 18, 2011

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 17, 2011) - Shell-Pennzoil Dodge driver Kurt Busch won his 150-mile qualifying race Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. He had already gone into the record books as being the first Dodge driver to ever win the Budweiser Shootout, the feat he pulled off in his first NASCAR win on this track last Saturday night. Busch will be chasing a major piece of history on Sunday as he attempts to win the 53rd Annual Daytona 500 and be the first driver ever to sweep all three races during a single Speed Weeks.

Busch started sixth in today's first of the two "Gatorade Duels" 150-mile qualifying races. His original plan was to hook up with Matt Kenseth and do the "Two-Car Tango," but when the cars sorted out at the start, he found himself drafting with Regan Smith.

"This is sweet," said Busch. "It was just an overall team effort to get this victory. To have Shell-Pennzoil on board and start this strong with the ‘Double-Deuce Dodge,' I'm beside myself. The teamwork that it takes at the shop and the teamwork that it takes on the race track, this new draft is something different. I think it's pretty special how Daytona can be repaved after 30 years and you see something completely different, yet it's still the same old Daytona. You have to have a partner. The slingshot is there. Regan Smith, awesome competitor. He's been strong on these restrictor plate tracks and he was a great teammate today.

"That was just the way things shook out," Busch said of how he wound up drafting with Smith instead of Kenseth. "Regan and I drafted well together last week in the practice before the Shootout. We had planned on drafting together in that race, too, but we got separated so early in the race that we wound up hooking up with the No. 1 car (Jamie McMurray)."

"It's going to be a whole different game when we have to come out here and do this for 500 miles because the mental fatigue is tough," Busch said of his major challenge that waits ahead in Sunday's battle. "You have to know where your teammate is going to be and what you have to do to win this bad boy. Hey, two for two so far, we want that big one next weekend."

With Dale Earnhardt Jr. having to go to the rear of the field on Sunday after crashing his primary car, Busch will now move up to take the green flag from the pole spot in Sunday's edition of the "Great American Race."

Sunday's 53rd Annual Daytona 500 has a scheduled 1:00 p.m. EST starting time at Daytona International Speedway. FOX-TV and MRN Radio will provide live coverage of all the action.