Kevin Harvick won the first of two Budweiser Duel qualifying races Thursday, putting him in the third spot at the Daytona 500 behind Danica Patrick and Jeff Gordon. He is widely viewed as the fan favorite for the “Great American Race,” which takes place this Sunday, February 24th.
This title is not necessarily one that Harvick would have picked for himself. “We like to be the lame-duck underdog. That’s what we’re shooting for,” Harvick told CBS News. “If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. We definitely have the car and team to be in contention to do that.”
With the NASCAR racers still getting accustomed to their new gen-6 racing cars, however, there is plenty of time for players other than Kevin Harvick to shine. Additionally, ESPN reports that Kyle Busch (winner of the second Budwiser Duel) sees the Daytona 500 as a having a much different dynamic than the qualifying battles we’ve seen so far, with double the cars racing through Speedweeks on Sunday compared to Thursday’s race.
“There were half the field in each race, obviously,” Busch said. “There’s going to be twice as many good cars, twice as many middle of the pack cars, twice as many back of the pack cars. If you can get your car handling, driving, feeling good, you’ll be able to be one of the guys that’s up front.”
Fellow driver Danica Patrick made history last week as she became the first woman to win the pole position for a race in NASCAR’s top division. She blazed through the two-and-a-half mile track at an average speed of 196.434 miles per hour. Patrick may still have a tough battle ahead of her, however: According to CBS News, only about one out of every five previous NASCAR pole winners has gone on to win the Daytona 500.
Last week Kevin Harvick won NASCAR’s Sprint Unlimited race for the third time in his career. After picking up the lead during the second segment, he maintained control of the race with only Greg Bittle offering a potential upset before Harvick claimed victory. Fans were able to vote on the structure of the Sprint Unlimited exhibition, a first in NASCAR history. Who are you rooting for this Sunday?