The second Gatorade Duel race was all about teamwork and brotherly love. Clint Bowyer pushed his Richard Childress Racing teammate Jeff Burton to the checkered flag and victory, while Brad Keselowski pushed his brother Brian into a place in the Daytona 500.
[media-credit name=”David Yeazell” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]”It’s a shame two cars can’t fit in here,” Burton said in Victory Lane. “Clint and I decided that we would find each other early and it worked out well. For us, this is a good start and being in Victory Lane means a great deal.”
“I learned a lot of things,” Bowyer said for his part, acknowledging the pusher role. “I don’t know if there will be another rule change. It was fun out there.”
While Bowyer and Burton were high fiving one another after taking the checkered flag, Brad Keselowski was leaning in to congratulate his brother Brian, newly announced Rookie of the Year candidate, who made the biggest race of his life.
“I owe my brother in a thousand ways,” Brian Keselowski said. “We wouldn’t have made it here without him.”
Keselowski, racing an old Ray Evernham car built in 2006, seemed almost in shock that he had raced his way in to the Daytona 500. “I owe everything to eveybody right now,” Keselowski said.
“I didn’t get to start driving until I was 18 years old,” Keselowski said. “But I had to do it all on my own. If I didn’t put it together, I wouldn’t be racing right now.”
Michael Waltrip, former Daytona 500 winner, also made it in on time, thanks to his third place finish. While he felt “blessed to be here,” Waltrip also admitted that he was really “tired”, particularly mentally after that challenging race.
“You wouldn’t believe how relieving it is to get in no matter how you get in,” Waltrip said.
Thanks to Waltrip’s finish, Travis Kvapil secured his place in the race on his time. This was his first time to really experience the two car tango in race conditions.
“Well it feels great,” Kvapil said about racing his way into the show. “Last year, we missed this race and we have worked really hard over the wintertime. It paid off for us and it’s great for our team.”
The second duel race had a record 22 lead changes and also had a few more cautions than the first race. One of the first drivers to get involved in a wreck was Joey Logano, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota.
“Sometimes you’re the bug and sometimes you’re the windshield,” Logano said. “Today I was the windshield. Wrong place, wrong time.”
Denny Hamlin also had a less than stellar day. The driver of the No. 11 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing had a tire go down and then was involved in a single car spin.
“I have to have a sense of humor I’ve learned this weekend,” Hamlin said. “What’s so crazy is the fact that we were spun out and three laps later we go from deal last to second or something like that.”
“This has been an amazing ride and hopefully our weekend is steadily improving,” Hamlin continued. “We finally did finish. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens from this day forward.”
One of the most heartbreaking wrecks occurred late in the race, when Trevor Bayne, who had been stellar all race long, tussled with Jeff Gordon, causing a multi-car accident. David Ragan was also a significant victim in this wreck as well.
“I really had a blast working with Trevor Bayne,” Gordon said. “He’s a good kid. He’s a heck of a race car driver.”
For his part, Bayne was thrilled to have been working with his boyhood hero, Jeff Gordon.
“Gordon and I worked awesome together and it was just down there at the end,” Bayne said. “I hate it for all these guys because we were doing awesome, but that’s part of it. That’s racing. We’ll get there.”
In addition to the two car tandem of Jeff Burton, winner, and runner up Clint Bowyer, Michael Waltrip, Kyle Busch and Brian Keselowski rounded out the top five finishers. Jamie McMurray, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex, Jr. and Carl Edwards completed the top ten in the second Gatorade duel.