Kyle Busch can send a thank-you note to Jeff Gordon
And Kevin Harvick is two for two.
In Thursday's second Budweiser Duel 150-mile qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway, Busch inherited the lead when Gordon, who had led all but one lap before pitting on Lap 40, was flagged for speeding on pit road.
The ensuing pass-through penalty handed Busch the top spot, and in a caution-free race (despite Ryan Newman's spin near the entrance to pit road on Lap 40), Busch held off runner-up Kasey Kahne and Austin Dillon to earn the fourth starting spot in Sunday's Daytona 500.
Harvick, the winner of Saturday night's Sprint Unlimited, doubled up in Thursday's first Duel, with Greg Biffle running second, as he did on Saturday night.
Harvick led every lap from 38 through 60 in grabbing the third starting spot for Sunday's Daytona 500. He won the race in a four-lap shootout after Denny Hamlin got sideways and caused the only caution of the race.
Traveling in the outside lane, Hamlin's No. 11 Toyota got loose and turned into the Ford of Carl Edwards, who nosed hard into the outside backstretch wall. The cars of Trevor Bayne and Regan Smith also were damaged in the wreck.
The Wood Brothers, Bayne's team, will go to a back-up car for the Daytona 500, and Bayne will start from the rear because of the equipment change.
Brian Keselowski, who finished 21st in the first Duel, was eliminated from the Daytona 500 field. Mike Bliss, who ran 22nd in the second Duel, was the other driver who failed to qualify for Sunday's race.
Daytona 500 pole winner Danica Patrick, who finished 17th in the first Duel with her car intact, led the field to green but didn't stay at the front for long. With the outside lane clearly the fastest way around the 2.5-mile superspeedway, Patrick dropped out of the top six on Lap 5 and worked her way to the rear of the field along with Stewart, her car owner.
Subsequently, the field went single-file, running at the top of the track near the wall. Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner, led the first 36 laps, before Harvick decided to make a move and grabbed the top spot on Lap 38.
Harvick remained at the point after coming to pit road for a green-flag stop on Lap 42. The pit stops segmented the field, and by Lap 50, Harvick was at the head of a four-car breakaway that included Biffle, Martin Truex Jr. and Jimmie Johnson.
But the first caution of the race erased the advantage of the lead group and bunched the field for a restart on Lap 57.
Juan Pablo Montoya ran third in the first Duel, followed by Johnson and Kurt Busch. Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five in the second Duel.