Kyle Busch won the second Can-Am Duel race at Daytona International Speedway Thursday night and the field is now set for the Great American Race.
The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota led 35 of the 60 laps on his way to taking the checkered flag. Busch will start fourth in the Daytona 500 provided teammate Matt Kenseth doesn’t go to a backup car.
Busch spoke about the win and its implications for the Daytona 500.
“Definitely a unique opportunity for us and our team,” he said. “Joe Gibbs Racing has come down with more speed this time around. In the Can-Am Duels tonight we also showed we had good speed. Denny had a fast car. Myself, Matt and Carl, we ran up in the top three much of the race.”
“Daytona obviously lends itself with this restrictor plate package to pack racing,” Busch continued. “We see that quite a bit down here in Daytona. It’s always a good, exciting race, tends to be towards the end. I wouldn’t expect anything less out of the Daytona 500 here on Sunday.”
The race ended under caution after what had been a tame race when Jimmie Johnson get loose in Turn 1 and collected Martin Truex Jr. and Kenseth on the final lap. Kurt Busch also sustained damage from being hit by Johnson.
After finishing ninth, Matt DiBenedetto will advance to and start 18th in his first career start in the Daytona 500. Because he didn’t have to fall back on his qualifying speed, this allowed teammate Robert Richardson Jr. to grab the final transfer spot into the Daytona 500.
“Being able to race in my first Daytona 500 this weekend is going to be a heck of an honor, DiBenedetto said. “I’ve dreamed of it since I was five, so I’m excited.”
Richardson also expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to participate in the Daytona 500.
“I’m very, very honored to be a part of BK Racing, having another opportunity to run here at the Daytona 500. I’ve been in it once before, but this one is very, very special to me. My wife and I welcomed our brand-new baby boy who was born in early December. Every bit of earnings we get from this race is going to go into a college fund for him. It’s just the good Lord looking down on us and blessing us. Got to give all the glory to Him.”
David Gilliland, Reed Sorenson, Cole Whitt and Josh Wise all failed to make the Daytona 500.