Kyle Busch wins Duel 2 as Johnson, Kenseth, others wreck

The Joe Gibbs Racing cars continue to set a blistering pace at Daytona International Speedway.

After JGR’s Denny Hamlin won last weekend’s Sprint Unlimited and teammate Matt Kenseth qualified second for the Daytona 500, another JGR driver, reigning Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch, captured Thursday night’s second Can-Am Duel qualifying race as a multi-car wreck erupted in his rear-view mirror on the last lap.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the opening Duel.

"I guess it was quiet and calm there for a long time and the last lap just went kind of crazy," said Busch, who led 35 of 60 laps. "Great car. These guys at Joe Gibbs Racing do a phenomenal job this winter building some new pieces for us to come down here with and have some fun."

Big crash in Can-Am Duel 2 shakes up Daytona 500 lineup

Before Busch crossed the finish line ahead of Jamie McMurray and Kurt Busch, chaos ensued just behind when McMurray attempted to block Jimmie Johnson for second place, sending Johnson’s No. 48 car bouncing off Kurt Busch and into the path of Kenseth, AJ Allmendinger and Martin Truex Jr., whose cars were badly damaged in the melee.

"It’s a shame," said Truex, one of multiple drivers now forced to a backup car for the 500. "It’s two cars on the last lap in two races in Turn 1, so a little bit frustrating. Just going to have another decent run there, everything was looking good, the car was … I was really happy with it tonight. Just unfortunate.

"I was kind of committed to the middle toward the high side and I see the 48 (Johnson) completely sideways in front of me and I was like, ‘He’s going to hit the car on the inside and come back up the track,’ and I couldn’t get turned down below him, so just one of them deals. It’s frustrating, but it’s restrictor-plate racing."

Matt DiBenedetto and Robert Richardson Jr. transferred into the Daytona 500 as the other open drivers in Duel Two, Reed Sorensen and David Gilliland, will go home early.

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“Our car just didn’t have enough speed," said Gilliland, who finished 12th out of 22 drivers in the second qualifying race. "We kind of lost that front group and got behind and then with it going green the whole time … we had a good pit stop and got on and off pit road good, but it just wasn’t quite enough.”

Also among the disappointed in Duel 2 was Casey Mears, who is in the Daytona 500 but ran out of gas with two laps go while running second behind race winner Busch.

Kyle Busch started on the outside of Row 1 alongside polesitter Kenseth, who led the opening 23 laps before getting a piece of debris on his grille and deliberately swapping the lead with his JGR teammate.

Ryan Newman, whose car suffered damage in an incident with Michael Waltrip during Wednesday’s second practice, finished last among the 22 cars in Duel Two after heading to the garage with an engine issue after 31 laps.

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