Daytona Duel 2: Rapid reaction

ByBrant James Via <a Href="" Title="espn" Class="espn_sc_byline">espn </a>
February 20, 2014, 10:22 PM

&#151; -- DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Thoughts on the second of the twin qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway:

What it means -- Joe Gibbs Racing might have something for Richard Childress Racing after all as Denny Hamlin followed Matt Kenseth's win in the first duel with a victory in the second. The RCR contingent was fast in qualifying -- with rookie Austin Dillon winning the pole -- but JGR has taken the trophies so far.

Stock watch -- The Denny Hamlin comeback tour continued with a win in the second duel. He missed four races and the Chase for the Sprint Cup last year after breaking vertebrae in his back in a crash at Fontana, Calif., but burst into the offseason by winning the last race of the 2013 season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He maintained his momentum by winning the non-points Sprint Unlimited exhibition to begin Speedweeks.

Key move -- Brad Keselowski led through the early stretches of the race before he was ruled to have sped on pit road during a two-tire stop. He flat-spotted his tires attempting to brake at the commitment line while serving his pass-through penalty, then suffered a blowout that forced him to pit again, dropping him to last, three laps down.

Who's in -- Kurt Busch was assured a spot in the Daytona 500 before his duel began with a past champion's provisional, but a third-place finish sends him into Sunday feeling more like he earned it himself. ... 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne had to race his way in and did just that, finishing sixth.

Who's out -- Joe Nemechek, Dave Blaney (who withdrew after wrecking his only car in practice), Michael McDowell, Ryan Truex and Eric McClure failed to qualify.

Car vs. bike -- Landon Cassill finished ninth in the No. 40 Chevrolet to qualify for underfunded Hillman Racing. Qualifying helped take the sting out of a rough week for Cassill, who was struck by a car while riding his bike, bruising his face badly and leaving him with road rash on his legs.

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