Daytona Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Matt Kenseth won the first race in Thursday night's Budweiser Duel and grabbed the third starting position for the Daytona 500 after beating Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne in a photo finish.
Kenseth, a two-time Daytona 500 winner, nipped Harvick to the finish line by only 0.022 seconds, while Kahne crossed the line just 0.063 seconds behind. Kenseth led 31 of 60 laps. Kenseth won the Duel and the Daytona 500 two years ago.
Harvick grabbed the lead from Kenseth as they came out of the last turn on the final lap, but Kenseth quickly moved to the outside of him and then pulled ahead for good.
Harvick had earned the fifth starting position, but his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Chevrolet failed post-race inspection. His car exceeded the maximum split on the track bar. Harvick's starting spot will be determined by qualifying speed or points provisional.
Marcos Ambrose finished fourth, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the fifth spot.
Josh Wise, Aric Almirola, A.J. Allmendinger, David Gilliland and Ryan Newman completed the top-10.
Eleventh through 15th were: Tony Stewart, rookie Cole Whitt, Greg Biffle, Danica Patrick and Alex Bowman, also a rookie this year. The top-15 finishers have locked themselves in the Daytona 500.
Stewart and Patrick had to start from the rear of the field due to engine changes. Both drivers suffered engine failure in last Saturday's qualifying practice for the Daytona 500.
Whitt and Bowman had to race their way into the Daytona 500 via the Duel. Whitt wrecked his No. 26 Toyota in Wednesday's practice. His Swan Racing teammate, Parker Kligerman, had to start in a backup car after he destroyed his primary No. 30 entry in a frightening seven-car crash on the frontstretch during practice. Kligerman finished 18th in the first Duel and will have to wait for the outcome of the second qualifier to find out if he qualified for the Daytona 500.
Austin Dillon, who won the pole position for the Daytona 500 last Sunday, finished 19th. Dillon led the first 14 laps, driving the famed No. 3 car.
Earlier in the day, Dave Blaney withdrew from the Daytona 500. Blaney was one of the seven drivers involved in the practice crash. His Randy Humphrey Racing team did not have a backup car and could not obtain one to compete in the first Duel.
02/20 21:19:43 ET