With the Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying racing in the books, the field is now set for the 53rd running of the Daytona 500. Michael Waltrip, J.J. Yeley, Dave Blaney and Brian Keselowski earned the coveted transfer spots during Thursday's Duels and claimed the final four spots in the starting lineup. Meanwhile, victories by Kurt Busch and Richard Childress Racing's Jeff Burton made the list of potential favorites for Sunday's season opener a bit clearer.
Thanks to a combination of his victory in the first Duel and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s wreck in practice, Busch will lead the field to the green Sunday. He was winless at plate tracks entering the 2011 season, but Busch has picked up wins in the Budweiser Shootout and his Duel race in less than a week. Whether or not he continues his hot streak and wins his first points-paying plate race remains to be seen, but Busch needs to be on fantasy rosters either way.
Burton's victory in the second qualifying race was another testament to the strength of the RCR restrictor plate program. Burton's teammate Clint Bowyer finished second in the race, while Kevin Harvick led the most laps and finished third in the earlier Duel. All three will start in the top-seven Sunday. RCR drivers won three of the four plate races last season, and the organization appears ready to pick up where it left off.
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