Budweiser Duel 2014 results: Matt Kenseth dominates first heat

Jed Jacobsohn

Always strong at Daytona International Speedway, Kenseth led more than half the laps en route to victory.

Race 1 of the Budweiser Duel under the lights at Daytona International Speedway is in the books. Here's what happened and what you need to know.

What did we learn?

Matt Kenseth looks good -- very good. The 2009 and 2012 Daytona 500 winner again put on a strong performance during the first heat of the Budweiser Duel, leading 31 of 60 laps and holding off a late charge from Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne for the victory. Considering Kenseth led the most laps in the Daytona 500 last year before engine problems sidelined him, he ought to be considered among the favorites to win this year's race.

Did Austin Dillon play it safe?

All Dillon has to do to keep the No. 3 car on the pole at the Daytona 500 is avoid any major incidents between now and Sunday. Dillon led initially, and in fact led 14 laps for the race. But once the field started fanning out and racing three-wide, the rookie wisely dropped back to save his car for the race that matters. He finished 19th.

How did Dale Earnhardt Jr. do?

Dale Jr. finished fifth after leading 14 laps earlier in the race. He had an issue getting on pit road locking up his tires and complained of vibration afterward, but settled in after that.

How'd Danica Patrick do?

Danica is a long way from qualifying for the pole in 2014, but she did race her way into the Daytona 500 with a 14th place finish.

Who raced into the Daytona 500

Josh Wise finished a surprising sixth to make the Daytona 500. Cole Whitt finished 12th. What makes Whitt's story even more remarkable is that he was involved in the crash during practice on Wednesday. His team worked overnight to repair the right side of the car to prepare it for the race. Alex Bowman finished 15th, taking the final transfer spot and punching his first ticket into the Great American Race. Ricky Stenhouse finished 20th, but made it based on his qualifying speed Sunday.

Who missed the Daytona 500

Michael McDowell needed to race his way in, but finished 22nd. Parker Kilgerman, who rode upside down on his roof during Wednesday's crash, was safely inside the top 15 on the last lap before having some sort of engine troubles with his backup car. He finished 18th and will have to see how the second duel goes.

Any wrecks?

Nope. It was a clean race throughout.

Results

1. Matt Kenseth

2. Kevin Harvick

3. Kasey Kahne

4. Marcos Ambrose

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr

6. Josh Wise

7. Aric Almirola

8. AJ Allmendinger

9. David Gilliland

10. Ryan Newman

11. Tony Stewart

12. Cole Whitt

13. Greg Biffle

14. Danica Patrick

15. Alex Bowman

16. Brian Vickers

17. Joey Logano

18. Parker Kligerman

19. Austin Dillon

20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

21. Kyle Busch

22. Michael McDowell

23. Joe Nemechek

24. Reed Sorenson

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