DAYTONA, Fla. -- Kevin Harvick is leaving no doubt that he is going to leave Richard Childress Racing in grand style.
Harvick, who has already signed a contract to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014 and beyond, held off Greg Biffle for a second straight time to win the first of the Budweiser Duels at Daytona on Thursday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.
Harvick and Biffle also finished 1-2 in the Sprint Unlimited race last Saturday night.
"Pretty good for a lame-duck team," Harvick said after his victory in the Unlimited, and the same comment certainly summed up the first of the two 150-mile qualifying races.
Danica Patrick, the first woman to win the pole position for the Daytona 500, was in the wrong line from the start as it became quickly apparent that the outside line "was the way to go," admitted Patrick. "I was freight-trained from the start," she added after dropping all the way to 22nd by lap 10.
Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner, led the first lap and stayed out front for the first 35 laps before Harvick showed that the inside line can be just as strong as he pulled alongside Bayne as they raced off of turn four. Harvick grabbed the lead by the first turn and led the rest of the way in the 60-lap event.
But things really got exciting in the last eight laps after Denny Hamlin got loose and spun into Carl Edwards as they raced off the second turn. Bayne and Regan Smith were also involved in the four-car accident that brought out the first and only caution flag.
For the restart with four laps to go, Harvick took the outside line with Biffle, Martin Truex, Jr., Jimmie Johnson lined up behind him.
Harvick and Biffle raced side-by-side for over a lap before Harvick grabbed sole control of the top spot.
At the same time, Juan Pablo Montoya was making it three wide behind the front duo as he rallied after experiencing right-front tire problems during the yellow flag.
Montoya made it all the way to third as he and Johnson crossed the finish line side-by-side with Montoya earning the third spot followed by Johnson and Kurt Busch.
Patrick ended up `17th.