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Originally published Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 8:50 PM

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Harvick, Busch win qualifying races

There are two certainties heading into the Daytona 500: Kevin Harvick is the favorite, and no one is sure what the action will look like...

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — There are two certainties heading into the Daytona 500: Kevin Harvick is the favorite, and no one is sure what the action will look like in the "Great American Race."

Harvick remained perfect through Speedweeks on Thursday by winning the first of two 150-mile Budweiser Duel qualifying races, and the victory has positioned him as the top pick to win NASCAR's version of the Super Bowl.

Being labeled the favorite is the last thing the 2007 Daytona 500 winner wanted headed into Sunday's season-opening race.

"We like to be the lame-duck underdog. That's what we're shooting for," Harvick said.

Harvick is a perfect 2 for 2 at Daytona International Speedway. He also won an exhibition race last weekend.

Nobody is quite sure what the 500 will look like with NASCAR's new Gen-6 race car. Sunday's race will go off with a full 43-car field, double the amount of cars that ran in each qualifying race. There were 19 cars in last Saturday's exhibition.

Kyle Busch, winner of the second duel, believes more cars on the track will create a much different race than what fans have seen so far.

Busch gave Toyota its first victory of Speedweeks and snapped Chevrolet's dominance. Harvick took the new Chevrolet SS to victory lane twice, and Danica Patrick put it on the Daytona 500 pole in time trials.

Busch held off Enumclaw's Kasey Kahne, in a Chevrolet. In the first race, Harvick held off Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., over a four-lap sprint to win. Harvick and Biffle also went 1-2 in last Saturday's exhibition race.

The starting field for the Daytona 500 is set by the results from the pair of 60-lap qualifiers, but Patrick held onto the pole by running a safe race in the first qualifier. The first woman to win a pole at NASCAR's top level, she started first in the first qualifier, raced a bit early, then faded back to finish 17th.

Biffle will start fifth in the 500 and Kahne will start sixth.

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