Bluegreen Vacations Duel in Daytona 1
Logano did what he does best in these races. He got to the front and managed the draft masterfully.
Of course it didn’t hurt matters any that fellow Ford driver Aric Almirola locked onto his back bumper and stayed disciplined in the draft. It is just that kind of patience from Almirola that caused us to name him one of our Four Driver to Watch this week. Last year he finished in the top 10 in three of the four aero-restricted superspeedway races; his one dissenting result came in the 500.
Ryan Newman rounded out the top three in Duel No. 1 and will line up seventh for Sunday’s race.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had everything to lose. He knew he would lead the field to green Sunday based on his time trial speed – unless he crashed in prelims and had to roll out a backup car. Stenhouse chose not to pull off the track early and learned a lot about his car. He spent time leading Chase Elliott and pushing Austin Dillon. Stenhouse finished eighth.
Rookie Christopher Bell scored a respectable ninth-place finish.
Reed Sorenson locked into the Daytona 500 when Justin Haley raced his way into the show. Haley was the fastest among the non-chartered team last Sunday, but if he took the grid due to his time, he would have to drop to the back of the pack. He will choose to take his position based on finishing 17th, which opens up a slot for the third-fastest driver among the non-charted teams. Haley will start the Daytona 500 in 33rd; Sorenson in 40th.
Daniel Suarez was the highest running non-chartered driver during green flag conditions before the pit sequence. He was in a good position to advance until the Ford drivers pitted en masse and seemed to come to that decision late out of Turns 3 & 4. Suarez swerved into the side of Ryan Blaney to avoid a rapidly slowing Brad Keselowski. The No. 96 got turned into the wall. Suarez crashed and failed to finish – and he failed to advance into the 500.
Chad Finchum finished 20th and also failed to advance to the Daytona 500.
Bluegreen Vacations Duel in Daytona 2
William Byron timed his run correctly and won his first Duel in Daytona win. Race 2 sets the lineup for the outside row, so Byron will start Sunday’s race fourth. He is accustomed to running with the leaders because he led the field to green in last year’s race after winning the pole in time trials.
The downside of his pole winning run in 2019 was that he really did not get much of an opportunity to race in his Duel (since he was protecting his car) and might not have been prepared for what he faced in the big show. Ultimately Byron was eliminated with crash damage last year and finished 21st.
While Byron did his job, the result might not have been the same if the drafting pack behind him stayed disciplined.
Chevrolet drivers Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, and Kyle Larson ganged up on Ford’s Kevin Harvick. The driver of the No. 4 dominated much of the final run and was not going to go easy. He stayed in contention as long as possible and got shuffled out only when he was knocked below the yellow line by Busch.
In the outside line, Johnson survived to finish second with Larson third.
Harvick finished fourth.
Rookie Cole Custer rounded out the top five and gets to start the Daytona 500 in the 12th position. That is the highest among the rookie contenders.
“It’s all about agendas” was the reason given for Kyle Busch’s decision to drop back in the back in the first 15 laps. It didn’t take long for him to driver back up into the top five, so he knows how to advance. Unfortunately Busch got a little impatient in the closing laps of his Duel and slipped to 13th. He will line up 28th on the grid.
JJ Yeley was eliminated in the only accident in the race. He got tipped into the wall on Lap 42 by Corey LaJoie. That opened the door for Timmy Hill, who knew he would either qualify via his time from Sunday or race his way in. Hill finished 16th in the race and will line up 32nd.
Notably two of the three drivers who will miss the 500 are scheduled to run the entire season: Suarez with the Gaunt Brothers and Yeley is Rick Ware’s fulltime driver.
Seven drivers will make their first Daytona 500 start this week. They are Custer (12th), Christopher Bell (17th), John Hunter Nemechek (23rd), Hill (32nd), Justin Haley (33rd), Brennan Poole (34th), and Quin Houff (35th).
Daytona 500 Cheat Sheet
Fantasy Live Preview
Daytona 500 Qualification Report
Bluegreen Vacations 150, Clash Practice Report
Four to Watch: Ty Dillon
Four to Watch: Ryan Newman
Four to Watch: Aric Almirola
Accident Waiting to Happen: Superspeedway success