Former DAYTONA 500 champion Joey Logano and William Byron won the Bluegreen Vacations Duel At DAYTONA races Thursday night at Daytona International Speedway, earning second-row starting positions for Sunday’s 62nd annual DAYTONA 500 (2:30 p.m. ET; TV–FOX; Radio–MRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio), the season-opening race for the NASCAR Cup Series.
Logano, the 2015 DAYTONA 500 champion and 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion, won a Duel race for the second consecutive year. He will start the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford third in the DAYTONA 500, on the inside of Row 2. Byron will start the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet fourth, alongside Logano on the second row.
Logano, with drafting help from fellow Ford driver and eventual runner-up Aric Almirola (No. 10 Smithfield Ford), got by leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet) on the last lap of the 60-lap race. And even though the biggest race of the NASCAR season is still to come, Logano was in a celebratory mood afterward.
“I get excited about winning anything,” Logano said after his first victory with new crew chief Paul Wolfe. “I’m a pretty competitive person, but winning anything at Daytona is a big deal to me.”
Byron also had some aerodynamic help down the stretch from former DAYTONA 500 and NASCAR Cup Series champions Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson, also Chevy drivers. Johnson, starting his final NASCAR season, finished 0.117 seconds back in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet and will start fourth on Sunday.
“There weren’t any Chevy orders or anything like that,” Byron said. “We just did a good job of working together.”
The DAYTONA 500 will have a 40-car field; three drivers failed to make that field – Chad Finchum, Daniel Suarez and JJ Yeley. Suarez’s chances were ruined by an accident in the first Duel race, as were Yeley’s in the second.
The Bluegreen Vacations Duel At DAYTONA, two 150-mile/60-lap races, determined starting positions 3-40 for the DAYTONA 500; the first race set the odd-number positions while the second race set even-number positions. The front row was “locked in” on Feb. 9 via DAYTONA 500 Qualifying presented by Kroger, as Stenhouse Jr. and Alex Bowman (No. 88 Valvoline Chevrolet) qualified 1-2.
Two DAYTONA 500 starting spots were up for grabs in the Duel, one per race, among those drivers not guaranteed a start. Reed Sorenson (No. 27 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet) “raced into” the DAYTONA 500 via an 18th-place finish in the first Duel race; Timmy Hill (No. 66 RoofClaim.com/VSI Racing Ford) finished 16th in the second Duel race to make the big show.
Thirty-six drivers were guaranteed to make the field, due to their teams being part of NASCAR’s charter system. Also, two drivers from “non-charter” teams, Justin Haley and Brendan Gaughan, earned their way into the field by being the two fastest non-charter drivers on qualifying day.
Earlier Thursday, the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series had two practice sessions in advance of its season-opening truck race on Friday night, the 21st annual NextEra Energy 250. Rookie Zane Smith (No. 21 ICON Vehicle Dynamics Chevrolet) led the first practice, posting a lap at 193.175 mph. Veteran Johnny Sauter (No. 13 Tenda Ford), a three-time NextEra Energy 250 winner, led the second session at 193.278.
Qualifying for the NextEra Energy 250 will roll off Friday at 3:10 p.m., with the 250-mile/100-lap race at 7:30.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series opens its season on Saturday afternoon (2:30) with the NASCAR Racing Experience 300. Practice for that race is set for Friday with two sessions.
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