Gander RV Duel Races Go to Harvick and Logano

Gander RV Duel Winners, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano at Daytona International Speedway Photos – Getty Images

The Thursday night duel races sponsored by Gander RV set the qualifying order for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ 61st annual Daytona 500. It was a great night for racing as both duel races set the tone for Sunday’s big event at Daytona International Speedway. The first duel set the starting lineup for the inside lane, as the second duel set the qualifying order for the outside lane.

Duel 1 started off with William Byron starting on the pole in the No. 24 car since he was the fastest in last Sunday’s qualifying. Byron shot out front as everyone soon filed in behind him. Around lap 11 half the field came in for green flag stops. Four laps later the other half came in for servicing. This was a strategy played by all teams to survive the rest of the race on fuel. Brad Keselowski suffered a penalty for pitting outside his box, and Tyler Reddick also missed his pit box coming down pit road.

On lap 27, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson created contact which turned Busch around as he was basically taken out of contention for a solid finish after losing his momentum in the wreck. Kevin Harvick led the race coming back to the restart and never looked back. The pole sitter for the race, William Byron, fell out of the draft to save his car for Sunday’s race. Harvick ended up winning the first duel with a tame finish by Daytona standards. He will start in the third position with the other Duel 1 contenders starting behind him in the bottom lane.

In the second duel, Alex Bowman was pushed out to the lead. Everyone else fell in behind him. Just like the first duel, at lap thirteen half the field came in for servicing. One lap later, the other half of the field did the same. After the green flag stops, Clint Bowyer claimed the race lead.

The race ran under green flag for its entirety. Clint Bowyer held his controlling lead as everyone else followed him around Daytona. The first duel race of the night had a tame finish. However, this duel came down to the last lap. While Chase Elliott and Austin Dillion were trying to make the bottom line flow again, Joey Logano made his move on the last lap from the third position by driving his No. 22 to the bottom of the track. This time the bottom line received some help and Logano had other drivers following his lead. Logano made his move in turn one and held on until the checkered flag. Everyone else finishing behind him set the order for the outside row in Sunday’s race.

With the field of the Daytona 500 set, it will be interesting to see how the big race unfolds. Last night’s duel races were relatively tame with only twenty cars in each race. Both races resorted to single file racing quickly. With all forty cars running in Sunday’s race, certainly there will plenty of action to go around.