Harvick, Logano lead Ford sweeps of Daytona Duels
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[February 15, 2019]
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. --
Straight-line speed in qualifying is one thing. Speed and
drivability in the draft is something quite different, as the Ford
camp proved decisively Thursday night in the Gander RV Duel at
Daytona 150-mile qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway.
Kevin Harvick led the last 44 laps to win the first Duel and secure
the third starting spot in Sunday's Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on
FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano
captured the second Duel in much more dramatic fashion, charging
from fourth to first on the final lap to beat Clint Bowyer to the
finish line by .126 seconds.
With a late pass of Tyler Reddick, who was already locked into a
place in the Daytona 500 based on qualifying speed, Parker Kligerman
earned the transfer spot into Sunday's race with a 12th-place finish
in the first Duel.
Brendan Gaughan grabbed the transfer position in the caution-free
second Duel by finishing 15th, ahead of the Open cars of Casey Mears
(who was already locked into the 500 on speed) and Joey Gase.
In Duel No. 1, Harvick finished .165 seconds ahead of fellow Ford
driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who edged Paul Menard at the line for
the runner-up position. Matt DiBenedetto ran fourth, followed by
Martin Truex Jr. and Bubba Wallace.
Aric Almirola ran third in the second Duel behind his Stewart-Haas
Racing teammate, Bowyer, giving Ford drivers the top three positions
in each of the Duels in the debut year of the Mustang in Cup racing.
It was a far cry from Sunday's time trials, when Chevrolets posted
the five best laps in single-car runs.
With two Mustangs behind him, Harvick didn't expect any outlandish
moves in the closing laps of Duel 1.
"I'm just glad we finally came out on the right side of this, and
everything's not tore up," said Harvick, who had finished fourth,
third and second in his previous three Daytona qualifying races.
The Duel victory was the first for Logano, who won the Daytona 500
in 2015. As the laps wound down, he was planning his move and got an
assist from Team Penske teammate and drafting partner Ryan Blaney.
"You have the whole race to think about making a move, and we were
all out there just waiting," Logano said. "Everyone behind me really
wanted to go, and I just knew that I had to wait. The later you can
do it, the less the risk if it doesn't work. I got a good run from
the 12 (Blaney) behind me and went to the bottom and got a good run.
"Was able to side-draft the 10 (Almirola) and pull him back and just
barely get enough to break that plane in front of the 14 (Bowyer)
and clear him up. From there I was just blocking to the finish. My
spotter, TJ (Majors), did a great job feeding me all the information
I needed to make a decision. We had a really fast Shell Pennzoil
"It's cool to see a couple Mustangs in Victory Lane already. I hope
it continues for the big race on Sunday. Great start for our race
team. Off we go."
Bowyer led 41 laps. Logano led one -- the one that counted.
A two-time Duel victor, and the winner of the 2007 Daytona 500,
Harvick will start third in Sunday's race, with Stenhouse behind him
in fifth and Menard in seventh. Logano claimed the fourth starting
position with his victory. Bowyer will take the green in sixth,
Almirola in eighth.
Neither Stenhouse nor Menard could mount an effective challenge
against Harvick in the closing laps of the first Duel.
[to top of second column]
Series driver Kevin Harvick (4) leads the field during the Gander RV
Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J.
Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
"I spent the last 25 laps trying to figure out exactly what I was
going to do," Stenhouse said. "I think Paul was trying the same
thing behind me. Paul would get a run on me out of the tri-oval. I
felt like I'd get a run on Kevin out of the back straightaway. The
21 (Menard) wasn't close enough to us, so I couldn't make a move.
Felt like I'd get stalled out.
"Tried to back my entry up to the tri-oval. I was going to try it
going into (Turn) 1. Nothing really materialized there. Down the
back straightaway, the 21 went to go to the inside. I thought about
blocking him. I felt like I could at least finish second if we
stayed on the top. I was really kind of hoping the 19 (Truex) would
have a little bit better run to get to us, maybe push us up close to
the 4 (Harvick). Just nothing really materialized."
For his part, Harvick felt his car was strong enough to keep
Stenhouse and Menard behind him.
"They were going to have to have a pretty big head of steam,"
Harvick said. "They were going to fill those holes pretty quick.
Unless they had a huge head of steam, they weren't going to clear me
without a whole line of cars, unless the whole line was going to
bail on me, which is highly possible.
"But I doubt they would have done that. I think at that particular
time, especially in the qualifying races, everybody wants to win,
but they don't want to tear up their cars either. You want to put as
little work as possible on your team, get to the race on Sunday.
There's still points on the line and a trophy. You had to be on your
toes. Our car was fast enough to guard. They got side by side. That
just slowed everything down."
In a three-wide situation on Lap 26 of the first Duel -- with Jimmie
Johnson on the inside, Kyle Busch in the middle and Reddick on the
outside -- Johnson's No. 48 Chevrolet moved up the track into the
left rear quarter panel of Busch's Toyota, sending Busch spinning
into the infield to cause the 60-lap race's only caution.
After pitting with a flat tire and exiting alone, Busch soon lost a
lap and ultimately finished 18th. However, he teamed in a two-car
draft with Kligerman, a fellow Toyota driver, to make the crucial
pass of Reddick.
"First of all, I have to thank Kyle Busch, us linking that TRD
Toyota power together," Kligerman said. "Without him, there's no way
I get by Reddick."
Daytona 500 pole winner William Byron, who did not compete in last
Sunday's Advance Auto Parts Clash, dropped to the back in the middle
of the first Duel and used the final lap for a practice pit stop
before coming home 16th, preserving his car for the top starting
spot in the Great American Race.
--By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level
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