Austin Dillon triumphs in second Duel thriller

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Austin Dillon triumphs in second Duel thriller

NASCAR

Austin Dillon triumphs in second Duel thriller

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Austin Dillon captured the second Bluegreen Vacations Duel race win at Daytona after a frantic final lap.

Martin Truex Jr. led at the white flag, but was split down the backstretch when Kyle Busch pushed Darrell Wallace Jr. forward as Dillon was pushed in the far outside lane by Kevin Harvick. Wallace was briefly clear of the field, but another shove from Harvick gave Dillon the momentum to swing inside Wallace coming into the tri-oval and beat him across the finish line.

It is Dillon’s first win in a Duel event, and the first for Richard Childress Racing since 2000.

“I was talking to my spotter before the restart about having the 4 (Harvick) behind me, and he’d been pushing well all night,” said Dillon. “But he had the 12 (Ryan Blaney), so I knew the manufacturer thing was going to be tough, and I made a decent block there on the backstretch and just a heck of a push through (Turns) 3 and 4. And I knew Bubba was going to try and block it, but it just whipped the wheel, and it worked out well.”

Wallace finished second, Harvick was third, and Kyle Busch finished fourth. Completing the top five was Chase Elliott.

Ryan Blaney wound up sixth, with Corey LaJoie seventh, David Ragan eighth, Kurt Busch ninth, and Chris Buescher rounding out the top 10. Ragan and Front Row Motorsports was the highest-finishing open team, racing their way into the Daytona 500.

Ragan not using his qualifying speed to advance into Sunday’s race helped Kaz Grala clinch a spot with Kaulig Racing. Grala finished 14th in a beat-up race car after being collected in an accident with Anthony Alfredo and B.J. McLeod when Chase Briscoe spun off Turn 2 on lap 36.

Grala puts team owner Matt Kaulig in the Daytona 500 for the second consecutive season. It will be Grala’s second career start in the Cup Series.

Grala received the free pass and was back in contention when a caution flew on lap 58. The accident was triggered by contact between Garrett Smithley, another driver trying to race his way into the Daytona 500, and Brad Keselowski. It also collected William Byron and Noah Gragson

Gragson was knocked out of the race in the accident. He will not transfer into the Daytona 500, and it is the first time since Beard Motorsports began attempting Cup Series races that the team will not compete in the event.

Smithley fell off the lead lap and didn’t factor into the finish. The accident sent the race into overtime, and Truex and Wallace led the field to the restart.

Byron led the most laps in the rain-delayed race, which ended early Friday morning. Byron led 34 of 63 laps. Harvick led 11. In his win, Dillon led two laps.

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