Logano wins opening Duel at Daytona

Lesley Ann Miller/Motorsport Images

Logano wins opening Duel at Daytona


Logano wins opening Duel at Daytona


Joey Logano won a drama- and caution-free first Bluegreen Vacations Duel race Thursday night at Daytona International Speedway.

Logano led the final 29 laps and held off Christopher Bell and Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney coming to the checkered flag. Bell and Toyota ally Bubba Wallace jumped out of line in the final two laps to fight toward the front. Blaney initially jumped up in front of Bell and pushed him into second place.

But when Bell went to the outside of Logano in Turns 3 and 4, Blaney stayed on the bottom behind Logano. Logano rode the momentum of the bottom lane to the checkered flag.

“It was just a great job by the team,” Logano said. “The execution of this race is everything because you know most likely there won’t be a caution, so you’ve got to do a good job on pit road, cycle yourself to the front. But then I am sitting there as the leader, and I’m like, man, I am a sitting duck. This is not where you want to be.

“I was hoping they started racing back there, which they did, which ended up kind of working out for me. And then when the 20 [Bell] got to me, I saw Blaney was behind me, and I said, ‘That’s my buddy. I’ve got to stick with him.’ I knew the 20 would make the run to the outside, and I probably wasn’t going to be able to defend that, and just waited for the 12 [Blaney] to push me through there.

“Good Penske effort there to get a Duels win. Much better than what happened last year, so glad to have a nice start here for the season.”

Chris Buescher, and Michael McDowell rounded out the top five.

Smith was the highest-finishing open car to earn a spot in the Daytona 500 field. Sunday’s race will be Smith’s second start in the NASCAR Cup Series, and he does so in a third car for Front Row Motorsports.

“Once we got to about 10 to go, I’m like, man, please, please no caution,” Smith said. “But just a huge shout-out to my whole FRM team. Our Wellcare Mustang was good enough to get in, which there are a lot of really good open cars.

“I’m just so proud of everyone. I don’t know what life is. I had Jimmie Johnson parked behind me. I watched him all my life growing up, and he still is my idol. Just unbelievable being in the Great American Race.”

Harrison Burton finished ninth and William Byron finished 10th. There were 15 cars on the lead lap.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 16th and fell off the lead lap when he was penalized for speeding. Stenhouse was busted when making his green-flag pit stop on lap 21.

Pole-sitter Alex Bowman finished 17th after bailing out of the lead pack on the second lap to protect his Daytona 500 pole car. The No. 48 team also had to work through an ill-handling Chevrolet throughout the 60-lap event.

Chandler Smith finished 18th after being penalized for speeding on pit road. Smith’s infraction came on the same green-flag pit stop as Stenhouse’s, costing him a chance to fight for the transfer spot to make the Daytona 500.

There were three leaders and four lead changes in the first Duel race. It took 10 laps before the field became single-file and ran that way until Bell & Co. made a run for the win in the final laps.

Blaney led the most laps (30).

The victory is Logano’s third in a Daytona 500 qualifying event.

1. (3) Joey Logano, Ford, 60.
2. (11) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 60.
3. (4) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 60.
4. (7) Chris Buescher, Ford, 60.
5. (13) Michael McDowell, Ford, 60.
6. (9) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 60.
7. (6) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 60.
8. (15) Zane Smith(i), Ford, 60.
9. (5) Harrison Burton, Ford, 60.
10. (2) William Byron, Chevrolet, 60.
11. (8) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 60.
12. (14) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 60.
13. (17) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 60.
14. (12) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 60.
15. (16) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 60.
16. (18) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 59.
17. (1) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 59.
18. (21) Chandler Smith(i), Chevrolet, 59.
19. (10) Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, 59.
20. (19) Cody Ware, Ford, 59.
21. (20) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 59.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 187.63 mph.
Time of Race: 0 Hrs, 47 Mins, 58 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.018 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 0 for laps.
Lead Changes: 4 among 3 drivers.
Lap Leaders: A. Bowman 0;R. Blaney 1-5;R. Chastain 6;R. Blaney 7-31;J. Logano 32-60.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Ryan Blaney 2 times for 30 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 29 laps; Ross Chastain 1 time for 1 lap.