After a rainy day that washed out most of the practice sessions, the Monster Energy Cup Series drivers take to the track for The Can-Am Duel races. While the rains are gone, the wind may prove to be an issue for the drivers.
After qualifying on Sunday (February 19) Chase Elliott won the pole position with Dale Earnhardt Jr starting along side on the front row. The remainder of the field for the Daytona 500 will be set after the Duel races.
For the first time in the history of the Duel races the top 10 finishers in each race will earn points with the winner earning 10 points that will count toward the total for the “Race for the Chase”.
Each Duel race is 60 laps longs – 150 miles. The running order for the Duel races was determined after qualifying was completed. The drivers who finished with odd number will start the first race and start on the inside row for the 500; while the drivers who finished with even numbers will run in the second race and will start the 500 on the outside row. There are 42 drivers vying for 40 spots, which means two drivers will be going home and will not run in the Daytona 500.
Drivers will be towing a fine line between being aggressive and vying for position and being cautious so that they don’t mess up the car and lose position after going to a backup car.
The starting lineup for the Can-Am Duel number one:
Martin Truex Jr
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Reed Sorenson – moved to the back of the field for a transmission change
Since practice was rained out, NASCAR has called for a competition caution on lap 25. Drivers may come down pit road for service but cannot fuel their cars until the competition caution.
Chase Elliott brings the field down for the green flag a 7:19 and is immediately challenged by second place driver Brad Keselowski. The two drivers swap the lead with Brad Keselowski taking the lead in lap two.
On lap five Brad Keselowski has a tenth of a second lead over second place driver Kyle Busch.
On lap eight Kyle Busch challenges Brad Keselowski for the lead but Keselowsi holds on to the lead of the race.
On lap eleven Keselowski and Kevin Harvick swap the lead a few times but Keselowski holds on to the lead.
Joey Logano makes a pit stop with a vibration – he has a loose right front tire – and goes a lap down.
On lap 16 Keselowski is still leading the race.
On lap 18 Jamie McMurray challenges Keselowski but Keselowski maintains the lead.
On lap 22 Keselowski leads the race by nearly a quarter of a second.
On lap 24 Kyle Busch challenges Keselowski for the lead. The drivers swap the lead for a few laps with Kyle Busch in the lead by a hundredth of a second at the competition caution. Joey Logano gets the “lucky dog” and is back on the lead lap.
The caution laps count toward the total of 60 laps.
After taking only fuel, Kyle Busch leads the race off of pit road.
Kyle Busch brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 31 and pulls out in front of the field to lead the race but loses the lead to Brad Keselowski before the lap is completed.
On lap 37 Chase Elliott passes Brad Keselowski for the lead. Several cars bump each other but there is no wreck.
On lap 42 Elliott makes a quick lane change and moves to block Keselowski from leading the race.
With 12 laps remaining in the race, Reed Sorenson hits the wall head on and brings out the second caution flag of the race after making contact with Corey LaJoie. Sorenson walks away from the wreck. Paul Menard is also involved.
Paul Menard comes down pit road for repairs. Under the new crash rules, Menard’s team has five minutes to make repairs on pit road – only six crew members are allowed over the wall. If a driver cannot make the minimum speed, they are out of the race.
Kyle Busch comes down pit road for tires.
On lap 52 Elliott brings the field down for the green flag restart and holds on to the lead of the race.
Chase Elliott takes the white flag.
Chase Elliott takes the checkered flag to win the race…and earn 10 championship points. He becomes the youngest driver to win a Duel race.
The results of the Can-Am Duel race number one:
Martin Truex Jr
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
The starting lineup for the Can-Am Duel number 2:
Dale Earnhardt Jr
Michael Waltrip – to the rear of the field for a transmission change
Dale Earnhardt Jr brings the field down for the green flag at 8:51 and pulls out in front of the field.
On lap two Denny Hamlin challenges Dale Jr for the lead. The two drivers swap the lead for a few laps with Hamlin eventually taking the lead.
On lap five Dale Jr retakes the lead and the two drivers continue to swap places.
On lap six Dale Jr retakes the lead of the race
On lap 10 Dale Jr leads by a tenth.
On lap 14 Dale Jr is still in front of the field.
On lap 20 Dale Jr is riding the high line with a long train of cars behind him. Only four drivers are on the bottom of the track.
When the competition caution comes out on lap 25, Dale Jr is leading the race. He has led 23 of the 25 laps run so far. Nephew Jeffrey Earnhardt is one of two cars a lap down and gets the “lucky dog”.
After taking only fuel, Ryan Blaney is the first driver off of pit road. Michael Waltrip had to make two trips down pit road after not being able to get into his pit box on the first try.
Denny Hamlin is penalized to driving through too many pit boxes on exit and will have to restart the race from the back of the field.
Ryan Blaney brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 31 and is challenged by Dale Jr for the lead. Dale Jr is again back on front.
Timmy Hill comes down pit road. Kasey Kahne gets loose but there is no wreck.
On lap 34 Blaney challenges Dale Jr for the lead but Jr stays out in front.
On lap 35 Kyle Larson gives Dale Jr a challenge but fails to take the lead.
On lap 37 Denny Hamlin has worked his way back into the top 10 after his penalty.
On lap 41 Dale Jr is still the leader of the race.
On lap 43 Ryan Blaney’s car is smoking after making contact with another driver. He comes down pit road and is on the five minute clock. Erik Jones and Jimmie Johnson also sustained damage to their cars that require repairs on pit road.
Jimmy Johnson brings out the second caution flag of the race on lap 47 and is on the five minute clock. Erik Jones gets the “lucky dog”.
Timmy Hill is out of the race with engine issues and will not make the Daytona 500.
Dale Jr brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 51 and pulls ut in front of the field.
With three laps to go Dale Jr is still out in front.
With only two laps to go, Denny Hamlin sets up a pass and takes the lead from Dale Jr.
Denny Hamlin takes the white flag.
Defending Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin wins Duel number two. After leading most of the race, Dale Jr finishes the race in sixth place.
The results of the Can-Am Duel race number two:
Dale Earnhardt Jr
With Mexican born Daniel Suarez and Canadian DJ Kennington, the Daytona 500 will be an international race when the green flag drops on February 26.
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