The engines have been quiet for the past three months, but tonight NASCAR drivers, “feel the need for speed,” when they take to the track at Daytona International Speedway for the Can Am Duel races that lead up to the Daytona 500 on February 18.
Last Sunday – February 11 – the Monster Energy Cup Series drivers made singe car qualifying runs for the front row of The 500 with Cup newcomer Alex Bowman sitting on the pole in the number 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Denny Hamlin put his number eleven Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota alongside Bowman on the front row.
Tonight, the drivers will race to determine the remaining 38 starting spots for The 500.
The Duels are 60 lap 150 mile races with the odd numbered drivers after the qualifying run in race one and the even number drivers in the second race. Each race will feature 20 drivers each to make up the 40 car field.
By the end of the night, the field will be set for The Great American Race.
The drivers running in race number one:
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
Darrell Wallace Jr
Taking the outside lane, Alex Bowman brings the field down for the green flag start of the race but Jimmie Johnson gets out in front as Bowman backs up in the field. Joey Logano passes Johnson to lead the first lap of the race.
Knowing that he will start on the pole no matter where he finishes the Duel race, Alex Bowman moves to the back of the field. The only way Bowman will not start on the pole is if he wrecks the car and has to move to a backup car.
Lap six Joey Logano continues to lead the race with team mates Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski behind him.
On lap eight Jimmie Johnson drops out of the pack and spins out after apparently blowing a tire. Aric Almirola is also involved in the wreck. Both drivers are out of the race.
Some drivers bring their cars down pit road for service. After taking fuel only, Joey Logano wins the race off of pit road. Ryan Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, and Brad Keselowski also took fuel only.
There is a lot of debris to be cleaned up after the crash.
On lap 15 Joey Logano brings the field down for the green flag restart and holds on to the lead of the race with Ricky Stenhouse in second and Ryan Blaney in third.
Lap 18 Joey Logano continues to lead the race.
Ryan Newman has a broken pipe on his 31 car and is flopping around.
Lap 21 Joey Logano holds on to the lead of the race by a tenth of a second on Ryan Blaney; Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, and Bubba Wallace round out the top five.
Alex Bowman continues to run at the back of the field to help protect his pole sitting car.
Lap 25 Joey Logano continues to hold on to the lead of the race by a tenth of a second on Ryan Blaney.
Halfway – lap 30 – Joey Logano continues to hold on to the lead of the race with Ryan Blaney in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Ryan Newman in fourth, and Bubba Wallace in fifth. Chris Buescher, Jamie McMurray, Daniel Suarez, William Byron, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr round out the top 10.
Lap 35, the top five remains the same with Joey Logano leading the field.
Lap 39 the second caution flag of the race comes out when Ricky Stenhouse gets William Byron loose and Byron gets turned around.
Seven of the drivers stayed out on the field, but the remainder came down pit road for fresh tires and fuel.
Lap 43, Joey Logano brings the field down for the green flag restart and pulls out in front of the field for the lead as the drivers shuffle for position behind him.
Lap 46 Brendan Gaughan makes a green flag pit stop.
Lap 48 David Gilliland brings out the third caution flag of the race when he get loose and hits the wall after Ricky Stenhouse Jr pulls down on the track and gets Gilliland loose.
Only a few drivers at the back of the field come down pit road for service.
Joye Logano brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 51 and holds on to the lead.
Six to go; Joey Logano is in the lead with Ryan Blaney is second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jamie McMurray in fourth, and Bubba Wallace in fifth.
Four to go and Ricky Stenhouse again drops down to the bottom of the track trying to move up in the field. Joey Logano continues to lead the race.
Three to go and Ryan Blaney challenges Joey Logano for the lead but Logano holds on as Brad Keselowski brings out the fourth caution of the race with only three laps to go when he spins out after making contact with Jamie McMurray.The Clash winner is out of the race and will have to go to a backup car for The 500.
With the crash so close to the end of regulation, the race will go into overtime. Some of the drivers have not been on pit road for fuel since lap eleven.
In overtime, once the leader of the race takes the white flag under green flag conditions, the next flag ends the race.
Ryan Blaney brings the field down for the green flag restart with Ryan Blaney holding on to the lead and Bubba Wallace in second but gets passed by Joey Logano to take over second. Some drivers are getting three wide behind the leader.
Ryan Blaney takes the white flag.
Ryan Blaney wins the race with Joey Logano taking second and Bubba Wallace in third. Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Kurt Busch round out the top five.
The results of Duel race number one:
Darrell Wallace Jr
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
The drivers starting in Duel 2:
Martin Truex Jr
Denny Hamlin brings the field down for the green flag and pulls out in front for the lead of the race with Kyle Busch in second. Drivers further back in the field are already making moves for position.
Denny Hamlin leads the first lap.
Unlike Alex Bowman, Denny Hamlin is staying out front and going for the win for the second year in a row.
Lap four Denny Hamlin has a tenth of a second lead on Kyle Busch with the field in single file.
Lap seven Denny Hamlin is out in front with Kyle Busch in second, Erik Jones in third, Chase Elliott in fourth, and Kevin Harvick in fifth.
Lap eight the drivers are beginning to form two lines with Paul Menard leading the way on the inside lane.
Denny Hamlin has some debris on his grille but continues to lead the race on lap 10.
Lap eleven Denny Hamlin continues to lead the race with Paul Menard in second, Kyle Busch in third, Kevin Harvick in fourth, and Erik Jones rounding out the top five.
Lap 12 the first caution flag comes out when Erik Jones gets spun out after Chase Elliott got close to his back bumper and got Jones loose. Kyle Larson and Matt DiBenedetto were also involved in the crash.
Drivers bring their cars down pit road for service. Chase Elliott was penalized when a crew member came over the wall too soon. Kevin Harvick wins the race off of pit road.
Kevin Harvick brings the field down for the green flag restart and gets out in front of the field for the lead of the race. Denny Hamlin is in second.
On lap 16 Denny Hamlin challenges Kevin Harvick for the lead and the two drivers swap the lead throughout the lap and beyond.
On lap 18 Kevin Harvick finally pulls out in front of Denny Hamlin from the inside lane to hold on to the lead..
Lap 20 Kevin Harvick has a tenth of a second lead on Paul Menard with Denny Hamlin in third and Michael McDowell in fourth and Martin Truex Jr rounding out the top five.
Michael McDowell is stuck in the middle.
With the new rules package, many of the drivers have had issues with handling their cars.
Lap 27 Denny Hamlin has retaken the lead of the race but Chase Elliot passes Hamlin for the lead. The two drivers are swapping the lead back and forth. Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, and AJ Allmendinger round out the top five.
Lap 29 Chase Elliott is in the lead with Denny Hamlin in second.
Halfway – lap 30 – Chase Elliott – the lone Hendrick Motorsports car in this race – is in the lead with Denny Hamlin in second; Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, and AJ Allmendinger round out the top five.
Lap 34 Chase Elliott continues to lead the race by a tenth of a second over Denny Hamlin.
DJ Kennington, Gray Gaulding, and Mark Thompson are laps down.
Lap 38 Corey LaJoie is also a lap down. Chase Elliott continues to lead the race.
Lap 41 Chase Elliott holds on to the lead with Denny Hamlin in second, Kevin Harvick in third, Clint Bowyer in fourth and Paul Menard in fifth.
Lap 46 Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott swap the lead briefly but Elliott holds off Hamlin to hold on to the lead.
Leader Chase Elliott is reaching speeds of 200mph on the track. His Dad Bill Elliott holds the record for the fastest lap at Daytona at over 210 mph…the reason the races are now run with restrictor plates.
Ten to go and Chase Elliott holds on to the lead of the race with Denny Hamlin in second. Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, and Paul Menard round out the top five.
Seven laps to go, Chase Elliott holds on to the lead of the race by less than a tenth of a second on Denny Hamlin.
Lap 54 Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott swap the lead but Elliott holds on to the lead.
With five laps to go the cars are single file with Chase Elliott in the lead.
Three to go, Case Elliott continues to lead the race.
Chase Elliott takes the white flag.
Chase Elliott wins Duel number two! It is Elliott’s second Duel win, his father Bill has won four Duel races.
The results of Duel number 2:
Martin Truex Jr