Points were on the line Thursday night as the Gander RV Duels set the lineup for Sunday’s Daytona 500. It’s always said that one race is mellow while the other is wild. For 2019, it’s safe to say they were both mellow. Mired by more single-file racing, the only pack moves happened within the first 4 laps of a green flag run and the final lap of each race. Other than that, it was just follow-the leader.
The first race of the night saw Kevin Harvick lead the train and hang on to efforts by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Paul Menard to win the race. While it was Harvick’s 2nd win in the Daytona qualifying races, it was his crew chief Rodney Childer’s first ever restrictor plate win. The second Duel was dominated by Clint Bowyer until the last lap when 2018 champion Joey Logano orchestrated a masterful run from 4th to 1st to steal away the victory.
The biggest racing of the night was the part that arguably mattered the most. In Duel #1, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Truex, and Parker Kligerman were all racing for a spot into the Daytona 500, with Reddick already locked in on qualifying speed. Kligerman was caught in a very interesting predicament as the laps winded down. The three unchartered cars were running alone together on the track in a train led by Reddick, then Kligerman and Truex. Since Reddick was holding the transfer spot, that would allow a different team to qualify for the Daytona 500 based on their qualifying speed, which would have been Ryan Truex. In order for Kligerman to get around Reddick, he would have needed the help of Truex behind him. But because Reddick transferring would lock Truex in, it would’ve been detrimental to help Kligerman. Needless to say, Kligerman was getting desperate.
Along came Kyle Busch, who was a lap down due to an earlier spin off the front end of Jimmie Johnson (yes, again). After their spotters had a little chat, Busch offered to help if he got into the draft. Sure enough, when the time came, Kyle Busch pushed Kligerman ahead of Reddick to transfer him into the Daytona 500. “First of all, I gotta thank Kyle Busch and us linking that TRD Toyota power together.” said Parker Kligerman, “Because, without him, there’s no way I get by Reddick.” Kligerman will be running his 2nd Daytona 500. He ran it previously in 2014 but his day ended early in a wreck and finished 29th.
Ryan Truex still had a chance to make the Daytona 500 after Duel #1. It all depended on if Casey Mears could race his way in or if he would fall back on his qualifying speed. The other two cars battling for the spot were Brendan Gaughan and Joey Gase. The two were putting the “duel” in the Duel. Several straight laps of side drafting each other in close, hard racing. “I was not content to have the match race.” said Gaughan. “Joey in the Xfinity Series is one of the toughest guys to pass on the restrictor plate. He side drafted the hell out of me…I just did a man to man move and I had more motor.” He was referring to his Earnhardt-Childress engine that allowed him to slingshot around Gase and stay ahead to transfer into the big race on Sunday.
With Kligerman and Gaughan racing in, and Reddick and Mears locked in on speed, that sent drivers Ryan Truex and Joey Gase home. Tommy Baldwin Racing is set to return for another 4-6 races in 2019 but it is unclear if Ryan Truex will be returning for those races. Truex will run a part-time schedule in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports. Gase is a full-time Xfinity Series driver with MBM Motorsports in the #35 Toyota and will continue to run part-time in the #66 Cup car.
The lone incident in the Duels happened almost identically to how the Clash ended. Kyle Busch was caught in the middle of 3 wide getting around a lapped car, and Jimmie Johnson came up from under him and turned him, in an exaggerated move than what happened in the Clash with Menard. “I just got it wrong.” said 7-time champion Johnson, “With the lapped car that we were passing and three wide and trying to tuck into that hole behind Kyle. I just got it wrong. Flat out.” Busch on the other hand, was not accepting any apology, “You have to open your eyeballs and see where the (expletive) you’re going. That’s about all I can say. The (expletive) is destroyed.”
Since points were paid out like stages, minus any playoff points, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano are your current point leaders. The Daytona 500 is Sunday 2:30pm ET on FOX.
Gander RV Duel #1 Results:
* – unchartered
(i) – ineligible for points
|1||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||–|
|2||17||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||-0.165|
|3||21||Paul Menard||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford||-0.172|
|4||95||Matt DiBenedetto||Leavine Family Racing||Toyota||-0.298|
|5||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||-0.331|
|6||43||Bubba Wallace||Richard Petty Motorsports||Chevy||-0.376|
|7||37||Chris Bueshcer||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevy||-0.393|
|8||48||Jimmie Johnson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevy||-0.415|
|9||6||Ryan Newman||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||-0.516|
|10||47||Ryan Preece||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevy||-0.935|
|11||41||Daniel Suarez||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||-13.729|
|12||96*||Parker Kligerman (i)||Gaunt Brothers Racing||Toyota||-15.387|
|13||31*||Tyler Reddick (i)||Richard Childress Racing||Chevy||-15.463|
|14||71*||Ryan Truex (i)||Tommy Baldwin Racing||Chevy||-15.659|
|15||00||Landon Cassill||StarCom Racing||Chevy||-29.406|
|16||24||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevy||—|
|17||8||Daniel Hemric||Richard Childress Racing||Chevy||-1 Lap|
|18||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||-1 Lap|
|19||36||Matt Tifft||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||-1 Lap|
|20||2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford||-2 Laps|
|21||52||Cody Ware||Rick Ware Racing||Chevy||-2 Laps|
Gander RV Duel #2 Results:
* – unchartered
(i) – ineligible for points
|1||22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||–|
|2||14||Clint Bowyer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||-0.126|
|3||10||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||-0.262|
|4||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||-0.268|
|5||1||Kurt Busch||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevy||-0.378|
|6||12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Ford||-0.401|
|7||40||Jamie McMurray||Spire Motorsports||Chevy||-0.470|
|8||9||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevy||-0.516|
|9||3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevy||-0.577|
|10||13||Ty Dillon||Germain Racing||Chevy||-7.977|
|11||38||David Ragan||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||-26.661|
|12||42||Kyle Larson||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevy||-59.603|
|13||88||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevy||-1 Lap|
|14||20||Erik Jones||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||-1 Lap|
|15||62*||Brendan Gaughan (i)||Beard Oil Motorsports||Chevy||-1 Lap|
|16||32||Corey LaJoie||Go FAS Racing||Ford||-1 Lap|
|17||27*||Casey Mears||Germain Racing||Chevy||-1 Lap|
|18||34||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||-2 Laps|
|19||15||Ross Chastain (i)||Premium Motorsports||Chevy||-3 Laps|
|20||66*||Joey Gase (i)||MBM Motorsports||Toyota||-3 Laps|
|21||51||BJ McLeod (i)||Rick Ware Racing||Chevy||-3 Laps|