DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — Austin Dillon led just two laps during the second Duel on Thursday night from the Daytona International Speedway. Despite that, the second one was the most important lap.
Dillon, with a shove and drafting help from Kevin Harvick went through the top line in Turns 3-4 to shoot down low off corner exit to get below Bubba Wallace and win his first career Duel. It was the first time the No. 3 Chevrolet has won a Duel since Dale Earnhardt won his 10th straight in 2000.
“I was talking to spotter before the restart and he was like, ‘we’ve got the 4 (Harvick) behind us and he’s been pushing well all night’. He had the 12 [Ryan Blaney in a Ford, like Harvick] so I knew the manufacturer thing was going to be tough,” Dillon said.
“I made a decent block on the backstretch and just a heckuva push through three and four. I knew Bubba was going to try and block, but I just whipped the wheel and it worked out well.”
Dillon, started up front and earned his sixth straight top 10 finish in the Duels to earn what will all likely be a front row starting spot. That’s because second place qualifier William Byron was collected in the big crash on Lap 56 and badly damaged his No. 24 Chevrolet. Byron, says that they’ll have to go to a backup car, which according to the rules, they’ll have to go to the back.
As a result, Dillon would shift up alongside of Alex Bowman to the front row.
Wallace, had a really good car and finished runner-up in his No. 23 Toyota while Harvick brought his No. 4 Ford home in third. It was Harvick’s seventh straight top six result in the Duels including four straight in the top three.
“A lot of mistakes,” Wallace said after climbing out of his Toyota. “Good debut but nothing to be really happy about for myself. It’s okay for drivers to be hard on themselves, that’s how we motivate ourselves to go out there and be better.
“Hats off to my guys at 23XI for a great DoorDash Toyota Camry. I tried to do all I could to help [Martin] Truex there get Toyota a win. I appreciate Kyle [Busch] for cutting me a lot of breaks.
“I know I have a lot to learn here, but all in all it was a good night. I’ve got some learning to do.”
Kyle Busch settled for fourth in his No. 18 Toyota while Chase Elliott rounded out the top five in a wildly exciting race.
This one was similar to the first Duel in which four open drivers entered with three of them trying to race their ways in.
On Lap 35, two of those four were collected in a crash with Kaz Grala and Garrett Smithley being collected when Chase Briscoe lost his No. 14 Ford at the exit of Turn 2. Fellow rookie Anthony Alfredo spun while trying to avoid him and Grala, Smithley and BJ McLeod had no where to go.
Grala, suffered heavy damage and thought his chances of making the Daytona 500 were done.
Luckily for him, he got lucky with that crash on the 56th lap as Smithley hooked Brad Keselowski and sparked a five car crash. Gragson, was collected too and saw his night end. Smithley, had damage and fell a lap down.
It left the final overtime restart for that final spot between David Ragan and Grala. That allowed Ragan to race his way in and not have to fall back on his time. Similar situation to the first Duel to where Ryan Preece did the same. That put Austin Cindric in.
Cindric and Grala were the third and fourth fastest cars in qualifying among open cars and now they’ll make it in the field as the final two qualifiers.