Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin Win NASCAR Duels at Daytona
Reigning champ Jimmie Johnson’s struggles continue.
He may already have the pole for Sunday’s Daytona 500, but Chase Elliott proved yet again that his 24 Hendrick Chevrolet is the car to beat in last night’s first of two Can-Am Duels at Daytona.
The 21-year-old son of two-time Daytona 500 winner Bill Elliott re-took the lead of the race with just over 20 laps to go and held off far more experienced chargers like Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray to take the victory. The win makes Elliott only the third driver in NASCAR history to win both the pole for the Daytona 500 and a Duel in the same season.
In the second Duel, last year’s Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin took the victory after much of the race was dominated by returning Hendrick Motorsports driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt, who missed 18 races last year after suffering a concussion, led 53 laps of the 60-lap race before Hamlin’s late surge. However, despite losing the victory, Earnhardt will still line up second on the grid for Sunday’s 500 as the top two spots are determined by qualifying speed, not the Duels. Winner Hamlin will start fourth.
Earnhardt’s Hendrick teammate, and reigning champion, Jimmie Johnson’s poor luck has continued at Daytona. After being involved in two separate incidents in last weekend’s Clash, a race he has failed to finish six years running, Johnson suffered a blown tire in the second Duel. The 48 car ended up with major bodywork damage on its right side, but Johnson still managed to pull off a 13th place finish.
Johnson, Ryan Blaney and Paul Menard will all be switching to backup cars for Sunday’s race after suffering damage. In addition, they will have to start at the back of the field alongside AJ Allmendinger, Martin Truex Jr. and Chris Buescher, who all failed postrace tech.
Four drivers tried to race their way into Sunday's Daytona 500, though only two would make it to the big show. Those two spots went to D.J. Kennington, who will roll-off 30th, and Corey LaJoie in 35th.
You can catch the Daytona 500 live on Fox on Sunday with the race coverage starting at 2 p.m. Eastern and prerace festivities at 1 p.m.
Full starting grid
1. Chase Elliott