Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano won their duels on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, ahead of the Daytona 500. The two races gave the winners a spot in the second row of the Daytona 500, behind William Byron and Alex Bowman, who earned their spots last Sunday through the qualifying. The races determined the placing of most drivers in the Daytona 500, with the first races giving drivers a spot in the inside lane of the grid, and the second race for the outside lane.
In the first duel, Kevin Harvick held onto his spot after positions shifted during pit stops from laps 11 to 15. The race had a pause in it when Kyle Busch got into an incident with Jimmie Johnson. “It felt like our cars have been driving good in practice and it felt like my car drove good tonight,” said Harvick after the race. Busch spun on the main straight, suffering damage but not hitting any walls. Johnson found himself involved in a similar incident on the last green flag lap on Sunday during the Daytona Clash race.
Joey Logano won his race with a last lap pass, overtaking Bowyer for the lead. Along with his change of lead, Aric Almirola got up to third, making Denny Hamlin go from second to fourth. The race was green throughout, with pitting starting on lap 13, which is when leaders Alex Bowman and Chase Elliott left the head of the field.
Brendan Gaughan confirmed his seat for the Daytona 500 through the second race. “We had to do it the hard way, but like I said I don’t want to do it the hard way again,” said Gaughan when reflecting on the race. Parker Kligerman also solidified his slot in the Daytona 500 because of the first race.
The Daytona 500 takes place on Sunday, with NASCAR’s feeder leagues having their season-opening races on Friday and Saturday.