daytona 500 qualifying duel

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William Byron wins second Daytona 500 qualifying race

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William Byron won the second Daytona 500 qualifying race Thursday night, beating Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson.

Byron led the final three laps after he passed Kevin Harvick for the lead with help from a push by Kurt Busch.

Harvick, who led a race-high 34 laps, finished fourth. The top five was completed by rookie Cole Custer.

As the race winner, Byron will start fourth in Sunday’s Daytona 500.

“There wasn’t any Chevy orders or anything like that,” Byron told FS1. “We just did a good job of working together. Kurt was a great pusher and great helper and I really had a lot of trust in him. I was really trying to go with one to go, but I had enough momentum out of the tri-oval, just watching old races that’s kind of where the momentum lines up. I didn’t know if I’d get that same momentum once everyone started pushing with one to go.”

The win is Byron’s first of any kind in the Cup Series. He joins Jeff Gordon and Chase Elliott, his predecessors in the No. 24, in having earned their first trip to victory lane in the Cup Series in a qualifying race.

MORE: Click here for the race results.

MORE: Joey Logano wins first Daytona 500 qualifying race

Timmy Hill was the highest finishing non-chartered – or “open” – driver, placing 16th and locking himself into the Daytona 500.

The other “open” driver in the race, JJ Yeley, was eliminated in a crash with 18 laps to go.


Joey Logano wins first Daytona 500 qualifying race

AP Photo/John Raoux
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Joey Logano won the first Daytona 500 qualifying race Thursday night, beating Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski and Bubba Wallace.

Logano, who won his qualifying race for the second year in a row, came out on top after battling with Daytona 500 pole winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the closing laps. Stenhouse finished eighth.

Including last weekend’s Busch Clash, it was Logano’s second race with new crew chief Paul Wolfe.

“Obviously, it’s the duels and not the Daytona 500, but momentum is momentum,” Logano told FS1. “(Spotter) TJ Majors does such a great job up on the roof understanding the draft. Then working with this new group here, they’re not new to working together but I’m new with them, it’s just been a good partnership so far, has been pretty seamless in working out some of the kinks last week and being able come to victory lane here at Daytona.”

Click here for the race results

Reed Sorenson was the highest finishing non-chartered – or “open” – driver in 18th, locking him into the Daytona 500.

Daniel Suarez, one of the five “open” drivers trying to race their way into the 500, failed to make the race after he was eliminated in a wreck with Ryan Blaney on Lap 30. Suarez was running behind a line of Ford cars coming out of Turn 4 when the Ford cars began slowing to enter pit road.

Suarez, who didn’t know they were about to pit, checked up to his right and made contact with Blaney, resulting in the crash.

“The 2 car (Brad Keselowski) he started getting his hand out the window (to signal he was pitting) super, super late and I didn’t see him and when I started go, (Blaney) was there,” Suarez told FS1. “I’m getting tired of this.”

Suarez and Gaunt Bros Racing are attempting to run the full season despite not having a charter that guarantees them a starting spot in races.

“We should have never been in that spot in the first place,” Blaney said. “It was just an error on my part and kind of a little lack of communication that didn’t end well.”