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Elliott And Hamlin Race To Duel Victories At Daytona
- Updated: February 24, 2017
Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. lead a pack of cars during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Can-Am Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway. [Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images]
By Joe Jennings
DAYTONA BEACH – Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin won their respective Can-Am Duel races at the Daytona International Speedway on Thursday night.
For Elliott, he won his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race and became the youngest driver to win a Duel race, succeeding Jeff Gordon in that category. Elliott became the first driver since 1996 to win the Daytona 500 pole and a Duel in the same year.
Bouncing back from a pit-road penalty, Hamlin got a huge push from Austin Dillon to capture Duel 2, passing race dominant driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 2 laps to go for the victory.
“I got a great push from Austin and I will keep that in mind for the 500,” commented Hamlin, who drove the FedEx Express Toyota to his third Duel win. “I can’t thank my team enough. I signed a renewal today with FedEx, and I hope it is a great sign of things to come.”
Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, A. J. Allmendinger, Dillon, Earnhardt, Danica Patrick, Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson and Ty Dillon finished behind Hamlin.
Jimmie Johnson ended up 13th after getting into a scrape with Ryan Blaney.
Qualifying for the Daytona 500 was Canadian D. J. Kennington, who gained his position by 4/100ths of a second.
“This is one of the biggest moments of my life,” Kennington said. “I am with a small team and thanks to a lot of people that helped me. Coming off (turn) 4 I wasn’t in the race and here I am. I have never driven one of these cars here and I have a lot to learn.”
Earnhardt led 53 of the 60 laps but knew he was a sitting duck as the race wound down. Overall he was pleased with his comeback race.
Said the joyful Elliott, “This is a great way to start the season. I know this is just a Duel win, but it means a lot to me. I had some team under my hood, which was a huge factor in keeping me out front. I am glad were able to race and stay aggressive with those guys. I hope I have a shot on Sunday.”
Finishing behind Elliott in the NAPA Chevrolet were Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola, Joey Logano and Cole Whitt.
Keselowski led the most laps at 28 to 25 for Elliott.
Rookie Corey LaJoie, taking his first-ever Cup laps, finished 18th to make the Daytona 500 starting field.
In Duel 1, Reed Sorenson and LaJoie, battling for a berth in the Daytona 500 starting field, came together with the former slamming the inner wall at high speed. His wreck paralleled that of Kyle Busch two years ago with a different outcome as a SAFER barrier saved him from injury.
LaJoie admitted he knew Sorenson would be mad at him but he did what he had to qualify for the Daytona 500. “Wrecking Reed was not how I drew up my plan,” LaJoie stated. “I was trying to fill a hole and Reed didn’t think I should be there.” He went on to say he would have wrecked his mother to make the race.
Failing to make the Daytona 500 field were Sorenson and Timmy Hill.
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