Harvick And Logano Post Victories In Gander RV Duel Races

William Byron leads the field during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Gander RV Duel At DAYTONA #1 at Daytona International Speedway. [Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images]

by Joe Jennings

DAYTONA BEACH – Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano opened the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season with victories in a pair of Gander RV Duel 150 races at the Daytona International Speedway on Thursday evening.

And the new Ford Mustang reined supreme in both of the Duels.

In the opening Duel, Daytona 500 pole winner William Byron led the opening 15 laps but after the full field pitted, Harvick’s crew fueled the Busch Beer Ford Mustang in rapid time, giving the lead to Harvick. The latter led the final 44 laps to win a Duel for the second time.

“Our strategy worked out well, we got on pit road well and we put gas in well, and then when our three Fords lined up well, we were hard to beat,” the victor said.

Ricky Stenhouse nosed out Paul Menard for second, giving Ford the top-three finishers.

Fourth and fifth were Matt DiBenedetto and Martin Truex Jr.

Bubba Wallace, Chris Buescher, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman and rookie Ryan Preece rounded out the top-10.

Once again, Johnson erred on an attempted pass causing Kyle Busch to spin out on backstretch. Johnson admitted to making a mistake. Busch was incensed but he kept going, finishing 18th.

Parker Klingerman finished 12th thanks to getting a push from Kyle Busch, to gain a starting position in the Daytona 500. His fortune came at the expense of Ryan Truex, who became the odd-man out.

“This means the world to me,” noted the Connecticut native and TV personality. “When I crossed the finish line, I knew it was bittersweet because it came at the expense of my friend Ryan. I have to thank Kyle Busch, as there’s no way I could have done it without his help.”

Running fourth going into the final lap, Logano pulled out, going low and swooped by Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and leader Clint Bowyer to gain the victory in Duel 2.

“Anytime you can put your car in victory lane at Daytona, it is special,” Logano said. “It brought back memories of 2015 and makes you want to do it again on Sunday.”

Bowyer and Almirola ended up second and third, give Ford another 1-2-3 sweep.

Bowyer and his Ford did lead 41 laps.

Hamlin and Kurt Busch finished fourth and fifth.

Rounding out the top-10 were Ryan Blaney, Jamie McMurray, Chase Elliott and Austin and Ty Dillon.

Brendan Gaughan finished 15th and gained a starting position in the Daytona 500. Failing to make the field was Joey Gase.

Said Gaughan, “I have never been so nervous before a race. I never want to come down here again and not lock myself in through qualifying. This absolutely sucks and I am too old to put myself through this. But we are in the field, even though we had to do it the hard way.”

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