Chase Elliott is on the pole for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Denny Hamlin is the race’s 2016 champion.
Those two drivers continued to be the story for this year’s race Thursday, winning the Can-Am Duel qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway.
Elliott followed up his Daytona 500 pole-winning performance from Sunday with his victory in the first race. Hamlin made a late-race pass of Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the second.
Elliott and Earnhardt are on the front row after finishing 1-2 in Sunday’s pole qualifying. Jamie McMurray, who finished second behind Elliott in the first race, will start third in the 500. Hamlin will start fourth on the outside row behind Earnhardt.
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Elliott and Hamlin both won 10 championship points with their victories. Drivers who finished in the top 10 all earned points under NASCAR’s new points system.
Kevin Harvick finished third in the first race. Brad Keselowski, who started second and led 28 of the race’s 60 laps, was fourth, with Matt Kenseth fifth. The remainder of the field will comprise the inside row of the 500.
Reed Sorenson wrecked late in the first race after Corey Lajoie made contact with him on the front stretch. Sorenson hit the inside wall of the first turn hard, but was OK. Paul Menard’s car was also damaged in the accident.
Earnhardt led 53 laps in the second race before Hamlin overtook him with one lap remaining. Clint Bowyer, racing for Stewart-Haas Racing this season, was second. Bowyer’s SHR teammate Kurt Busch was third. Earnhardt dropped to sixth.
Drivers from non-charter teams – Lajoie, Canada’s D.J. Kennington, Elliott Sadler and Brendan Gaughan – raced their way into Sunday’s 40-car field.
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Chase Elliott: He would have started on Sunday’s pole anyway, but his Thursday performance proved it’s no fluke.
Denny Hamlin: Defending Daytona 500 champion overcame a pit-road penalty that pushed him to the rear of the field. Then won anyway.
D.J. Kennington: Native of St. Thomas, Ontario, makes the field for non-charter Gaunt Brothers Racing. He has one career Cup start, a 35th finish at Phoenix in 2016.
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NASCAR teams returned to Daytona International Speedway on Thursday ready for practice. Unfortunately the day was marred by rain showers until late afternoon. The window allowed the Camping World Series to hit the track prior to the Can-Am Duel races.Jeff Siner firstname.lastname@example.org
NASCAR teams returned to Daytona International Speedway on Thursday ready for practice. Unfortunately the day was marred by rain showers until late afternoon. The window allowed the Camping World Series to hit the track prior to the Can-Am Duel races.
▪ FedEx announced Thursday it has extended its deal with Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing. Terms of the deal weren’t announced, but FedEx has been Hamlin’s primary sponsor since his rookie season of 2005.
▪ Sorenson’s wreck in the first race was similar to one involving Kyle Busch during the 2015 Xfinity race at Daytona. Like Busch, Sorenson hit the inside wall in Turn 1 extremely hard. There wasn’t a SAFER barrier there two years ago (now there is) and there was a large patch of grass in the area, which has since been removed. Busch broke his leg and foot in the wreck; Sorenson walked away.
▪ Cup champion Jimmie Johnson finished 13th in the second race after hitting the wall. He will drive a backup car Sunday.
▪ The first race lasted 56 minutes, 13 seconds; the second one lasted 57 minutes, 20 seconds.
“We had some big steam under the hood and that was a big factor.” – Elliott.
“We were coming so fast, it’s like a (penalty) kick in soccer. As a goalie, you guess which way they’re going to kick the ball. (Earnhardt) thought I was going one way and I went the other.” – Hamlin.
That 10 lap shootout spiked the adrenaline a bit I'd say. pic.twitter.com/pGIpb52c0P
What I dig about the #CanAmDuel is how u have half the field racing and half the drivers tweeting. It adds a helluva lot. #NASCAR
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Monster Energy Can-Am Duel
At Daytona International Speedway
Daytona Beach, Fla.
Lap length: 2.5 miles
1. (1) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 60.
2. (12) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 60.
3. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 60.
4. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 60.
5. (5) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 60.
6. (10) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 60.
7. (3) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 60.
8. (13) Aric Almirola, Ford, 60.
9. (9) Joey Logano, Ford, 60.
10. (18) Cole Whitt, Ford, 60.
11. (8) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 60.
12. (6) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 60.
13. (7) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 60.
14. (15) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 60.
15. (14) Landon Cassill, Ford, 60.
16. (16) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 60.
17. (20) Joey Gase, Toyota, 60.
18. (21) Corey LaJoie, Toyota, 60.
19. (17) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 60.
20. (11) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 59.
21. (19) Reed Sorenson, Toyota, Accident, 48.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 160.095 mph.
Time of Race: 56 minutes, 13 seconds. Margin of Victory: 0.156 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 2 for 7 laps.
Lead Changes: 6 among 3 drivers.
Lap Leaders: C. Elliott 1; B. Keselowski 2-11; Kyle Busch 12; B. Keselowski 13-24; Kyle Busch 25-30; B. Keselowski 31-36; C. Elliott 37-60.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): B. Keselowski 3 times for 28 laps; C. Elliott 2 times for 25 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 7 laps.
1. (3) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 60.
2. (2) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 60.
3. (11) Kurt Busch, Ford, 60.
4. (14) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 60.
5. (13) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 60.
6. (1) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 60.
7. (12) Danica Patrick, Ford, 60.
8. (5) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 60.
9. (8) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 60.
10. (6) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 60.
11. (16) David Ragan, Ford, 60.
12. (15) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 60.
13. (7) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 60.
14. (4) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 60.
15. (19) DJ Kennington, Toyota, 60.
16. (18) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 60.
17. (17) Michael Waltrip, Toyota, 60.
18. (20) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 60.
19. (10) Erik Jones, Toyota, 59.
20. (9) Ryan Blaney, Ford, Accident, 55.
21. (21) Timmy Hill, Chevrolet, Engine, 29.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 156.977 mph.
Time of Race: 57 minutes, 20 seconds. Margin of Victory: 0.214 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 2 for 8 laps.
Lead Changes: 5 among 3 drivers.
Lap Leaders: D. Earnhardt Jr. 1-2; D. Hamlin 3-4; D. Earnhardt Jr. 5-27; R. Blaney 28-30; D. Earnhardt Jr. 31-58; D. Hamlin 59-60.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): D. Earnhardt Jr. 3 times for 53 laps; D. Hamlin 2 times for 4 laps; R. Blaney 1 time for 3 laps.
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