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Reddick and Bell win Daytona Duels for Toyota, Johnson and Grala race into Daytona 500

Tyler Reddick, driver of the #45 Nasty Beast Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Bluegreen Vacations Duel #1 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Toyota makes up for qualifying woes as Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell win duels for Toyota. Jimmie Johnson and Kaz Grala race their way into Sunday’s Daytona 500.

The Bluegreen Vacations Duels at Daytona allowed Toyota to silence the doubters about their speed for the Daytona 500. Tyler Reddick makes a last-lap pass on Kyle Larson to win the first duel. Christopher Bell similarly led only one lap, the last one to with the second. Toyota regularly has not had great qualifying speed. In their seventeen years in the Cup Series, Toyota has never won the pole for the race. While never winning the pole, Toyota has nine victories in the duels. The doubters have been silenced and Toyota fans need not worry for Sunday.

Open Cars battle for a spot in the Daytona 500:

Both Duels at Daytona left the viewers with incredible battles for the four cars trying to make the 500. In Duel #1 we saw seven-time champion and now hall of famer Jimmie Johnson and JJ Yeley took it to the start-finish line in their battle for a spot.

Johnson, was caught up in a wreck on lap forty-nine but escaped with minimal damage. Yeley on the last lap, making a move to the outside with momentum on Ross Chastain, left the door open for Johnson to push Chastain. Johnson finished twelfth while Yeley finished sixteenth.

In Duel #2, it was a battle between Kaz Grala and BJ McLeod. Grala, racing for Front Row Motorsports, put Michael McDowell on the front row last night in qualifying. The #38 Mustang over-revved the engine on the out lap in qualifying. The #38 team changed the engine overnight and got it ready for the duel.

McLeod, an independent team with no sponsor, a Hendrick Motorsports pit crew, and an ECR Chevrolet engine took his all-black Chevrolet Camaro as high as third in the duel. Contact in the lap forty-nine wreck would cut a tire down and small damage but the #78 pit crew got McLeod back in the race to battle for a spot. The two drivers would make it three wide on the last lap coming out of turn three, with Grala finishing twelfth and McLeod fourteenth. Lots of fight from the team with only nine full-time employees.

Duels at Daytona leave wrecked racecars for Busch, Blaney:

But the Duels at Daytona were not without some carnage. In the first race, coming to pit road, eventual winner Tyler Reddick got into the side of Toyota teammate Ty Gibbs, scraping off the yellow Goodyear lettering on his tires. 2018 Daytona 500 winner Austin Dillon had to take two right-side tires after he scrapped his too. Duel #1 would see Daniel Hemric slam into the wall and end his race early, along with last year’s 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. He would not get his car fixed and DNF.

The big one would happen in the second Duel at Daytona. On lap forty-seven, a bump from Brad Keselowski would send Kyle Busch into the bumper of Ryan Blaney, starting a chain reaction that would collect two other cars, Noah Gragson and Riley Herbst. All drivers involved were checked and released from the care center.

Starting lineup for the 2024 Daytona 500:

From NASCAR.com. * denotes Non-Charter, Open, Car

POSITION CAR NO. DRIVER
1 22 Joey Logano
2 34 Michael McDowell
3 45 Tyler Reddick
4 20 Christopher Bell
5 9 Chase Elliott
6 2 Austin Cindric
7 48 Alex Bowman
8 11 Denny Hamlin
9 77 Carson Hocevar
10 42 John H. Nemechek
11 43 Erik Jones
12 21 Harrison Burton
13 99 Daniel Suárez
14 71 Zane Smith
15 54 Ty Gibbs
16 6 Brad Keselowski
17 5 Kyle Larson
18 24 William Byron
19 17 Chris Buescher
20 14 Chase Briscoe
21 1 Ross Chastain
22 51 Justin Haley
23 84 Jimmie Johnson*
24 23 Bubba Wallace
25 41 Ryan Preece
26 36 Kaz Grala*
27 19 Martin Truex Jr.
28 16 AJ Allmendinger
29 7 Corey LaJoie
30 60 David Ragan*
31 38 Todd Gilliland
32 4 Josh Berry
33 3 Austin Dillon
34 12 Ryan Blaney
35 62 Anthony Alfredo*
36 8 Kyle Busch
37 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
38 15 Riley Herbst
39 31 Daniel Hemric
40 10 Noah Gragson

The lineup is set and the drivers are ready. The Great American race is all set for Sunday. TV coverage is set for 2:30 PM on FOX.

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