Daytona Duels 2021: Highlights from Daytona 500 qualifying races
NASCAR completed its qualification process for the Daytona 500 on Thursday evening / Friday morning with the annual duels at Daytona International Speedway. The two 150-mile races not only set the starting positions for the race on February 14th, but also determined the final open spots in the 40-car field.
Phase 1 of qualifying took place on Wednesday evening with pole qualifying. The Hendrick Motorsports team-mates, Alex Bowman and William Byron, recorded the two fastest lap times in qualifying and thus achieved pole and No. 2 position for the race. Two other drivers – Ryan Preece and David Ragan – entered the race with their qualifying runs. They secured two of the four vacancies in the field.
The other two places were up for grabs in the duels, with six drivers fighting for them. Austin Cindric and Kaz Grala earned it on their qualifying times after Preece and Ragan both found their way into the field.
The results of the duel races determine the starting positions for the Daytona 500: Duel 1 sets the inner row, Duel 2 sets the outer row. Aric Almirola comfortably won Duel 1 and secured position # 3, while Austin Dillon brought Bubba Wallace onto the line to win Duel 2 and starting position # 4.
Dillon’s win was similar to his 2018 Daytona 500 win when he only led the final lap – and then a quarter of a second ahead of Wallace.
“I made a decent block on the back straight and just one bloody puncture [Turns] I knew Bubba was going to try to block but I just whipped the wheel and it worked out fine, “said Dillon.
Sporting News followed live race updates and lap-by-lap highlights from the Bluegreen Vacations Duels 2021 in Daytona. Follow below for full race results and the official starting grid for the Daytona 500.
Material from the NASCAR Wire Service was used in this report.
MORE: Watch NASCAR live with fuboTV (7 days free trial)
Daytona 500 starting grid
The first race established the inner row for the Daytona 500.
Duel 1 results
|Start pos.||driver||Car no.|
|3. (Won duel 1)||Aric Almirola||10|
|21st||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||47|
Not qualified: Ty Dillon (96), Timmy Hill (66).
Duel 2 results
The second race set up the outer row for the Daytona 500.
|Start pos.||driver||Car no.|
|4. (Won duel 2)||Austin Dillon||3|
|26th||Martin Truex Jr.||19th|
Not qualified: Garrett Smithley, 13, Noah Gragson, 62.
Daytona Duels 2021 live updates, highlights
(All times east)
12:31 am: One of Wallace’s bosses at 23XI Racing summed up the goal of Duel 2 as follows:
12:25 am: CHECKERED FLAG! Bubba Wallace gets a push from Kyle Busch to take the lead in the white flag lap, but Austin Dillon gets a run in the trioval, avoids the block, nudges Wallace just short of the line, and takes the win. Wallace holds for second place. Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott round out the top 5. David Ragan and Kaz Grala get the last two places in the field.
12:22 am: Duel 2 results in a two-round overtime shootout. It will be Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch who will restart in the top 5. (UPDATE: Kurt Busch fell backwards before restarting.)
12:13 am: ATTENTION. Big with four to go, and William Byron gets ranged in. The damage to the car will likely put Byron in a replacement car for the 500 and thus to the back of the field. Garrett Smithley stirs up the wreckage by driving his car in Brad Keselowski’s car and starting a chain reaction. The crash also beats driver Noah Gragson from the duel and the 500.
00:10 am: We still have 10 to go and it’s Duel 2 polesitter William Byron in front. Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch are 2-3 at the time of this writing.
Midnight: The top 5 to restart: Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, William Byron, Austin Dillon, Martin Truex Jr.
11:52 pm: CAUTION. The first major wreck of the race and one of the drivers involved is Garrett Smithley trying to find his way into the Daytona 500. At least five cars were damaged. (UPDATE: Fox Sports reports that five cars were involved.)
11:45 pm: Bubba Wallace becomes trapped between the lanes and falls out of the lead. He’s eighth now as the cars start driving individual files on the high side. Noah Gragson, in seventh place, is the best placed open rider when the race hits the middle.
11:35 pm: Bubba Wallace is at the top of the inside lane after 15 laps. Kevin Harvick leads the flank. They are 1-2 for the lead.
11:24 pm: Green flag for Duel 2! You are driving after a delay of more than 2 1/2 hours.
11:20 pm: Cars are on the track, driving speed laps. While we wait, an NFL distraction: Duel 1 winner Aric Almirola, a proud Floridian, had a message to Fox analyst Clint Bowyer, a proud Kansan, about Super Bowl 55: “It’s going right for Tampa Bay, right, Clint Bowyer? ”Almirola said in his Postrace interview with FS1.
23 o’clock: The schedule now provides a command to start the engines at 11:10 p.m.
10:50 pm: The driver and the cars are back on the pit lane. I’m just waiting for the race to start. The delay has now lasted more than two hours.
9:35 pm: It’s going to be one of those days in Daytona. An Air Titan that dries the track slips and then slides down the bench. Damage to the back. A tow truck is called.
8:55 pm: How Byzantine Are NASCAR’s Daytona 500 Qualifying Rules? Last year’s Cup Series champion, son of the NASCAR royal family, has questions.
8.45 p.m .: Duel 2 has a rain delay. No schedule for the start of the race.
8.10 p.m .: White flag. Aric Almirola leads the field, single file, in the background. Joey Logano comes up short but Almirola takes back and wins by three-quarters car length. Christopher Bell, who also made a late move, came second. Ryan Newman is in third place. Logano is fourth. Ryan Preece completes the top 5 and races as a top open driver in Duel 1 in the 500. His end of the race replaces his qualification time as a criterion for entry. Austin Cindric, who is 16th, one lap behind, steps in based on his qualifying speed. Ty Dillon (sixth) and Timmy Hill (19th) are eliminated.
8 pm: With 10 laps to go, Aric Almirola leads Duel 1 and Ty Dillon (fifth) is the leading open driver.
7:55 pm: Alex Bowman is back on track but two laps back. Now it’s a matter of saving the engine.
7:50 pm: The green flag stops the cycle. Austin Cindric is serving a through penalty for accelerating down the pit lane. That hurts his chances of getting into the race. At 22, Aric Almirola, Joey Logano, Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Newman and Ty Dillon are in the top five.
7.45pm: Daytona 500 polesitter Alex Bowman makes an unscheduled pit stop under the green. He’s worried about the engine. His # 1 position for the race will be in doubt if there is a big problem. Minutes later, the wholesale green flag stops begin.
7:40 pm: Round 25 and it’s a single file on the outside. So far, clean and green.
7:35 pm: We’re through the first quarter of Duel 1 (15 rounds out of 60) and the first three are Aric Almirola, Joey Logano and Christopher Bell. Austin Cindric leads the open riders who have to go into the 500s. This will all have changed by the time you read this, because Daytona.
19:30 o’clock: Denny Hamlin didn’t want any part of a potential big one for the first 10 rounds. The two-time defending 500 winner fell well below the double yellow and shuffled to the back of the field.
7:20 pm: Green flag! You are running on the super speedway!
7:10 pm: Tyler Reddick starts Duel 1 at the rear because of unapproved adjustments. Fox Sports reported that Reddick’s team changed the gearbox in Reddick’s # 8 car.
19 o’clock: NASCAR reminded drivers (with animation) to keep their cars on the track above the double yellow line:
Start times for Daytona Duels 2021
- Duel 1: 7 p.m. ET
- Duel 2: 8:45 p.m. ET
The line-up for Duel 1 mainly consists of the drivers who ended up in uneven positions in pole qualifying. This means that the pole sitter Alex Bowman will be in the front row for his duel along with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (third in qualifying).
The line-up for Duel 2 mainly consists of the drivers who ended up in straight positions in pole qualifying. This means that second placed qualifier William Byron will lead the field for his duel race along with Bubba Wallace (fourth in qualifying).