Chase Elliott wins opening Can-Am Duel at Daytona
Chase Elliott won the first Can-Am Duel at Daytona on Thursday night after starting from the pole, holding off a number of NASCAR's top restrictor-plate racers to do so.
"I know this is just a Duel win and doesn't count toward the playoffs, but this still is a big deal for our team," said Elliott, who already had won the pole for Sunday's Daytona 500 (live on FOX at 2 p.m. ET).
Brad Keselowski led the early portion of the race, except for a brief period when Kyle Busch grabbed the lead just before the competition caution on Lap 25.
But on Lap 36, Elliott surged back to the front. He stayed there until just 12 laps remained in the 60-lap race, holding off the likes of Jamie McMurray and Kevin Harvick until another caution came out when Corey LaJoie appeared to get into the back of Reed Sorenson, wrecking Sorenson’s No. 55 Toyota on the front stretch.
Both LaJoie and Sorenson were attempting to race their way into Sunday’s Daytona 500, since neither had a guaranteed spot entering the night.
Their accident set up a restart with nine laps to go, and Harvick almost immediately got up to the side of the leader Elliott. The second-year driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet held on, though, holding off Harvick and the rest of the field over the final laps to take the checkered flag.
For the first time since 1971, the top 10 finishers of the Duel earned points, with 10 going to the winner, nine to the second-place finisher, eight to third and so on.
McMurray finished second, with Harvick, Keselowski and Matt Kenseth rounding out the top five. Finishing fifth through 10th and also picking up points were, in order, Trevor Bayne, Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola, Joey Logano and Cole Whitt.
For the complete finishing order of the race, click here.