Mustangs Dominate the Daytona Duels, Field Set for the 500

The New NASCAR Ford Mustangs prove they have the horses to drive to the front of the pack. Ford Performance drivers will start six cars in the top 10 for the Daytona 500. Starting spots three through eight are occupied by a Blue Oval Pony.

Daytona International Speedway, Thursday, Februaryv14, 2019

Qualifying for the Daytona 500 is different than any other race on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit. Last Sunday’s single-car qualifying runs only determined the front row for the race. The pole sitter, William Byron(24) knows where he will start the 500. So does his teammate Alex Bowman(88). They will be on the front row regardless of what happens tonight. The other 38 cars that start The Great American Race and the order they line up in will be determined in the Duels.

Two races, 60 laps each, a total of 150 miles. Take the qualifying times from Sunday, rank them from 1-42, the odd numbers start in Duel 1, the even numbers go in Duel 2. The Daytona 500 will start with 40 cars, two cars will go home after tonight.

Gander RV Duel 1

The fastest qualifier, William Byron drove off in the lead on the drop off the green flag. The 150 miles requires one pit stop. Most of the teams pitted on lap 13, Byron stayed out until lap 15. It cost him the lead. Kevin Harvick(4) led the freight train of cars that pitted early, they passed Byron on the backstretch as he was trying to get back up to speed.

Caution displayed on Lap 25 as Jimmie Johnson(48) bumped Kyle Busch(18) who spun down the backstretch. Kyle kept it off the wall and out of the grass, avoiding damage to the car. The second driver during Speedweeks to fall victim to Johnson’s driving.

Harvick’s Ford Mustang held the lead on the restart and the field ran a couple of laps side-by-side. Before reverting to a single file line, which seems to be the norm until someone wants to vie for the top spot. Byron chose to move to the rear of the field, protect his car, and not take a chance of damaging what is obviously a fast machine.

The Finish
Kevin Harvick / Lasco Press Photo

The field remained essentially static until they reached the backstretch on the final lap. Several drivers dropped low to try and improve their position, but Harvick held onto the win. The Mustangs of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(17) and Paul Menard(21) finished 2nd and 3rd. A 1-2-3 finish for Ford Performance. Matt DiBenedetto(95) placed 4th and Martin Truex Jr.(19) 5th. The five will line up in spots 3-11 for the 500. Provided them keep their cars clean in practice and don’t have to make repairs or go to a back-up.

Kyle Busch finished in 18, one lap down, after his incident with Johnson. Brad Keselowski(2) finished 20th, two laps down. Brad was hit with two penalties for pitting out of the pit box and speeding on pit road. Both drivers will have to work from the rear of the field for Sunday’s 500.

Gander RV Duel 2

Duel 2 started pretty much the same as the first race. Pole sitter Alex Bowman(88) drove off into turn 1 with the lead. The field strung out into single file racing. A few drivers tried out the bottom line to assess the ability of their car. Making a single car pass was possible with a good run and a spot to slip into. However, if you stepped out of line the usual result was a trip to the end of the line.

Half the field pitted on Lap 12, most of the rest pitted on Lap 13. Clean stops for all except Erik Jones(20), who was too fast on pit road and had to serve a drive-through penalty.

As the field cycled through pit stops and reformed Clint Bowyer(14) and his Ford Mustang set the pace. Denny Hamlin(11) ran in 2nd. Then the Mustangs of Aric Almirola(10), Joey Logano(22), and Ryan Blaney(12) filled spots three through five. Like Byron, Bowman dropped to the rear to protect his front row starting spot.

The Finish
Joey Logano / Lasco Press Photo

Everyone stayed in line until the final lap. Logano dove low into turn one followed by his teammate Blaney. By the exit of the second turn, Joey had the lead. Across the finish line, it was again a 1-2-3 finish for the Mustangs. Bowyer took 2nd, Almirola 3rd, with Hamlin in 4th, and Kurt Busch(1) in 5th.

Erik Jones finished in 20th, one lap down. Joey Gase(66) and Ryan Truex(71), Martin’s brother, failed to make the 500 field.

Starting Lineup for the 61st Daytona 500

1. William Byron
2. Alex Bowman
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Joey Logano
5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
6. Clint Bowyer
7. Paul Menard
8. Aric Almirola
9. Matt DiBenedetto
10. Denny Hamlin
11. Martin Truex Jr.
12. Kurt Busch
13. Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr.
14. Ryan Blaney
15. Chris Buescher
16. Jamie McMurray
17. Jimmie Johnson
18. Chase Elliott
19. Ryan Newman
20. Austin Dillon
21. Ryan Preece
22. Ty Dillon
23. Daniel Suarez
24. David Ragan
25. Parker Kligerman
26. Kyle Larson
27. Landon Cassill
28. Erik Jones
29. Daniel Hemric
30. Brendan Gaughan
31. Kyle Busch
32. Corey Lajoie
33. Matt Tifft
34. Michael McDowell
35. Brad Keselowski
36. Ross Chastain
37. Cody Ware
38. BJ McLeod
39. Tyler Reddick
40. Casey Mears



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Steve Sweitzer
Steve is the Sports Editor for the Lasco Press and highlights our coverage of the NASCAR Cup Series. Steve is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association and a nationally published author of automotive related articles for industry trade magazines. He is also a freelance technical writer and accomplished photographer. A 25-year resident of Southeast Michigan, Steve’s passion for reporting on our community, it’s residents, and our automotive connections allow us to use his skills to cover a number of events. Steve’s ability to seek out the unique behind the scenes accounts that tell the often-overlooked aspect of a story makes for entertaining reading. Follow Steve at with weekly NASCAR updates and featured articles.