The Daytona Duel 2 came down to a thrilling finish between Austion Dillon and Bubba Wallace, with Dillon taking the win in the No. 3 Chevrolet the late Dale Earnhardt made famous at Daytona International Speedway.
Wallace, driving his first race for Michael Jordan's 23XI Racing, charged into the lead on the final lap of Daytona Duel 2 with drafting help from Kyle Busch. Dillon battled back on the outside with Kevin Harvick, however, and dove to the inside when Wallace moved up the track o block. Dillon held off Wallace by inches with Harvick finishing third and Busch fourth.
"I had a decent block on the backstretch and just a heck of a push through (turn) 3 and 4," Dillon said. "I knew Bubba was going to try to block me, but I just whipped the wheel and it worked out well."
The win was the first for Richard Childress Racing in a Daytona Duel qualifying race since Earnhardt's last Daytona win in 2000. Earnhardt, who drove the team's black No. 3, won more races than any other driver at Daytona, including the 1998 Daytona 500. Dillon, who won the 2018 Daytona 500, won Daytona Duel 2 20 years after Earnhardt's death in the 2001 Daytona 500.
Aric Almirola won Daytona Duel 1, holding off Joey Logano and Christopher Bell.
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Daytona Duel 2 was delayed for more than two hours due to rain, a downpour that began just after the first Daytona Duel, and was run under threatening skies.
Daytona Duel 2: How did Bubba Wallace get the lead?
Wallace challenged early in Daytona Duel 2. He charged past pole-sitter William Byron on the first lap before getting shuffled back in the pack. He drove back into the lead on Lap 17.
Wallace battled near the front all night in Daytona Duel 2 before racing past leader Martin Truex Jr. on the final restart. He was not happy with his move that allowed Dillon to overtake him coming to the checkered flag.
“A lot of mistakes. A good debut, but nothing to be really happy about for myself. It’s okay for drivers to be hard on themselves. That’s how we motivate ourselves to go out and do better. Hats off to my guys — the 23XI team — for building me a great Toyota Camry. I tried to do all I could to help (Martin) Truex there, get Toyota a win. I appreciate Kyle (Busch) for cutting me a lot of breaks. I know I’ve got a lot to learn here, but all in all, it was a good night, but I’ve got some learning to do.”
Byron, who qualified second for the Daytona 500, regained the lead from Wallace and then shared the lead with Kevin Harvick in the first half of the Daytona Duel 2.
Byron was leading on Lap 36 when a multicar crash brought out the first caution flag of the night. Chase Briscoe spun in the middle of the pack, collecting the cars of Noah Gragson, Kaz Grala and Garett Smithley, who were all trying to race their way into the Daytona 500.
Byron was then taken out in another big wreck that erupted with five laps to go. Smithley caused the crash when he ran into Brad Keselowski, collecting Gragson, Byron and Ross Chastain.
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Daytona Duel 2: Who raced their way into Daytona 500?
David Ragan, who finished eight in the Daytona Duel 2, earned the final open spot into the Daytona 500, while Grala wound up getting in on speed. Ryan Preece raced his way into the Daytona 500 in the first Duel, with Austin Cindric earning the other spot on speed.
The finishing order of Daytona Duel 1 and Daytona Duel 2 set the starting lineup for the Daytona 500. Drivers in Daytona Duel 1 will occupy the inside row, while finishers in the Daytona Duel 2 will make up the outside row.
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