The first Can-Am Duel qualifying race that will set the field for Sunday's Daytona 500 finished with a familiar face in Victory Lane Thursday night at Daytona International, with Dale Earnhardt Jr., winning.
Earnhardt passed Denny Hamlin for the lead with six laps to go, then held Joey Logano to secure the victory. Rookie Ryan Blaney finished third, Kevin Harvick and Hamlin rounded out the top five.
Dominating in winning his fifth Duel qualifier overall, Earnhardt led 43 of 60 laps and never was seriously challenged. A two-time Daytona 500 winner, Earnhardt is the heavy favorite to capture a third victory Sunday.
Who qualified for the Daytona 500?
Michael McDowell, driving for a team that came together just last month, finished 14th to claim the single transfer position.
Who missed out?
Josh Wise and Cole Whitt were the two drivers failing to earn a Daytona 500 starting position. Whitt was running directly behind McDowell when he tried to complete a pass, but McDowell threw a block causing Whitt to lose control and spin out.
What else of note?
Doing exactly what he needed to do, rookie Chase Elliott gained some experience in the draft and most importantly, kept his car intact to preserve his pole-position Sunday. Had Elliott wrecked necessitating a switch to a backup, the 20-year-old would have had to forfeit the spot and drop to the rear of the field.