Joey Logano wins first Daytona 500 qualifying race
Joey Logano won the first Daytona 500 qualifying race Thursday night, beating Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski and Bubba Wallace.
Logano, who won his qualifying race for the second year in a row, came out on top after battling with Daytona 500 pole winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the closing laps. Stenhouse finished eighth.
Including last weekend’s Busch Clash, it was Logano’s second race with new crew chief Paul Wolfe.
“Obviously, it’s the duels and not the Daytona 500, but momentum is momentum,” Logano told FS1. "(Spotter) TJ Majors does such a great job up on the roof understanding the draft. Then working with this new group here, they’re not new to working together but I’m new with them, it’s just been a good partnership so far, has been pretty seamless in working out some of the kinks last week and being able come to victory lane here at Daytona.”
Reed Sorenson was the highest finishing non-chartered - or “open” - driver in 18th, locking him into the Daytona 500.
Daniel Suarez, one of the five “open” drivers trying to race their way into the 500, failed to make the race after he was eliminated in a wreck with Ryan Blaney on Lap 30. Suarez was running behind a line of Ford cars coming out of Turn 4 when the Ford cars began slowing to enter pit road.
Suarez, who didn’t know they were about to pit, checked up to his right and made contact with Blaney, resulting in the crash.
“The 2 car (Brad Keselowski) he started getting his hand out the window (to signal he was pitting) super, super late and I didn’t see him and when I started go, (Blaney) was there,” Suarez told FS1. “I’m getting tired of this.”
Suarez and Gaunt Bros Racing are attempting to run the full season despite not having a charter that guarantees them a starting spot in races.
“We should have never been in that spot in the first place,” Blaney said. “It was just an error on my part and kind of a little lack of communication that didn’t end well.”