Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick take victory in Gander RV Duel at Daytona

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Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick take victory in Gander RV Duel at Daytona

Story By: Reid Spencer/NASCAR

Photos By: Getty Images/NASCAR

Kevin Harvick led the final 44 laps to take victory in the first race of Thursday night’s Gander RV Duel at Daytona International Speedway.

Harvick will unofficially start third in Sunday’s 61st annual Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), holding off fellow Ford Performance drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Paul Menard in the final circuits for the win.

“I’m just glad we finally came out on the right side of this, and everything’s not tore up,” said Harvick, who had finished fourth, third and second in his previous three Daytona qualifying races.

Stenhouse Jr. finished second with Menard right behind in third. New Leavine Family Racing driver Matt DiBenedetto finished fourth, followed by Martin Truex Jr. in fifth.

The biggest action of the night occurred on Lap 35 when Kyle Busch spun as a result of contact from Jimmie Johnson. The left-rear quarter panel of Busch’s No. 18 Toyota was clipped by the right-front bumper of the Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet coming out of Turn 2, sending Busch for a spin down the backstretch. Luckily, Busch was able to avoid damage and pitted for four fresh Goodyear tires.

Parker Kligerman raced his way into the Daytona 500 after a close final-lap battle with Tyler Reddick and Ryan Truex. Kligerman finished in 12th place, while Reddick and Truex finished 13th and 14th, respectively. Truex came up short of making the 40-car field.

Daytona 500 pole winner William Byron started the race on pole position alongside Hendrick Motorsports teammate Johnson, electing to lead the first 15 laps prior to the first round of pit stops. As the racing for position ramped up with 25 laps remaining, the 2018 Sunoco Rookie of the Year dropped to the back of the field to avoid any potential incidents and protect the No. 24 Chevrolet for Sunday.

A power move on the final lap earned Joey Logano victory in the second race of Thursday night’s Gander RV Duel at Daytona International Speedway.

Logano pulled out of line heading into Turn 1 on the white-flag lap and with help from Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney, was able to pull past Clint Bowyer coming out of Turn 2. Logano will start fourth in Sunday’s Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“You have the whole race to think about making a move, and we were all out there just waiting,” Logano said. “Everyone behind me really wanted to go, and I just knew that I had to wait. The later you can do it, the less the risk if it doesn’t work. I got a good run from the 12 (Blaney) behind me and went to the bottom and got a good run.

“Was able to side-draft the 10 (Almirola) and pull him back and just barely get enough to break that plane in front of the 14 and clear him up. From there I was just blocking to the finish. My spotter, TJ (Majors), did a great job feeding me all the information I needed to make a decision.”

Bowyer was able to salvage a second-place finish after dominating much of the race, leading 41 of the 60 total circuits. Aric Almirola finished third, followed by Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch to round out the top-five finishers.

Brendan Gaughan raced his way into the Daytona 500, edging out Joey Gase with a 16th-place finish. Gase finished 19th and will not compete on Sunday.

Alex Bowman, flanking Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron on the front row for Sunday’s race, led the first 11 laps of the second race after starting on pole. Bowman, like Byron in the first race, elected to protect the No. 88 Chevrolet from potential disaster to ensure his starting spot — barring any mishap in this weekend’s practice sessions — finishing 13th.

The next on-track action for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is Friday’s third practice at 1 p.m. ET on FS1.