DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – Clint Bowyer had the second Gander RV Duel in Daytona won on Thursday night. He had dominated since taking over the lead after the first pit sequence and was 2.5-miles away from giving Stewart-Haas Racing a sweep of the nights action.
Instead, Joey Logano got a good run and made a brilliant last lap maneuver to get by Bowyer for the win. Despite leading the most laps, Bowyer didn’t like the type of racing that he had to do in the 150 mile qualifying race instead.
“No, I don’t like that,” said Bowyer who finished runner-up. “I was leading the race, and I didn’t like that.”
So, with three races in the books in terms of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series during Daytona Speedweeks, is the single file racing at the top of the banking going to be what we’re going to see in Sunday’s Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)?
“It was that way (at) Talladega last year,” said Bowyer about what to expect. “We ended up dominating that race. Everybody learns through the course of Speedweeks. Everybody learns. Every manufacturer learns. Every organization learns. You may see organizations start pairing up and trying to overcome what you have there.
“At the end of the day, as long as that’s doable, as strong as it is, that’s a pretty tough thing to outrun. I mean, obviously we’ve seen three-wide, at least two-wide, for the better part of a lot of these races. Over the years, how many times have we seen Dale Jr. drag everybody on the outside and make a chain out of that thing?
“The only thing I can tell you is once those cars get single file like that, just look at the lap times, that tells the story. Once those lap times pick up a second, literally a second, the longer that chain got the faster I went up front.
“I told Brett one time, chain must have got longer because we picked up like 3/10ths like boom. As soon as the 9 (Chase Elliott) car started getting antsy down there, slow down. As soon as they got back in line, I could see our lap times picked back up.
“That’s part of it. That’s part of aero, part of learning. You can’t unlearn things that we’ve learned. Will it go back to three-wide, four-wide, chaotic Daytona like it always is? Probably at some point.”
Bowyer, says that the possible saving grace for Sunday is the stage breaks.
“You can’t forget the stages, the impact that the stages have on our sport. They’re always there. They’re always providing excitement. Even if you want to exclude that out of your mind as a racecar driver, say, This is the Daytona 500, my one opportunity, screw a bunch of stage points, they’re still real. You still catch yourself going for them when those stages come to a close. That’s going to play a role in it.”