DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – Four drivers entered, two would go home on Thursday night at the Daytona International Speedway. Heading into the Daytona Speedweeks, six drivers knew that they had to race their ways into the 61st annual Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET/FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
After last Sunday’s qualifying, both Tyler Reddick and Casey Mears knew that they would be into the Great American Race due to being the fastest qualifiers among the six open cars. That guarantees them a spot.
For the four other drivers, Thursday’s Gander RV Duels in Daytona was game on.
In Duel No. 1, it was Parker Kligerman vs. Ryan Truex. All Kligerman had to do was beat Truex AND Reddick. Truex, just had to beat Kligerman.
As fate would have it, with 20 to go, they were running in line all together.
See, Reddick had a disastrous first pit stop when he missed his pit stall and had to reverse his No. 31 Chevrolet on pit road to get into his pit box. He’d lose a lap as a result. On the Lap 25 caution, he’d take the wave around to get his lap back.
Then, he was racing for his starting spot. Due to Kyle Busch being the one that spun on Lap 25, he was a lap down and in the back. Busch, being a Toyota driver, helped his fellow Toyota team car in Parker Kligerman get a spot into the ‘500.
Kligerman, had drafting help by Busch to get by Reddick, as he held Reddick off in the end to finish 12th. Reddick, would finish 13th with Truex 14th.
Kligerman, was joyous following the race, thanking Busch for the help. He says without Busch, he wouldn’t have made it. This will be his second Daytona 500 start as his last was with Swan Racing in 2014 when he finished 29th.
For Truex, he said that the brace on his windshield broke near the midway mark which hurt his downforce. At one point, he was in the top 10 and looked like a legit contender.
In the second Duel, Brendan Gaughan easily skated by and will race his No. 62 Chevrolet in the Daytona 500 on Sunday. Gaughan, gambled and stayed out of the pits early and even led seven laps as a result. Joey Gase had problems and finished two laps down while Casey Mears played it conservative and also was two laps off the pace.
Gaughan, is a quiet sleeper for the ‘500 too.