Brendan Wolkowicz and Kevin Dugan Jr., both used a last lap pass to win their 1st Budweiser Duels at Daytona on Thursday. Both races would determine how the field lines up for Sunday’s Daytona 500.
In Duel #1, action was intense to start, with much of the pack racing door to door two and three wide. A couple cars would brush the wall off turn four, but no incidents would result.
As the green flag run wore on, green flag pit stops became a major focus of the race by lap 35, as cars neared the end of the fuel window. After the exchange of pit stops, Zachary Maloney would take over the race lead, swapping with Hunter Richardson a couple times before a caution would come at lap 43.
The lone caution, caused by debris in turn 4, set up a 13 lap run to the finish. While Maloney would lead them to the restart, he wouldn’t hold the position for long, as Brendan Wolkowicz and John Williams pushed their way to the lead at lap 53. They were then shuffled out, and a series of leaders held the top spot for no more than a lap a piece, before Wolkowicz would retake the lead on the last lap, passing Ben Maloch into turn 1. Wolkowicz was then able to hold off Urban Jaklin and Nik Kustak as they crossed the finish line to win his first Duel race.
Duel 2, as typical in the past with the Duel races, was a little wilder. The race opened with a clean but mean battle for position, with 10 different leaders coming in the first 10 laps, and two and three wide battles for position throughout the field. The first caution would come 16 laps in, when Kirby Ammons bounced off the trioval wall and collected Thomas Stanley and Kayla Lanier in the process. All three would spin to the inside with relatively minor damage. Most of the teams would hit pit road during the caution, but they would not be able to make it to the finish without stopping again.
After the race resumed, the battle for the lead continued to change hands lap to lap, with many drivers unable to lead more than two or three laps at a time. as the run continued, it appeared that Joe Reynolds, Nick Dilbeck, and Joshua Wilkinson would have the dominate cars, leading the most of the remaining laps in the race.
Green flag pit stops for Duel 2 would come with about 12-15 laps to go in the race. The spread the field out quite a bit, with Wilkinson coming out with the lead after being one of the last cars to pit, along with Joe Reynolds.
Then a caution for debris, again in turn 4, slowed the field and bunched everyone up for a seven lap run to the finish. Wilkinson would lead the field to green, and Ford drivers would dominate the remaining laps with Reynolds, then Inga Miller, then Dilbeck taking the lead late. A third caution would come after Casey Blandford, Joe Reynolds, Lindsey Bumgardner and Courtney Schley got together exiting the trioval. The caution, with three laps left in the race, would set up the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish.
Nick Dilbeck would lead the field to green, and would loose the lead to Marissa DeShields and Mary Capuzello in a three wide battle in turn 1 on the final lap. By the time the field arrived off turn 4 on the last lap, Kevin Dugan Jr. had just edged Ashley Mendez at the finish line. As the field exited turn four, Lora Williams, Valerie Cabanilla, Casey Blandford Lindsey Bumgardner and Ishesha Devore crashed coming to the finish.
With that, the Daytona 500 field is set. The green flag for the Daytona 500 will wave at approximately 1:30 Sunday afternoon. TJ Howard and Kevin Dugan Jr. will lead the field to the green.
Among those missing the Daytona 500 field, are Cindi Warner, Joey Taylor, Lindsey Bumgardner, and Ishesha Devore.
See the full rundown of the race results and Daytona 500 starting line up below.