Chris Buescher capped off a perfect day for the newly named Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing by winning the second Bluegreen Vacations Duel at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday, February 17, despite being involved in a last lap incident with Joey Logano that sent Logano hard into the wall and with a wrecked race car leading up to this year’s 64th running of the Daytona 500.
The second Duel victory awarded Buescher a starting spot on the second row alongside teammate Brad Keselowski in fourth place as he will contend for his first victory in his seventh career start in the Great American Race.
Prior to the event, Alex Bowman, who claimed a front row starting spot for the 64th running of the Daytona 500, started on the pole and was joined on the front row with Aric Almirola. In addition, Jacques Villeneuve, who locked himself into the 500 based on qualifying speed, fell out of lead lap contention after enduring a throttle cable issue before he could roll his car out on the track for the pace laps.
When the green flag waved and the race started, Bowman assumed an early command with the lead while Almirola challenged Martin Truex Jr. for the runner-up spot on the outside lane.
By the first lap, Bowman was leading ahead of Truex, who had Joey Logano challenge him on the outside lane with drafting help from rookie Harrison Burton while Almirola lost the draft and drifted towards the rear of the field.
During the following lap, Logano led by a hair through the tri-oval before Bowman stormed back to the lead on the inside lane in Turn 3 with drafting help from Truex and the competitors lined up on the inside lane.
By the fifth lap, Bowman was leading ahead of Logano and Truex, both of whom were locked in a side-by-side battle in front of Burton, Denny Hamlin and the field.
Three laps later, Logano peaked his No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang ahead with the lead. Another two laps later, however, Bowman fought back to lead another lap for himself before Logano assumed full command, beginning on Lap 11.
By Lap 15, the Dillon brothers moved to the front as Austin Dillon assumed the lead followed by brother Ty. Another two laps later, however, Chris Buescher moved his No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang into the lead before Ricky Stenhouse Jr. led a lap for himself on Lap 18.
Through the first 20 laps of the event, Buescher was leading ahead of Stenhouse, Kevin Harvick, Michael McDowell Logano while Burton, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch were in the top 10.
On Lap 26, some competitors that included Kyle Busch, Bubba Wallace, Christopher Bell, Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin pitted under green. In the midst of the pit stops, Hamlin locked up the front tires of his No. 11 FedEx Toyota TRD Camry while trying to enter pit road and spun just past the pit road entrance. Despite continuing, he lost the draft with his Toyota teammates and was mired back in 19th place.
Back on the track, Buescher continued to lead followed by Stenhouse, Harvick, McDowell and Logano.
At the halfway mark on Lap 30, Buescher retained the lead ahead of Stenhouse, Harvick, McDowell and Logano. Burton, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Biffle and Kyle Busch were in the top 10. By then, Biffle was in a transfer spot and 12 spots ahead of Timmy Hill, who was also vying for a transfer spot but mired back in 21st place, dead last.
Two laps later, the next wave of competitors led by Stenhouse pitted under green. Then coming to Lap 34, Buescher pitted as Logano cycled to the lead. In the midst of the pit stops, Biffle endured a long pit stop after his pit crew had issues while trying to get fuel in his car, but he retained a transfer spot for the 500 ahead of Hill and Villeneuve.
With 20 laps remaining, Logano was leading ahead of Buescher, McDowell and Harrison Burton, all of whom were separated by less three-tenths of a second while fifth-place Stenhouse trailed by less than nine seconds. Harvick, Kyle Busch, Bell, Truex and Bubba Wallace were in the top 10 while Biffle retained a transfer spot in 14th place, six spots ahead of Timmy Hill and seven ahead of Villeneuve.
Down to the final 10 laps of the event, Logano continued to lead by a narrow margin over Buescher, McDowell, Harrison Burton and Kyle Busch while Bell, Truex, Wallace, Stenhouse and Harvick were in the top 10. Behind, Biffle was in 14th ahead of Bowman, but in a transfer spot while Hill and Villeneueve were mired back in 20th and 21st.
When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Logano continued to lead ahead of Buescher, McDowell and Burton as Harvick was lapped. Then entering the backstraightaway, Buescher, who tried to make a move beneath Logano, made contact with Logano as Logano tried to block Buescher’s run, which sent Logano head-on into the outside wall. While Buescher and McDowell bolted to the left to avoid the carnage, Burton made contact with Logano’s damaged No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang, which sent his car spinning while Burton continued.
Logano’s wreck ended the event under caution as Buescher crossed the finish line in first place ahead of McDowell and Burton. Shortly after, Buescher was declared the winner of the event following an official review.
The victory marked Buescher’s first victory in the NASCAR Cup Series since claiming his first career victory at Pocono Raceway during a rain-shortened event and his first career Daytona Speedweeks win.
“What a way to start Speedweeks out here,” Buescher said on FS1. “To put both [Roush Fenway Keselowski] Ford Mustangs to Victory Lane. To get Fastenal their first win on a Cup car. I know it’s not the big show, but we got a really good hot rod here. Just hats off to everybody back at the shop. I know it’s been a heck of an off-season for everybody at our sport, but we’ve had a lot of changes going on and that’s cool to see it play out…We’re in a good spot here. That’s exciting.”
Following his wreck, Logano ended the night in ninth place, the first competitor a lap down.
“I just made a mistake,” Logano, who emerged from the infield care center uninjured, said. “I didn’t think the run would come that quick. It just seemed like it happened really quick. Even watching the replay, it happened quicker than I thought it would. I knew a run was gonna happen at some point on the last lap. I thought that was pretty early…Thought I was still clear and I wasn’t. I apologize to my race team…Just blew it. ”
McDowell and Burton were scored in second and third while Kyle Busch and teammate Bell finished in the top five. Truex, Wallace and Stenhouse finished sixth, seventh and eighth while Harvick settled in 10th, a lap behind.
Meanwhile, Greg Biffle finished 13th and raced his way into this year’s 64th running of the Daytona 500 while driving the No. 44 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for NY Racing. With the accomplishment, Biffle will be making his 511th career start in NASCAR’s premier series and contend for his first victory in the Great American Race, which will mark his 15th career start in the 500.
“It was a tough go,” Biffle said. “I gotta thank Chevy, [Richard Childress Racing], Hendrick engines and [crew chief] Jay Guy. The car drove so good. This was a last minute deal. These team guys thrown together. We had trouble getting fuel in the car. I ran out of gas with two laps to go…Everything happened tonight, but we finished 14th. I’m glad maybe that fuel stop wasn’t perfect because I might’ve been in that wreck [on the final lap]. ”
Timmy Hill, who finished 20th, failed to qualify for the Daytona 500 while Jacques Villeneuve, who retired in 21st place, dead last, secured the final transfer spot to the 500 based on his qualifying speed.
There were 11 lead changes for five different leaders. The race featured one caution for one lap.
1. Chris Buescher, 17 laps led
2. Michael McDowell
3. Harrison Burton
4. Kyle Busch
5. Christopher Bell
6. Martin Truex Jr.
7. Bubba Wallace
8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., one lap led
9. Joey Logano – OUT, Accident, 33 laps led
10. Kevin Harvick, one lap down
11. Corey LaJoie, one lap down
12. Ty Dillon, one lap down
13. Greg Biffle, one lap down
14. Alex Bowman, one lap down, seven laps led
15. Denny Hamlin, one lap down
16. Cody Ware, one lap down
17. David Ragan, two laps down
18. Austin Dillon, two laps led
19. Aric Almirola, two laps down
20. Timmy Hill, four laps down
21. Jacques Villeneuve – OUT, Electrical
With the starting lineup for the 2022 Daytona 500 established, the main event is set to commence on Sunday, February 20, which will also mark the start of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. Coverage for the event is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX.