NASCAR Budweiser Duel lineups set for Thursday

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So, qualifying is in the books for the Daytona 500, which means little in the grand scheme of things but means more in some respects because we get to talk about it for a week.

The tangible outcome of the Daytona 500 qualifying speeds though, is that they set the grid for Thursday’s Budweiser Duel… which then sets the grid for the actual Daytona 500.

The lineups below are determined by said qualifying speeds, with three exceptions. Danica Patrick, Tony Stewart and Bobby Labonte will move to the back of their respective Duel race because of engine changes.

DAYTONA DUEL NO. 1

Pos Car Driver Team
1 3 Austin Dillon # DOW Chevrolet
2 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford
3 31 Ryan Newman Caterpillar Chevrolet
4 88 Dale Earnhardt. Jr. National Guard Chevrolet
5 17 Ricky Stenhouse. Jr. Nationwide Insurance Ford
6 9 Marcos Ambrose Stanley Ford
7 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford
8 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford
9 20 Matt Kenseth Dollar General Toyota
10 5 Kasey Kahne Farmers Insurance Chevrolet
11 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Toyota
12 4 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet
13 10 Danica Patrick GoDaddy Chevrolet
14 47 AJ Allmendinger Kroger/USO Chevrolet
15 36 Reed Sorenson Golden Corral Chevrolet
16 38 David Gilliland Love’s Travel Stops Ford
17 30 Parker Kligerman # Swan Energy Toyota
18 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
19 55 Brian Vickers Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota
20 26 Cole Whitt # Speed Stick Gear Toyota
21 95 Michael McDowell K-Love Ford
22 98 Josh Wise Curb Records Ford
23 87 Joe Nemechek(i) 300 Rise of an Empire Toyota
24 23 Alex Bowman # Dr.Pepper Toyota
25 77 Dave Blaney Plinker Arms Ford

DAYTONA DUEL NO. 2

Pos Car Driver Team
1 78 Martin Truex Jr. Furniture Row Chevrolet
2 99 Carl Edwards Fastenal Ford
3 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford
4 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet
5 27 Paul Menard Peak/Menards Chevrolet
6 33 Brian Scott(i) Whitetail Chevrolet
7 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s Chevrolet
8 13 Casey Mears GEICO Chevrolet
9 7 Michael Annett # Pilot/Flying J Travel Centers Chevrolet
10 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota
11 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express
12 42 Kyle Larson # Target Chevrolet
13 21 Trevor Bayne(i) Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford
14 41 Kurt Busch Haas Automation Chevrolet
15 51 Justin Allgaier # Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet
16 40 Landon Cassill(i) Hillman Racing Chevrolet
17 66 Michael Waltrip BlueDEF/AAA Toyota
18 35 Eric McClure(i) Hefty Ultimate/Reynolds Wrap Ford
19 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald’s Chevrolet
20 34 David Ragan CSX – Play It Safe Ford
21 32 Terry Labonte C&J Energy Services Ford
22 52 Bobby Labonte Phoenix Construction Chevrolet
23 83 Ryan Truex # Borla Exhaust Toyota
24 93 Morgan Shepherd(i) SupportMilitary.org Toyota

Valiant efforts from Hunter-Reay, Dixon come up just short at Road America

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Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon drove about as hard as they possibly could during Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix, and they both drove nearly perfect races.

Hunter-Reay took advantage of Will Power’s engine issues on the start to immediately jump into second, and stalked pole sitter and leader Josef Newgarden from there, often staying within only a couple car lengths of his gearbox.

Dixon, meanwhile, had a tougher chore after qualifying a disappointing 12th. Further, he was starting in the same lane as Will Power, and when Power had engine issues when the green flag waved, Dixon was one of several drivers who was swamped in the aftermath.

Scott Dixon had to come from deep in the field on Sunday’s KOHLER Grand Prix. Photo: IndyCar

However, as is his style, he quietly worked his way forward, running sixth after the opening round of pit stops, and then working his way up to third after the second round of stops.

It all meant that, after Lap 30, Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, and Dixon were nose-to-tail at the front, with the latter two in position to challenge for the win.

Yet, neither was able to do so. Hunter-Reay never got close enough to try to pass Newgarden, while Dixon couldn’t do so on either Hunter-Reay or Newgarden. And, neither driver went longer in their final stint – Dixon was actually the first of that group to pit, doing so on Lap 43, with Hunter-Reay and Newgarden pitting together one lap later.

And Newgarden pulled away in the final stint, winning by over three seconds, leaving Hunter-Reay and Dixon to finish second and third.

It was a somewhat bitter pill to swallow, with Hunter-Reay noting that he felt like he had enough to challenge for a win.

“I felt like we had the pace for (Newgarden), especially in the first two stints,” he asserted. “I really felt like it was going to be a really good race between us. Whether it be first, second, third, fourth stint – I didn’t know when it was going to come.”

He added that, if he could do it over again, he would have been more aggressive and tried to pass Newgarden in the opening stint.

“In hindsight, I should have pressured him a bit more in the first stint,” Hunter-Reay lamented. “We were focused on a fuel number at the time. Unfortunately that Penske fuel number comes into play, can’t really go hard.”

Dixon, meanwhile, expressed more disappointment in the result, asserting that qualifying better would have put him in a possibly race-winning position.

“I think had we started a little further up, we could have had a good shot at trying to fight for the win today,” he expressed.

The disappointment for Dixon also stems from the knowledge that his No. 9 PNC Bank Honda had the pace to win, especially longer into a run.

“The car was pretty good on the long stint,” he asserted. “I think for us the saving grace was probably the black tire stint two. We closed a hefty gap there. We were able to save fuel early in the first stint, which enabled us to go a lap longer than everybody, had the overcut for the rest of the race.

“I think speed-wise we were right there. Had a bit of a crack at Hunter-Reay on his out lap on the last stint there, but cooked it too much going into (Turn 14), got a bit loose, lost momentum. That would have been really the only chance of passing him.”

Dixon remains in the championship lead, however, by 45 points, while Hunter-Reay moved up to second, tied with Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi.

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