Austin Dillon edged out Bubba Wallace coming to the finish line to win the second Bluegreen Vacations Duel race in overtime late Thursday night, into Friday morning at Daytona International Speedway.
Wallace took the lead on the final lap and held it until the exit of Turn 4 when Dillon dove from the top lane to the bottom lane to get underneath Wallace‘s No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota, gaining enough momentum in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to grab the victory, earning 10 points toward the regular-season standings.
It is the first Daytona qualifying race Dillon has won and he did it leading the only two laps on the night, lap 33 and then the last lap (63). It was similar to what he did in winning the 2018 Daytona 500 in the famed Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet when he led only the last lap — finishing a quarter-second ahead of Wallace then too.
“I was talking to my spotter before the restart and he was like, ‘We‘ve got the 4 (Kevin Harvick) behind us and he‘s been pushing well all night.‘ He had the 12 (Ryan Blaney in a Ford, like Harvick) so I knew the manufacturer thing was going to be tough,” Dillon said. “I made a decent block on the backstretch and just a heckuva push through (Turns) 3 and 4. I knew Bubba was going to try and block, but I just whipped the wheel and it worked out well.”
Wallace held on for second place, followed by Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott to round out the top five.
A crash with three laps remaining brought out the second caution of the race to set up the overtime battle. The wreck occurred when Garrett Smithley, who had to race his way into the Daytona 500, and Brad Keselowski came together going into Turn 1. Daytona 500 front-row starter William Byron was also involved and received significant damage on his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Others collected included Ross Chastain in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and Noah Gragson in the No. 62 Beard Motorsports Chevrolet.
Gragson, who also needed to race his way in, retired from the race and will miss the Daytona 500 in his first attempt.
The calamity worked out for David Ragan, who raced his way into Sunday‘s race with an eighth-place result. Ragan was already locked in with the second-fastest Open car speed from Wednesday night‘s single-car qualifying session. Ragan‘s finish therefore meant Kaz Grala in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet earned the final spot up for grabs.
Grala was initially involved in an earlier crash on Lap 36 involving Anthony Alfredo, Chase Briscoe and Smithley. Rookie Briscoe lost control of the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford at the exit of Turn 2. Alfredo, a rookie in the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford, and McLeod in the new No. 78 Live Fast Motorsports Ford were unable to continue, but both were previously locked into the race as members of Charter teams.
NASCAR Cup Series drivers will be on track next for the Daytona 500’s second practice Saturday at 9:30 a.m. ET on FS2.
Contributing: NASCAR Wire Service