Reddick, Bell Win Bluegreen Vacations Duels


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The Bluegreen Vacations Duels took place Thursday night at Daytona International Speedway, finalizing the starting lineup for Sunday's Daytona 500. Both drivers pilot a Toyota Camry, in the new body debuted by Toyota for the 2024 Cup Series season. Also of note in the duels, the final two open starting spots for the Daytona 500 were secured. Jimmie Johnson bested J.J. Yeley in Duel #1, and Kaz Grala outpaced B.J. McLeod in Duel #2.

Bluegreen Vacations Duel #1

Reddick won a heated battle for the win in the first of the two duels, outlasting hard charges from Kyle Larson and Daniel Suárez among others. With his win, Reddick has now taken the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway in all three of NASCAR's top series (Trucks, Xfinity, and Cup) and in all three manufacturers (Toyota, Ford, and Chevrolet).

“Great way to start off the weekend,” Reddick said. “This thing is a beast. It’s a great way to kick off the brand-new (sponsor’s) product. Go out and get some Hard Tea, have a good time tonight. I know we are.”

Yeley (#44) and Johnson (#84) spent much of the first duel race in close proximity.
Yeley (#44) and Johnson (#84) spent much of the first duel race in close proximity.

Even more triumphant than Reddick was Jimmie Johnson, who only narrowly beat out J.J. Yeley to make it into the Daytona 500. Johnson, a seven-time champion driving for a team he co-owns, had to compete his way into the Great American Race for the first time in his career. He risked not qualifying for a Cup race for the first time in multiple decades of competition. Yeley, a journeyman veteran with no career wins to his name, came to drive for NY Racing at the last moment after planned driver Greg Biffle announced he was pulling out. Johnson and Yeley couldn't have been in more different situations.

Yeley made Johnson work for it at the end, but he ultimately came up just short from advancing into the Daytona 500. Johnson, the Daytona 500 winner in 2006 and 2013, heaped credit on Yeley after the race for his valiant effort. “I’ve never been in a position like this before, and I have such a greater appreciation for everyone before me that’s tried to race their way in,” Johnson remarked. "It’s very stressful. I’m very thankful we got this Carvana Toyota into this race. I knew the first half of the race was going too easy. I knew there’d be a challenge thrown at us, and we got it just in time. Hats off to J.J. Yeley. He put up a heck of a fight in a very competitive car.”

Bluegreen Vacations Duel #2

The second duel race was won by Christopher Bell, after a tense final-lap battle that nearly resulted in a hard crash. He held off teammate Denny Hamlin and challengers Austin Cindric and Harrison Burton to get the victory. Kaz Grala triumphed over B.J. McLeod to earn the last available spot, sending McLeod packing in his self-owned LiveFast Motorsports ride.

Bell was running second on the final lap, until a push from Burton gave him the requisite momentum to get by Hamlin for the lead. Hamlin threw an aggressive block, one which he speculated afterward should've been even bolder. The move was even more surprising given that Bell and Hamlin are teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Denny Hamlin (#11, leading) came up just short in the second duel race.
Denny Hamlin (#11, leading) came up just short in the second duel race.

“Yeah, it feels good,” Bell said. “These races, man, I don’t know what to think of ’em. Me and Adam Stevens, my crew chief, we have a running joke: I say these races are 100-percent luck. I know that’s not true, but it seems like we’ve been struggling to get to the end of it. I know I’ve been a common denominator in a lot of the wrecks. Feels good to do everything well today.”

The night ended horribly for a handful of major contenders, when a multi-car wreck broke out on lap 48. William Byron got loose in front of Kyle Busch, and wound up hooking Ryan Blaney head-on into the outside wall. Also involved were Brad Keselowski, Riley Herbst, and Noah Gragson.

The starting lineup for the Daytona 500 is as follows:

  1. Joey Logano - #22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford
  2. Michael McDowell - #34 Love's Travel Stops Ford
  3. Tyler Reddick - #45 Nasty Beast Toyota
  4. Christopher Bell - #20 DeWalt Toyota
  5. Chase Elliott - #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
  6. Austin Cindric - #2 Discount Tire Ford
  7. Alex Bowman - #48 Ally Chevrolet
  8. Denny Hamlin - #11 FedEx Toyota
  9. Carson Hocevar - #77 Gainbridge Chevrolet
  10. John Hunter Nemechek - #42 Dollar Tree Toyota
  11. Erik Jones - #43 AdventHealth Toyota
  12. Harrison Burton - Motorcraft/DEX Ford
  13. Daniel Suárez - #99 Freeway Insurance Chevrolet
  14. Zane Smith - #71 WeatherTech Chevrolet
  15. Ty Gibbs - #54 Monster Energy Toyota
  16. Brad Keselowski - #6 Castrol Edge Ford
  17. Kyle Larson - #5 Chevrolet
  18. William Byron - #24 Axalta Chevrolet
  19. Chris Buescher - #17 Fastenal Ford
  20. Chase Briscoe - #14 Mahindra Tractors Ford
  21. Ross Chastain - #1 Busch Light Chevrolet
  22. Justin Haley - #51 TreeTop Apple Juice Ford
  23. Jimmie Johnson - #84 Carvana Toyota
  24. Bubba Wallace - #23 McDonald's Toyota
  25. Ryan Preece - #41 Ford
  26. Kaz Grala - #36 Ruedebusch Ford
  27. Martin Truex Jr. - #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota
  28. A.J. Allmendinger - #16 Celsius Chevrolet
  29. Corey LaJoie - #7 Chili's Chevrolet
  30. Josh Berry - #4 Sunny-D Ford
  31. Todd Gilliland - #38 Gener8tor Ford
  32. Ryan Blaney - #12 Menards Ford
  33. Austin Dillon - #3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
  34. Kyle Busch - #8 Zone Chevrolet
  35. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - #47 Kroger Chevrolet
  36. Riley Herbst - #15 Monster Energy Ford
  37. Daniel Hemric - #31 Cirkul Chevrolet
  38. Noah Gragson - #10 Black Rifle Coffee Co. Ford
  39. Anthony Alfredo - #62 Death Wish Coffee Chevrolet
  40. David Ragan - #60 Ford