Ryan Blaney: Wins Can-Am Duel 1

Ryan Blaney: Wins Can-Am Duel 1

When France opened Daytona International Speedway in 1959, Wood finish fourth in its first Convertible race and 34th (broken clutch) in his only Daytona 500. Other big-hitters in that race include Chase Elliott (qualified 10th; will start Duel 2 in 5th), who won his Duel past year, Kevin Harvick (qualified 8th, will start Duel 2 in 4th), Kyle Larson (qualified 22nd, will start Duel 2 in 11th) and 2017 Cup champion Martin Truex Jr (qualified 26th, will start Duel 2 in 13th). Meanwhile, the Penske boys still have a stranglehold on the front of the pack. The Clash and the All-Star Race mean nothing as well, and the latter is usually a bad event. He's the man to beat.

Last year's victor Kurt Busch is joined by his teammates Kevin Harvick (2007 Daytona 500 winner), Clint Bowyer and newcomer Aric Almirola. Don't discount the guy in the No. 78 Toyota, however.

A year ago on stock vehicle racing's biggest stage, the auto racing gods finally smiled on his older brother. And while Keselowski will generate plenty of attention despite starting at the back of the field, teammates Logano and Blaney are also expected to be in the hunt.

The qualifying Duel races for the Daytona 500 to set the field from row two on back will be held tomorrow night.

But Elliott said he isn't anxious, that he feels his vehicle and his Chevy teammates will be in it Sunday at the end. Alex Bowman earned the pole in his first race post-Dale Jr. retirement. Oh yeah, they also have that guy named Jimmie Johnson, he's pretty good, and they have a rookie that wins everything - William Byron.

Johnson is the best of his era, and even though Elliott is entering just his third season, he made NASCAR's playoffs a year ago and proved he has the potential to be a star.

But they also know the dynamic changes Sunday. A sheepish Bowman made it clear he'll do whatever the boss says.

It has been a tumultuous time in NASCAR for Kahne, who kicks off the 2018 season with his fifth different team. Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. - they're all gone, and now the 42-year-old Johnson is the last one left from a golden generation of racing. Junior won The Great American Race two times and was highly respected for his restrictor plate racing skills. This will be his 15th Daytona 500 race and, while he hasn't finished in the Top 5, he does have four Top 10 finishes. He has five top ten finishes in nine starts at Daytona. It's unlikely, but he's at least worth a look given his pedigree and knowledge of the track.

Daytona International Speedway's stadium is expected to be packed for NASCAR's most prestigious event, which is scheduled for 200 laps over the 2.5-mile, high-banked tri-oval.

"[The wreck] was tough because since we chose to do this, we've been putting all our work into the [primary] vehicle", said Benton, who purchased several Richard Petty Motorsports cars over the winter in hopes of making the Daytona 500. My feeling after talking to some drivers is that some teams may try some different strategies early on but a few races in should all be close to using the same strategy. Since it's a superspeedway any of the 40 cars has a shot at winning.

Rickey Benton Racing is making the leap from NASCAR Trucks to the main circuit, making its Monster Energy NASCAR Series debut this weekend.

David Gilliland, the 2007 Daytona 500 pole victor, is in a one-off effort for this year's Daytona 500. He'll go off from the second-last spot on the grid.

David Ragan, driver of the number 3 Ford, recalled his optimism following his first Daytona 500: "I wrecked my primary vehicle on Thursday, so that wasn't good". Since going full-time NASCAR Cup racing in 2013, she has seven top-10 finishes. "It was frustrating because we put so much work and effort into it but we just couldn't get there". Elliott didn't seem all that upset Sunday when he didn't win the pole for the first time in his three Daytona 500s.

Although drivers have come and gone, much of the core group at RBR has remained the same over the past 20 years. Hamlin was the last to do it in 2016.

So at the end of the day, I'll be pulling for Blaney and that ridiculously bright yellow Menards #12 machine to take the checkered flag and for him to notch his name on the Harley J. Earl trophy as a Daytona 500 champion.

Fox is broadcasting the race and its television coverage starts at 1 p.m. ET.

"It's so nice to bring the No. 12 vehicle back to Victory Lane".

Odds provided by Bet365.com.

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