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Tyler Reddick Snatches Bluegreen Vacations Duel No. 1 Win

Tyler Reddick celebrates his Bluegreen Duel No. 1 victory at Daytona on Thursday night. (Photo: Cornnell Chu | The Podium Finish)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Tyler Reddick applied some of Ricky Bobby’s philosophy on Thursday night by remembering to finish first at Daytona.

The first of the Bluegreen Vacations Duel races appeared to be the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 show with Kyle Larson appearing to be the class of the field. Immediately leaping into the lead past Daytona 500 pole sitter Joey Logano, Larson led the way for the opening four laps.

Erik Jones put the spurs to his No. 43 AdventHealth Toyota Camry to the lead from Laps 5 to 9 before Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the defending Daytona 500 champion, enjoyed the first of his three stints as the leader.

The redesigned Toyota Camry appeared to be a rocket ship in race conditions as Martin Truex Jr. led 14 of the next 15 laps. However, Larson reassumed command of the race lead save for the race’s lone pit stop cycle.

In the final six laps, Larson battled Daniel Suárez for the lead, set for what looked like a Chevrolet duel for the win.

However, on the final lap, Reddick, who started 19th in the 21-car field, made a brilliant drive to take the lead from Larson with an inside pass in Turn 3. From there, it was a mad scramble for those behind the 23XI Racing driver coming to the stripe.

By 0.056 seconds, Reddick bested Chase Elliott to the stripe to earn the victory and third starting position for Sunday’s Daytona 500. The 28-year-old Corning, California, native sang his praises on his new mount.

It was evident that Tyler Reddick had a fast No. 45 Nasty Beast Toyota Camry at Daytona. (Photo: Cornnell Chu | The Podium Finish)

“This new Toyota Camry is truly a beast,” Reddick said. “It was a lot of fun to drive. It’s great to get this Nasty Beast Toyota in victory lane, that’s for sure. As for me, I’m still making a lot of mistakes, but I had a good restart. It was a lot of fun tonight.”

Although Elliott came up a spot short, he likely had the next, best amount of fun in his No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro. Like his father, Bill, in 1997, the 28-year-old Dawsonville, Georgia native hopes to have a strong, comeback season starting off at Daytona International Speedway.

“I thought our NAPA Chevy was pretty good,” Elliott said. “I mean all things considered, we’re locked-in from qualifying, setup-wise and stuff, so I thought our car drove pretty good considering everything you try to do to go fast for a lap. I was pleased.

“I thought we had a good night of execution to put ourselves in a good position there. We came up a little bit short, but I thought overall, it was a solid effort. We kept the car in one piece, which is a big deal I feel like for Sunday. Looking forward to it.”

Alex Bowman, also on the comeback trail, rounded out the podium finishers with a solid third place effort. After six consecutive years of starting on the front row, it seemed that Bowman and crew chief Blake Harris learned a great deal about race conditions on Thursday night.

Alex Bowman looked fast and competitive during Thursday night’s Bluegreen Vacations Duel No. 1 at Daytona. (Photo: Cornnell Chu | The Podium Finish)

“It was a good night,” Bowman said. “I think we were all a bit nervous on how the No. 48 Ally Chevy was going to drive, and honestly, it drove really well. I think there’s a couple things we can kind of clean up all around, but I was really happy with my car.

“I hate that I let the No. 54 (Ty Gibbs) get to our outside before that caution getting off of (Turn) 2 and just kind of missed the block there. It put us back some track position.”

Upon reflection of the dash off Turn 4, Bowman empathized with Larson, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, while trying to maximize his position.

“I hate whatever happened with the No. 5 (Larson) getting into Turn 3,” he said. “I knew I was catching him too fast to hit him and I lifted. I don’t know if it was air or if I just barely got him loose.”

A year ago, Carson Hocevar was searching for his first NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series championship. Now, the Portage, Michigan, native looks to have a spectacular “Great American Race” after placing fourth in his No. 77 Gainbridge/Zeigler Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro.

“We all had a game plan to just kind of ride and save as much fuel as possible,” Hocevar said. “I got disconnected a little bit and had to make the best pit entry of my life to catch up. I had a big gap to make and got everything out of it. I kind of lost the draft a little bit, but luckily I had a really strong car with Corey (LaJoie) behind me to get caught back up.

“We made some really good moves to put myself in a decent spot there before the caution and get track position. I did my best to be a good Chevy teammate and help the boys over there at Hendrick Motorsports and get the No. 9 (Elliott) out front. Just a little too draggy compared to them and I just couldn’t keep connected.”

Despite placing ninth and winding up with a 17th starting position for Sunday’s Daytona 500, Larson considered the positives from his performance and effort.

Kyle Larson was in position to win the Bluegreen Vacations Duel No. 1 before needing to make a nifty save to finish ninth on Thursday night. (Photo: Cornnell Chu | The Podium Finish)

“Yeah, I felt really good about my car,” Larson said. “I haven’t seen the replay… I don’t think Alex (Bowman) touched me, but he got really close and it took the air off the back. I got sideways in the corner and thankfully was able to save it. Just bummed that I wasn’t able to finish up front.

“That sucks, but our No. 5 Chevy was fast, and I think we learned a lot. Honestly every move we made was good, it just didn’t work out again. So, yeah, learned a lot and we will take it to Sunday.”

Perhaps the biggest and dramatic storyline was the battle for the transfer spot into the Daytona 500. Jimmie Johnson duked it out against JJ Yeley to clinch a Daytona 500 starting position.

At times, both drivers raced wheel-to-wheel, trading paint, before Johnson bested the versatile Yeley, finishing 12th to the latter’s 16th place result.

It does not matter if Johnson starts 23rd considering LEGACY Motor Club’s switch from Chevrolet to Toyota during the offseason. The fact that the seven-time Cup champion made the field made for a rewarding, intense journey to NASCAR’s prestigious race.

“It was intense,” Johnson said. “With probably three to go he threw a great block on me on the front stretch and it kind of perked me up and I realized just what kind of battle I was in for in the closing laps.

“Hats off to them for the hard effort they put into this. This is not easy, and it stinks that a car has got to go home. They put up a heck of a fight and we’re fortunate to get in.”

In the meantime, Reddick may have made himself a viable candidate to win this year’s Daytona 500. For all the talk that the usual suspects like Denny Hamlin, Elliott, Logano and Johnson receive during Daytona Speedweeks, perhaps the two-time NASCAR XFINITY Series champion may have something to say on Sunday.

“Just push. I just kept pushing,” Reddick said. “Everyone at Toyota and TRD put in great work on this brand-new Camry. It really does help because I can push that much harder. A good first outing for us on the speedway. Certainly, I’ve got to clean up some mistakes. I can’t seem to still hit pit road without hitting something, but hey we still won.”

Bluegreen Vacations Duel No. 1 at Daytona Race Results
Finish Start Car No. Driver Sponsor/Make Status
1 19 45 Tyler Reddick Nasty Beast Toyota Running
2 3 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Running
3 9 48 Alex Bowman Ally Chevrolet Running
4 20 77 Carson Hocevar (R) Gainbridge/Zeigler Auto Group Chevrolet Running
5 11 43 Erik Jones AdventHealth Toyota Running
6 10 99 Daniel Suárez Freeway Insurance Chevrolet Running
7 1 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil 400 Running
8 15 54 Ty Gibbs Monster Energy Toyota Running
9 2 5 Kyle Larson Chevrolet Running
10 8 17 Chris Buescher Fastenal Ford Running
11 5 1 Ross Chastain Busch Light Chevrolet Running
12 18 84 Jimmie Johnson Carvana Toyota Running
13 7 41 Ryan Preece Ford Running
14 14 19 Martin Truex Jr. Bass Pro Shops Toyota Running
15 17 7 Corey LaJoie Chili’s Catch-a-Rita Chevrolet Running
16 21 44 JJ Yeley (i) 100 Coconut Water Chevrolet Running
17 6 38 Todd Gilliland gener8tor Ford Running
18 4 3 Austin Dillon Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Running
19 11 62 Anthony Alfredo (i) Death Wish Coffee Chevrolet Running
20 16 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Boost by Kroger.Cottonelle Chevrolet DVP
21 13 31 Daniel Hemric Cirkul Chevrolet Accident

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

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