American NASCAR talents Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott have respectively taken out Daytona Duel qualifying races on Thursday.

The two 60-lap, 150-mile races help decide the majority of the grid with the first race deciding odd-numbered positions 3 to 39 and the second race deciding the even-numbered positions 4 all the way down to 40.

Pole position and second were settled on February 11th where preliminary qualifying for the Daytona 500 – one of the iconic events on the NASCAR calendar – decided the front row along with the starting grids for the two Duel races.

Hendrick Motorsport’s Alex Bowman will start from pole position in his Chevrolet, with Denny Hamlin joining him on the front row in the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota – known as the outside pole position.

Both sprint races consisted of many high-profile drivers failing to reach the chequered flag with four caution periods alone in Race 1. NASCAR winner Jimmie Johnson, an 83-time race-winner, cut his right rear tyre entering Turn 1 on Lap 8 which sent him into a spin up the racetrack and striking the back of Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola. He will start at the rear of the field in a backup car for the main event.

Team Penske Ford driver Brad Keselowski will also start from the tail end of the field after being pinched by the #1 entry of Jamie McMurray in Race 2. Californian Kyle Larson was also involved in an early four-car wreck.

With the front row starts already secured and not wanting to risk any damage to their cars, Bowman and Hamlin drove conservatively in order to keep out of trouble and be in the best possible position for the green flag on Sunday.

The 2018 Daytona 500 will be the 60th running of the event that will be contested over 200 laps on the 4-kilometre superspeedway. It will be the first race of the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Images via LAT Images

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Luke McCullough

Melbourne Based - 17 Grand Prix attendances and counting in Australia, Singapore, Canada, France, Austria and Great Britain.