LaJoie , Kennington race way into Daytona 500 field
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Projected lineup DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Corey LaJoie and DJ Kennington clinched berths in their first Daytona 500 , both racing their way into the field in Thursday night's qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway . LaJoie , 25, will make just his third start in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in Sunday's race (Feb. 26, 2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Kennington, a 39-year-old Canadian veteran, also showed his emotions after qualifying for the "Great American Race," just his second start in NASCAR's big leagues.
LaJoie gets 'the call' he's been waiting to hear
Corey LaJoie talks about the phone call he received, getting a ride to race in the Daytona 500.
RPM signs LaJoie to Nationwide ride
Corey LaJoie , 23, to pick up four more races this season
Corey LaJoie to make Sprint Cup debut at Loudon
22-year-old has made just four NASCAR national series starts MORE: Sylvania 300 entry list RELATED: Track your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge and Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Corey LaJoie is scheduled to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . LaJoie , a 22-year-old development driver for Richard Petty Motorsports , plans to drive for Randy Humphrey Racing in Sunday's Sylvania 300 (2 p.m. ET, ESPN), the second battle in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup postseason. Dave Blaney (four races), Joe Nemechek and Nelson Piquet Jr. (one race each) have taken turns driving the Humphrey No. 77 Ford this season. LaJoie has made four NASCAR national series starts -- two each in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series . The product of the NASCAR Next program was also a five-time winner and runner-up in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings in 2012. LaJoie's father, Randy , is a two-time champion of what is now the NASCAR Nationwide Series. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Chase Elliott wins Duel 1 from pole position
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Duel 1 results " Duel 2 results A strong restart with eight laps to go -- and a push from fellow Chevrolet driver Jamie McMurray -- gave Daytona 500 polesitter Chase Elliott the power he needed to maintain the lead and take the checkered flag in Thursday's Can-Am Duel 1 at Daytona International Speedway . Elliott, the youngest Daytona 500 polesitter, also became the youngest Duel winner in the race's history -- the previous record holder was Jeff Gordon . Elliott will start on the pole in Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) for the second straight year. RELATED: Detailed results from Duel 1 " Projected Daytona lineup "We just kind of set out and wanted to race, not ride around," Elliott said after climbing out of his car in Victory Lane. "I think sometimes you ride around and you don't know what your car is like and if it's going to be the way you want it for Sunday. And you can also get yourself in trouble. We took chances and it worked out, so I'm excited for Sunday." McMurray gave Chevrolet a 1-2 finish with a runner-up result in his No. 1 Chip Ganassi ride, while Kevin Harvick finished third in the Stewart-Haas Racing Ford. Brad Keselowski 's No. 2 Team Penske Ford and Matt Kenseth 's No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota rounded out the top five. Keselowski displayed his familiar restrictor-plate power, leading a race-high 28 laps. "We had a good night," Keselowski said. "We knew the 24 car (of Elliott) was going to be strong. It just didn't shake out like I hoped it would in some of those pivotal moments, but that’s part of it. ... We're going to work on some things that make that possible." Duel 1 race determined the inside row for Sunday's Daytona 500 0 with Elliott locked into the top starting position, followed by McMurray (third), Harvick (fifth), etc. behind him. The top 10 finishers received championship points, so race winner Elliott earned 10 points for the season, second-place McMurray nabbed nine, all the way to 10th-place Cole Whitt earning one point. The same system also applied to Duel 2. Corey LaJoie claimed a spot in the "Great American Race," as he was the highest finisher (18th) among the three Open teams in the race. Brendan Gaughan had previously earned a spot by being the fastest Open car during Sunday's qualifying session. Reed Sorenson seemed poised to earn a spot in the Daytona 500 as the highest Open team, but contact from LaJoie with 12 laps to go caused his No. 55 Toyota to spin and it was quickly towed off track. Paul Menard (20th) and Kyle Busch (13th) were also affected in the wreck. Joey Logano (ninth) experienced problems early in the 60-lap race: He fell back in the pack and was forced to pit for a loose wheel that was causing a vibration in the first 20 laps. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
How the Can-Am Duels work, set Daytona 500 field
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Complete lineups for each Duel The Can-Am Duels are a pair of qualifying races held on Feb. 23 (starting at 7 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) that will determine the bulk of the field for the 2017 Daytona 500 (Feb. 26, 2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). NASCAR.com offers a look at how the twin qualifying races work and how they impact the Daytona 500 . Programming info for Can-Am Duels: When: Feb. 23, starting at 7 p.m. ET Where: Daytona International Speedway TV: FS1 Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio What is the format? There are two 60-lap, 150-mile races. Who is in which Duel is determined based on qualifying speeds from Sunday's single-lap qualifying runs. How do the Duels set the Daytona 500 lineup? The Duels determine who will line up in spots 3-38 on the starting grid for the "Great American Race" after Sunday's qualifying speeds saw the Hendrick Motorsports duo of Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr . earn front row spots for the 2017 Daytona 500 . Drivers in the first Duel race will line up on the inside row for the Daytona 500 (odd-numbered starting position), based on the order in which they finish the first Duel race. Drivers in the second Duel race will line up on the outside row for the Daytona 500 (even-numbered starting positions), based on the order in which they finish the second Duel race. Remember, all 36 Charter teams are guaranteed spots in the Daytona 500 . RELATED: Which teams have Charters? How can open teams make the Daytona 500 ? Two open teams will make the field based on their qualifying speed from Sunday's single-car qualifying runs. The other two open spots come from the best finishing open teams in each Duel. Should the fastest qualifying open team driver earn a spot based on his or her Duel result, then the next fastest open team would get in based on qualifying speed. Sadler and Gaughan had the fastest entries among the open teams in single-car qualifying and are locked into the Daytona 500 field. RELATED: Sadler, Gaughan lock in spots The open team entries that will battle for two Daytona 500 spots in the Duels are Timmy Hill (No. 51 Chevrolet), Reed Sorenson (No. 55 Toyota), Corey LaJoie (No. 83 Toyota) and DJ Kennington (No. 96 Toyota). How important are the Duels for drivers locked into the front row? Very important because of the race enhancements NASCAR announced last month. While a Duel win doesn't put you in the Chase, the top 10 drivers in each Duel will earn points heading into the Daytona 500 . Points for Duel results have not occurred before this year. Drivers locked into the front row need to avoid any sort of calamity to keep their starting spot. With qualifying day so early in Speedweeks and a multitude of practices over three days leading up to the Daytona 500 , wrecks resulting in backup cars, engine changes and more are all likely to pop up at some point to affect the green-flag order once on the grid. How are points awarded ? It's similar to stages in the 36 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. Meaning the winner of each Duel will get 10 points down to the 10th-place driver, who will get one point. Two drivers -- each Duel winner -- will head into the Daytona 500 with a share of the point lead.
Starting lineup for the Daytona 500
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! The field is set! Heading into Thursday's Can-Am Duels at Daytona, we already knew the front row for the Daytona 500 -- Chase Elliott is on the pole, and Dale Earnhardt Jr . will start second when the green flag drops Feb. 26 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). We also knew Elliott Sadler and Brendan Gaughan had clinched spots in the field because in Daytona 500 single-car qualifying, they posted the two fastest times among the six Open, or non-Charter teams. That's good for a spot in the field. And both drivers had to fall back on those times with Corey Lajoie and DJ Kennington racing their way into the Daytona 500 . As a reminder, the 36 Charter teams are locked into the Daytona 500 , and every other points race. Duel 1 results set the inside row of the Daytona 500 . Duel 2 set the outside row. * Denotes Open team
Sorenson makes heavy impact with wall
Reed Sorenson gets loose after making contact with Corey LaJoie and hits the wall hard.
Recap: Duels set field for Daytona 500
Jonathan Merryman recaps all of the action in the Can-Am Duels as Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin celebrate in victory lane and contenders DJ Kennington and Corey LaJoie race their way into the Daytona 500.
Changing planes, changing plans: One fan's journey to Daytona
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! What won't NASCAR fans do for each other? Not a lot. I want to tell you about the experience of one particular NASCAR fan this past weekend. Last Saturday morning, my brother Randy and his wife, Karen, both NASCAR fans, were traveling from Salt Lake City to St. Kitts with a change of flights in Charlotte. NASCAR fan Randy Bragg was traveling from Cleveland to Daytona Beach, also with a change of flights in Charlotte. The three happened to meet as they shared a table grabbing a bite to eat while waiting for their connecting flights. Bragg was decked out in NASCAR/Junior Nation gear and my brother, being his chatty and social self, struck up a conversation with him about NASCAR. Bragg explained to my brother that his trip to Daytona was admittedly set up to be a bit of a disappointment. You see, Bragg had purchased tickets for the Daytona 500 weekend, but had mistakenly arranged his plane ticket for the wrong weekend. He was still making the trip to Daytona despite the mix-up. My brother reached out to me from Charlotte and we immediately got the ball rolling to make sure Bragg's visit would be one that he wouldn't soon forget. Bragg, a former lineman for Cleveland Public Power with 15 years of service, is disabled after a long fight with astrocytoma -- a form of brain cancer. He is a survivor, having withstood 18 different surgeries about a decade ago. He continues to suffer from hydrocephalus and has three shunts that work to drain the water on his brain. When Bragg landed in Daytona, he went straight to the track where my colleague, Meghan Miley, met him with Clash tickets and a Hot Pass. Miley thought he was a family friend of ours and was unaware we'd never even met. While he wasn't a family friend at the time, he is now. Bragg made his way to his seat to enjoy the races and when the skies opened up that night, canceling the race, he was unable to find a ride service that would accommodate his motorized chair. His sister called me from Ohio, worried that her brother wasn't going to be able to find his way to his hotel. I called Bragg, we set a meeting point, loaded him up and went to find his hotel. He'd started from Cleveland at 5 that morning and was exhausted by the time he checked in. His sister was relieved that he was safe. Bragg texted me at 5 a.m. Sunday, saying he was ready to see some racing. I took his coffee order, stopped for donuts, picked him up and we headed to the track. Bragg had never been to a superspeedway before, so we took an up-close look at the DIS banking before heading to the garage. As we went under the tunnel he asked, "Is that the track above us?" We then grabbed breakfast with the NASCAR officials and had a chance to meet Daytona track president, Chip Wile. Bragg met a host of other industry folks and was absolutely amazed when Richard Childress spent a good deal of time with us that morning. Randy Bragg poses near the No. 21 car of Ryan Blaney . After Daytona 500 qualifying was complete, I told Bragg my family was headed to New Smyrna Speedway for the K&N Pro Series East opener -- and so off we went with our new friend to take in more racing. Bragg is someone who knows what he wants. On the way back to the hotel last night, he had me go through the drive-in at McDonald's where he ordered a large coffee with 5 creamers and 3 Equals and an apple pie. It seemed the perfect ending to a perfect day. Bragg had opened up to me as the day went along. His past 10 years have been trying, to say the least. In addition to the health challenges, his mother died last year, his marriage had failed, and he has two sons that he wishes he was more connected to. There's no telling what can happen when NASCAR Nation comes together. I see a lot of compassion every day in this sport. This is no isolated example -- it's part of who we are. I don't tell this story to say, "Hey, look at what I did." I share it to show that NASCAR is a little bit different from other sports and that difference is not insignificant. In this case, it boiled down to a handful of NASCAR fans (my brother, sister-in-law, and me) coming together to make sure that a fellow fan was taken care of. Mission accomplished. Jim Cassidy is Senior Vice President of Racing Operations for NASCAR.
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