Almirola and Austin Dillon split the Duel races at Daytona

It was all Aric Almirola and his No. 10 Smithfield Ford for Stewart Haas Racing to start the season off and get a good lineup for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Leading all but eight of the laps it was a dominating run for the team.

“This thing is really fast and I can’t wait until Sunday. Just proud of everybody back at the shop, Doug Yates and Ford Motor Company all of our partners. “It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten to sit here and do an interview at the start/finish line.” Said Almirola

Christopher Bell who moved from the now shuttered Leavine Family Racing to Joe Gibb Racing formally to take over the No. 20 machine for the season ended up right there in second behind Almirola by barely four one-hundredth of a second. Newman followed closely behind in the third spot and comes into the weekend after a horrific crash in 2020 at the end of the race.

But it was Ryan Preece who was able to get around Ty Dillon vying for a spot in the show in open cars that sent Dillon back home in the No. 96 he is piloting part-time this season for Gaunt Brothers Racing.

Race one got in just in time to see a two-hour rain delayed start to the second duel of the night.

When it was all over with it was Austin Dillon and the black Richard Childress Racing No. 3 going to victory lane for the night. Dillon wasn’t without help when Harvick shoved the car of Dillon up to the front and battled to the end with newcomer team 23XI racing and Bubba Wallace to the flag in second place in their first outing as a team.

“I was talking to spotter before the restart and he was like we’ve got the 4. I made a decent block on the backstretch and just a heckuva push through three and four: Said Austin Dillon

Harvick would finish up third with Ky. Busch and Chase Elliott rounding out the top-5.

The Daytona 500 is setup to kick off Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX