Cole Whitt spins in first Can-Am Duel race trying to make Daytona 500

Just how bad did Cole Whitt want to make the Daytona 500?

Bad enough to wreck trying.

Needing to race his way into the Daytona 500 via Thursday night's first Can-Am Duel qualifying race, Whitt spun out with 18 of 60 laps remaining while harassing the back bumper of Michael McDowell – another driver trying to race into Sunday's main event.

Turns out, though, that McDowell actually made the big show by virtue of being the fastest qualifier in the race not named Ryan Blaney.

That's because Blaney – who had the option of falling back on his qualifying speed, if needed -- automatically locked up a spot in the 500 by virtue of being the highest finisher among the four Open drivers in the first Duel.

Blaney, a second-generation driver competing in his first full season for the famed Wood Brothers, complained of a vibration on Lap 18, pitted alone under green at the race's halfway point and lost a lap, but ultimately battled back to finish third behind winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. and second-place Joey Logano.

McDowell finished finished 14th, although it ultimately had no bearing on his status for the 500, as Whitt headed for the garage not long after his spin.