Jones Wins A Crash-Filled Clash at Daytona

For the last 40 years, The Clash… or should we say The Crash at Daytona is an exhibition race held at the start of the new season, a week before the Daytona 500. It’s a race that features only the best of the best drivers who have a history of winning either races or poles. This year, the 18 drivers competing were diminished and demolished down to just 6 by the last 2 laps. Only 5 of these were on the lead lap and only 1 did not incur damage from a wreck.

LAP 1: Ryan Newman led the small field to green along side Brad Keselowski in 2nd place. The lineup was determined via a blind draw by crew chiefs in place of traditional qualifying. 

LAP 4: Martin Truex Jr in the #19 made a risky move to the top lane and took the lead from Newman. Shortly after, the pack began to run single file on the outside line. 

LAP 8: It became apparent that Team Chevrolet was trying to execute a pre-planned strategy when all 7 Chevy cars became organized on the bottom lane, staying close enough to the lead pack so they wouldn’t lose the draft, but far enough away to keep from running full throttle. 

LAP 10: Truex incurred debris on the grill of his car and dropped back to 4th, using air to remove the debris without having to pit. This gave the lead to Brad Keselowski, who set a steady pace ahead of the single-file pack. 

LAP 25: It was assumed that part of Chevrolet’s plan was to pit just before the competition caution and try to save gas to play a fuel-mileage game until the end. However, the Ford drivers caught on and pitted first. 

CAUTION – LAP 26: The yellow flag waved for the competition caution which allowed the Chevys and Toyotas to pit. Having already made their stops, the pack of Fords stayed out with Keselowski reclaiming the lead. 

LAP 46: The Fords and Toyotas made another pit stop for fuel, finally giving Chevrolets the top spots. The lead changed several times between William Byron, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, and Joey Logano who found himself in the wrong pack of cars. 

CAUTION – LAP 65: The first accident-related caution came when the Fords and Toyotas made their way back into the lead pack, whereupon Kyle Busch attempted to shoot through the middle for 1st place. Joey Logano made a few reckless blocks on Kyle until both cars got loose and collected several other drivers as they wrecked. This included Logano’s teammates of Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski as well as Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, and many others. Busch and Keselowski were out of the race following this incident. 

CAUTION – LAP 72: On the restart, the #24 of William Byron and the #6 of Ryan Newman both spun their tires, stacking up the rest of the field and causing a major wreck on the frontstretch.  This brought out the yellow flag before the green even flew. Martin Truex Jr, Alex Bowman, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, as well as Blaney and Larson were all involved in the wreck. 

CAUTION – LAP 77: During the first overtime attempt, first-place Denny Hamlin was bumped to the bottom of the track by Chase Elliott, who was getting an aggressive push from Clint Bowyer. Hamlin’s #11 Toyota Camry wiggled slightly but settled into the lead on the bottom lane. Seconds later, Hamlin shot sideways and collected Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Aric Almirola, Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, and Kevin Harvick. The race was red flagged for nearly 10 minutes as several drivers exited their cars and the on-track carnage was removed. 

CAUTION – LAP 82: On the 2nd overtime attempt, Chase Elliott again received an aggressive push from Clint Bowyer, and dove to the inside of Kyle Larson, who was in the lead. Larson threw a late block that pushed Elliott down the track and resulted in yet another wreck that involved Erik Jones in the #20. Elliott was out of the race while Larson and Jones made repairs and returned to the track. 

CHECKERED FLAG – LAP 88: On the final lap, with Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman jockeying for the lead, Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin (who was a lap down) and Erik Jones locked bumpers and quickly tandem drafted through the ridiculously small field of just 4 cars. Hamlin pushed Jones to the finish line for Jones to claim the first Clash win of his career. 

RESULTS: 

  1. Erik Jones
  2. Austin Dillon
  3. Clint Bowyer
  4. Kyle Larson
  5. Ryan Newman
  6. Denny Hamlin
  7. Chase Elliott
  8. Ryan Blaney
  9. Joey Logano
  10. Aric Almirola
  11. Jimmie Johnson
  12. Kurt Busch
  13. Kevin Harvick
  14. William Byron 
  15. Alex Bowman
  16. Martin Truex Jr
  17. Brad Keselowski
  18. Kyle Busch 

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