NASCAR Cup: Joey Logano wins Clash
No. 22 Team Penske Ford of Joey Logano (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
Joey Logano was in position to take advantage of a last-lap crash between Denny Hamlin and Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski to claim his first Advance Auto Parts Clash win at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on Sunday. The Clash was originally scheduled for a Saturday night green flag, but rain forced the postponement to Sunday.
“It’s cool to win the Clash,” Logano said. “We came close last year, and it’s really need to be in victory lane and a good start to our day.”
Kyle Busch finished second, Alex Bowman was third, Danica Patrick fourth, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five.
Hamlin, last year’s winner of the 75-lap exhibition race for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, dominated the 2017 edition after being up front for a restart following a lap 25 competition caution.
Keselowski finished sixth, and Hamlin wound up 13th.
Keselowski and Hamlin started on the front row by virtue of Friday’s blind draw, and Keselowski led the first 18 laps before a speeding penalty during the first caution that came on lap 16 as a result of a Kurt Busch spin and wreck, set off by contact from Jimmie Johnson. During the caution, Hamlin made a second pit stop to repair damage sustained just before the yellow flag.
“I was just minding my own business in the low groove, and we got tagged in the right-rear,” Busch said. “It’s kind of a shame, all of the hard work and the effort everybody puts into the off-season, Doug Yates and his engines and everybody from Ford and everybody at Stewart-Haas, all of the effort put towards building a car, and we didn’t even make it to the first pit stop, so it’s kind of a bummer.”
Johnson spun, himself, and hit the inside retaining wall to bring out the third caution of the race on lap 50. as a result, he failed to finish the Clash for the sixth-consecutive year.
“I guess last year there were a couple of issues there,” Johnson said. “It’s so bizarre because the car hasn’t been loose anywhere else. The first time I got loose, I got into the No. 41 (Kurt Busch) and crashed him, and I feel terrible for that. And then, that time, I didn’t think it was going to turn around. I was about half-throttle, running along. I’m not sure if the car behind me got close and helped my cause, but it had been very loose off of turn four from the moment I crashed Kurt, on. Maybe the track is changing. We certainly planned to race at night. And it’s weird, because I’ve made a living out of a loose race car, and to have it bite me this afternoon, and unfortunately, take the No. 41 out, I’m disappointed in myself and our situation for that.”
After the first caution, Kyle Busch restarted with the lead, but was busted for speeding during a pit stop just before the competition caution. Hamlin took over up front and had his other two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Daniel Suarez and Matt Kenseth, with him up front.
Hamlin, Suarez, Kenseth and Busch all stayed out during Johnson’s caution to restart inside the top-five, with Busch back up to fifth. By the fourth and final caution on lap 60, brought out when Martin Truex Jr. wrecked after moving down the race track on Kyle Larson, all four JGR drivers — Hamlin, Suarez, Kenseth, and Busch — were in the top-four of the running order.
Keselowski broke up the Gibbs party when he passed Busch for fourth inside the final laps. He got up to second with two laps remaining.