Joey Logano took full advantage of a wreck involving leaders Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski and won the Advanced Auto Parts Clash exhibition race Sunday at Daytona International Raceway.
After Hamlin and Keselowski spun on the final lap, Logano edged to the front and beat Kyle Busch, Alex Bowman and Danica Patrick to the green flag. Hamlin, who won the Clash in 2016, had the lead until he cut off the fast-approaching Keselowski. They made contact, allowing Logano to slip past.
“I went to the top when I saw they were going to crash,” Logano said. “It was fun to change our strategy up and figure out a way to win at the end of the race.”
Said Hamlin: “He (Brad Keselowski) had help from the 22 (Team Penske teammate Logano). I was in a bad spot there. He was just coming so much faster than what I was. There’s not much that I could have done to defend.”
Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez and Matt Kenseth comprised the top four spots at several times during the race.
Suarez, a rookie who won last season’s Xfinity Series championship, finished eighth.
The race had been postponed to Sunday after being rained out Saturday night.
Defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson had perhaps the toughest day, finishing 16th after spinning twice earlier in the two-segment, 75-lap race. His first spin took out Kurt Busch on Lap 16.
Hamlin and Keselowski were running 1-2 on the final lap when Hamlin spun, taking Keselowski with him and allowing Logano to move to the front.
Three who mattered
Joey Logano: He was in good position to capitalize if something happened in front of him on the final lap. And that’s exactly what he did.
Denny Hamlin: Last season’s Clash winner led a race-high 48 laps and appeared to be in position to win again before he tried to block Keselowski on the final lap. Hamlin did an impressive job of keeping his car under control.
Brad Keselowski: Signaled to the rest of the field that he means business when it comes to trying to win on the final lap. “I guarantee (Hamlin) knows and everyone else who is watching that I’m going to make that move again,” Keselowski said.
▪ Kurt Busch wrecked on Lap 17 when he was spun out by Jimmie Johnson. It appeared Johnson was beginning to lose control of his No. 48 Chevy when he clipped Busch, who hit the wall hard. It was the first wreck of the season for NASCAR’s top series, which is now sponsored by Monster Energy. Busch’s car, coincidentally (ironically?) is sponsored by Monster.
▪ Keselowski, who started the race on the pole and led 16 of the first 17 laps, had to go to the rear of the field after he drove through too many pit boxes coming off pit road. Kyle Busch also went to the rear of the field after a pit-road speeding penalty.
▪ Patrick’s fourth place was her best finish in any kind of Cup event, official or exhibition. She has still to register a top-five finish in an official Cup race.
They said it
“It’s a good race to knock the rust off. Five laps into the race and I’d made three mistakes already.” – Logano.