Erik Jones Wins Crash-Filled Busch Clash At Daytona International Speedwayby Hunter Thomas February 9, 2020 0 comments
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Despite an error on pit road and being involved in multiple accidents, Erik Jones won the crash-filled Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.
Following four multi-car crashes in the 75-lap race, only six of the starting 18 drivers crossed the finish line. In NASCAR Overtime, Denny Hamlin, who was two laps down, pushed his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Erik Jones to the checkered flag.
“It was an awesome race,” said Jones, driver of the No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota. “I’ve got to give a huge thanks to Denny (Hamlin) there in the 11. He stuck with us there that whole last lap. This thing wasn’t the fastest car, I don’t think, left in the race, but we brought it home. I owe him one for that one for sure. Really cool though.”
The win marks the first for Jones and the ninth for Joe Gibbs Racing in the non-points paying race.
Brad Keselowski led the majority of the laps prior to the competition caution on lap 27. Most of the Ford and Toyota teams pitted together before the caution flag was thrown, while the Chevrolet teams gambled on their strategy to pit during the break.
The race went green and stayed that way for more than 30 laps, but all chaos broke loose on lap 67, when contact between Joey Logano and Kyle Busch ignited the first ‘Big One’ of the race. The two drivers made contact while battling for the top spot in Turn 4. Busch made a move to dive below Logano and was blocked. The contact sent Logano into Busch, who then hit Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski.
Busch said, “I was going to look low, but I knew he was driving low, so then I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to go high,’ and then he drove up the racetrack in front of me, and then I was, like, ‘OK, now I’ve got to cut back down and cut low.’ When I did, I touched him (Logano) just a little bit, which then turned his car, and then we were just sandwiched and the wreck was on. I don’t know. Either you can race or you can wreck. The reason why we ride in single file is because we don’t know how to race. Just a product of a few bad decisions there and we’re all crashed. We had a good M&M’S Camry, but I guess we’ll move on to focus on next weekend.”
On the restart, several drivers spun their tires, and 10 cars went spinning on the frontstretch moments after taking the green flag.
“I feel bad about the deal on the restart,” Ryan Newman said. “There must have been oil or something on the track for all of us to do what we did there. Nevertheless we crashed and looked kind of stupid coming to the green. I guess that happens. It wasn’t the peak of stupidity today though, that is for sure.”
Martin Truex Jr. received the most damage as he had to retire from the event after slamming the outside wall.
“I don’t know to be honest with you,” Truex said. “Trying to get going, trying to get the 10 (Aric Almirola) going there on the bottom. I got a good jump there and just got hit in the right-rear (tire) and turned into the fence. Not sure what happened. It sucks. Superspeedways are not good to me.”
On lap 79, Denny Hamlin lost a right rear tire while leading. Hamlin’s No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota sharply whipped around in front of the pack, blocking the way as 10 other drivers collided.
The final accident of the race occurred on lap 84, when Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson made contact while aggressively battling for the lead in Turn 4. Larson blocked Elliott’s move for the lead, and the two crashed in-between Turns 3 and 4. Race winner, Jones had nowhere to go and was involved as well.
“It was a little crazy there, a lot of crashes,” Larson said. “But I still had a shot to win with a beat-up car. It was cool to race for a win like that, but it just didn’t work out there for me.”
The final restart of the afternoon featured all six remaining drivers jockeying for position. Only five of the drivers were on the lead lap. Ryan Newman led the pack around to the white flag, but it was Jones and Hamlin hooking up in the draft and flying to the race lead entering Turn 3 on the final lap. Once out front, the Joe Gibbs Racing duo was uncatchable.
Finishing second was Austin Dillon, followed by Clint Bowyer, Kyle Larson and Ryan Newman.
Up next on the schedule for the NASCAR Cup Series is the Bluegreen Vacations Duels at Daytona on Thursday, February 13. The first Duel will get underway at 7 p.m. Both races will broadcast live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN).
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images