Joey Logano kicks off 2017 season with win in the Clash
Joey Logano won Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash, the 75-lap exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway that kicked off the 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series season.
On the last lap, leader Denny Hamlin tried to block the onrushing Brad Keselowski but made contact and lost control, allowing Logano and his No. 22 Team Penske Ford to win the Clash for the first time to go with his 2015 Daytona 500 victory.
“Everything was going really fast,” said Logano. “Everything was going on and I was just in the right place at the right time.”
Finishing second was Kyle Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota followed by Alex Bowman in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and a surprising Danica Patrick in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.
Patrick’s fourth-place finish was the best of any female driver in a NASCAR Premier Series race, although the Clash does not count in the points standings.
The race was originally scheduled to be run Saturday night, but a band of persistent showers across Central Florida forced NASCAR to postpone the race to Saturday morning.
The Clash featured a field of 17 drivers, but with no points on the line, drivers could afford to be aggressive.
Keselowski started from the pole and led early, with stiff competition from Hamlin, the three-time and defending race winner. Shortly after the Lap-10 mark, Keselowski picked up his Team Penske teammate Logano right behind him in the lead draft.
But a pit-road penalty during the first caution dropped Keselowski deep in the field and after pit stops following the first 25-lap segment, Hamlin led teammates Matt Kenseth and Daniel Suarez.
And once out front, the JGR Toyotas worked in lockstep, as they did in winning last year’s Daytona 500. But on the last lap, Keselowski got a run on Hamlin and that opened the door for Logano.
“The Toyotas are so selfless, I guess is the way to look at it,” said Logano. “They are able to work together and think of one car of winning, and they’re really good at that.
“We had to think the same way as Ford and with Stewart-Haas and the Penske cars and we were able to get a good enough run to work together enough to break them up and make the passes and then there at the end was kind of a mess,” said Logano.