Daytona Beach, FL – The “Big One” leads to a win for Jimmie Johnson.
The two-time Daytona 500 champion takes the 41st annual Advance Auto Parts Clash yesterday (February 10th) at Daytona International Speedway after bumping into Paul Menard near the end of the race, causing a wreck which involved 15 other drivers.
Afterward, the seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion said it wasn’t the way he wanted to win the non-points race, but that’s why he was here.
“Certainly hate to see all these cars torn up,” Johnson told reporters afterward. “I think it was more of a racing thing than anything. I didn’t drive through a car and cause a wreck.”
The race – which had been red-flagged earlier due to rain – was called soon afterward due to the poor weather, which Johnson admitted was a factor behind his decision to pass Menard – who had been leading much of the race – on the inside soon after the restart.
“Knowing the rain was coming – we could see it coming – I knew that was probably my lap to make the move,” Johnson added. “I had a great ride down the back. I got below him before he blocked it. And then I think he came down a little to defend and block.”
Former Daytona 500 champion Kurt Busch finished second followed by Brad Keselowski.
The 20-driver field featured pole winners from the 2018 season, past Clash champions, past Daytona 500 champions who competed full-time in 2018 and drivers who qualified for the 2018 Monster Energy Series Playoffs.
It was the second Clash win for Johnson in his career and also his second race win of the day. He won his age group during the Daytona Beach Half Marathon.
The #48 driver also took third place during 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger on Sunday, joining three other Hendrick Motorsports drivers in the top four on the starting grid. That includes pole winner William Byron, whose #24 posted the fastest lap of 194.305 miles per hour.
It’s the fifth year in a role Hendrick Motorsports took the pole for the Daytona 500.
The qualifying also set the starting grid for Thursday night’s Gander RV Duel At Daytona races, with Byron manning the pole during one of the races and teammate Alex Bowman doing the same for the other since he finished second-fastest during qualifying.
Speedweeks races opened on Saturday with Harrison Burton – the 18-year-old son of former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton – winning the Lucas Oil 200 Driven By General Tire in overtime, the season-opener for the ARCA series. It was Burton’s first career race at Daytona International Speedway.
Prior to the race, ARCA agreed to a multi-year extension of its long-running sponsorship contract with the home improvement chain Menards.