- Elliott, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Qualify on DAYTONA 500 Front Row
- Can-Am Duel on Thursday Will Set Rest of the Field for 59th DAYTONA 500
Joey Logano emerged from a wild last lap Sunday to win the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway in the first NASCAR competition of the year on the famed 2.5-mile tri-oval.
Logano, the 2015 DAYTONA 500 champion, inherited the lead in Turn 2 of Lap 75 when last year’s DAYTONA 500 champion Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski crashed while Hamlin was leading. Keselowski made a move to the inside and Hamlin blocked – unsuccessfully. Logano swept wide around the trouble and brought the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford home to the victory in the annual non-points all-star event for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
“Brad had a run and he had to make the move and Denny had to make the block,” Logano said. “I was able to see that the block was too late. I immediately moved to the top because I could see they were going to crash. We were basically in the right place at the right time.”
Kyle Busch nipped Alex Bowman in a door-banging battle for second place, with Danica Patrick – who started the last lap in 10th place – closing fast to finish fourth. For Patrick, it was her best NASCAR result since she finished eighth in the 2013 DAYTONA 500, the year she started on the pole. It also was the best finish by a female driver in NASCAR competition at Daytona International Speedway.
The Advance Auto Parts Clash started at 11:35 Sunday morning after being postponed Saturday night due to rain. The event lived up to its action-packed tradition with five incidents interspersed through the 75 laps that were divided into 25- and 50-lap segments. Two of the incidents involved the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson, who lost control of his iconic No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet twice entering the frontstretch. The first time, on Lap 17, Johnson hit the No. 41 Ford of Kurt Busch, ending Busch’s day. The second time, Johnson hit the inside wall, ending his own run.
Logano’s summary: “It was a pretty fun, eventful race.”
Also Sunday, DAYTONA Qualifying Presented By Kroger locked in the two fastest qualifiers – Chase Elliott (192.872 mph) and his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. (192.864 mph) – for the front row of the 59th annual DAYTONA 500 set for Feb 26. Sunday’s qualifying also established the starting grids for Thursday night’s Can-Am Duel, a pair of 150-mile races that set the field (beyond the front row) for the DAYTONA 500, the Monster Energy Series season-opening race. For the first time since 1971, the Can-Am Duel races are awarding driver and owner points in the Monster Energy Series championship battle.
Elliott, driving the No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet, is on the DAYTONA 500 pole for the second-straight year. He is the fifth driver in the race’s history to repeat as the polesitter; the last was Ken Schrader who had a three-year streak from 1988-90. Last year Elliott was involved in an early-race incident and finished 37th, 40 laps down.
“Unfortunately, we tore up a lot of stuff here last year,” Elliott said, “so I hope we can just try to get to the end of the 500 next. … But, just making it to the end and having yourself in position, obviously we’d love to have a shot to win this thing. So, it would be great and I think we have a car that can do it. So, we’ll find out.”
Earnhardt is back at the wheel of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet after missing most of last season due to concussion-like symptoms. A two-time (2004 and ’14) DAYTONA 500 champion, Earnhardt was the race’s polesitter in 2011.
“I certainly would have loved to have gotten a pole, but my boss man (team owner Rick Hendrick) is happy,” Earnhardt said. “He's got to be thrilled with having his cars up front.”
Two drivers from a group of six who are not guaranteed spots in the DAYTONA 500 field – 36 drivers are guaranteed spots via their status as NASCAR “Charter” entries – clinched spots in the race, based on their speeds Sunday: Elliott Sadler of Tommy Baldwin Racing and Brendan Gaughan of Beard Motorsports. The two fastest “Open” entrants in qualifying clinched spots in the field. The other four Open drivers will have to “race their way in” in the Can-Am Duel.
Tickets for the Can-Am Duel, the 59th annual DAYTONA 500 and other Speedweeks events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.
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