DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Joey Logano got an unplanned assist from Team Penske teammate Brad Keselowski, who took out race-leader Denny Hamlin in turn one on the final lap, allowing Logano to win Sunday’s rain-rescheduled Advance Auto Parts Clash.
The non-points race at Daytona Int’l Speedway was held before Sunday’s Daytona 500 qualifications after it was postponed by rain on Saturday night.
Logano won his first Clash in nine starts. His No. 22 Ford finished 1.121 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch’s Toyota, who edged Alex Bowman in the No. 88 Chevrolet for second.
Bowman was the driving Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s No. 88 car in the Clash and Earnhardt was in the FOX broadcast booth. Bowman qualified for the race after winning a pole late last season while driving Earnhardt’s car while Earnhardt was recovering from a concussion.
Hamlin was the leader heading into turn one on the last lap when Keselowski went low. Hamlin’s Toyota came down the track for the block and the two made contact. At first Hamlin appeared to save it, but by the time he got into turn two the wiggling car made contact with another machine sending Hamlin into a spin.
NASCAR officials did not call for the caution flag and Logano went on to win the race.
“It’s a momentum builder,” Logano said. “It knocks the rust off for everybody. The only way I was going to beat those Gibbs cars was to break them up. We were able to get our ways up front to make the big move there. Brad was going to make the move and I was going to follow him.
“When the 11 (Hamlin) came down I saw the writing on the wall and decided to move up. It’s a great way to start Speedweeks.”
The victory by Logano was Ford’s first in the Advance Auto Parts Clash since 2004 when Dale Jarrett went to victory lane.
Keselowski finished sixth just behind fifth-place Kevin Harvick and fourth-place Danica Patrick.
“That’s just the nature of the beast, I got up beside Denny and everything happened so fast,” Keselowski said. “It was going to be a heck of a finish to the end with Denny side-by-side but we didn’t get that far. Joey Logano worked very well to give me a push and congrats to him for winning.”
Hamlin’s bid for victory ended once he tried to make the block on Keselowski on the final lap.
“There’s really not much I can do differently at the end,” Hamlin said. “Perhaps staying in the middle lane there through one and two and trying to side draft. He (Brad Keselowski) had help from the 22 (Joey 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. We lined up so well as Toyota teammates throughout the race that once those guys started breaking that up and leap frogging, he (Keselowski) had commitment from the 22 and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and when they were able to back up there that really put us at a speed differential.
“The 2 (Keselowski) was coming with a huge run and I tried to do everything I could to block and cover the bottom before he got there but he was coming at such a higher rate of speed I probably didn’t get there in time.”
The Monster car driven by Kurt Busch was the first to crash in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup contest, although this was not a points race. Busch’s Ford was hit from behind by Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet when the seven-time Cup champion had his car step out on him. That sent Busch’s car into the outside wall past turn four and the caution flag waved on lap 18. Busch’s Ford went behind the pit wall while Johnson was able to continue.