Erik Jones wins crash filled Clash at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 09: Erik Jones, driver of the #20 Sport Clips Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway on February 09, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Erik Jones didn’t so much as charge across the line, rather he was pushed by his teammate Denny Hamlin. What was left of Jones’ Toyota, flapping hood and all, had survived a crash fest that was NASCAR’s preseason non-points exhibition race.

The story of Sunday’s Busch Clash was the lack of cars that survived. Only six of the original 18 entries were running at the end with only five on the lead lap.

Up until lap 66 of the scheduled 75 the only caution was a competition one at lap 25.  It was a battle of the manufacturers as Toyota and Ford pitted prior to that caution while the Chevy contingent waited and pitted under the caution. That seemed to setup a fuel mileage duel between the Toyota-Ford and Chevy camps, as it appeared that the Chevy group could go all the way.

After the Toyota-Ford group pitted for a second time the Chevy’s were in the lead single field. The Toyota-Ford group clawed their way back however and as the laps were winding down the field was back together.

It all began to unravel on lap 66.  Joey Logano was in the lead and tried to block a charging Kyle Busch. The two made contact entering turn 4 sweeping up Brad Keselowski.  Ryan Blaney and Jimmie Johnson also suffered damage but were able to continue.

A bizarre accident occurred on the ensuing restart.  As the field crossed the line William Byron was hit from behind by Ryan Newman.  The accordion effect behind them sent the rest of the field sprawling just past the start-finish line and setup an overtime finish.

That would turn out to be just the first attempt at an overtime finish.

On the first overtime finish attempt Denny Hamlin tried to block Chase Elliott for the lead coming into turn 4 and spun later saying he had lost a tire. Most of the rest of the field was swept up and a short red flag period ensued.

When the field was put back under yellow only six cars were running; only five of those were on the lead lap.  Elliott and Larson would tangle before the field took the white setting up the third, and final overtime.  Jones would hang on being pushed by Hamlin who was the car a lap down, for the win.

Austin Dillon, Clint Bowyer, Larson and Newman rounded out the top five of those who finished.

“I was hoping I could get pushed, get up front, that Denny was going to help us,” Jones said.  “That didn’t exactly work out.  Everybody was slicing with that few of cars.  He just locked on and we stuck together.”

2020 Busch Clash Results

1    Erik Jones    88    —
2    Austin Dillon    88    0.697
3    Clint Bowyer    88    0.717
4    Kyle Larson    88    0.949
5    Ryan Newman    88    1.596
6    Denny Hamlin    87    1 lap
7    Chase Elliott    82    OUT
8    Ryan Blaney    78    OUT
9    Joey Logano    78    OUT
10    Aric Almirola    77    OUT
11    Jimmie Johnson    77    OUT
12    Kurt Busch    77    OUT
13    Kevin Harvick    77    OUT
14    William Byron    74    OUT
15    Alex Bowman    74    OUT
16    Martin Truex Jr.72    OUT
17    Brad Keselowski    66    OUT
18    Kyle Busch    65    OUT

Greg Engle