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