DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Four Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas settled into the first four positions after a restart on Lap 65 of 75 in Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona, but Ford drivers found a way to break the Camry chain in the closing laps.
When Brad Keselowski hooked up with Team Penske teammate and eventual race winner Joey Logano, as well as newly minted Ford driver Kevin Harvick, the Fords were able to side-draft the Toyotas, break their momentum and pick them off one by one.
Keselowski had a huge run through the first two corners on the final lap, and race leader Denny Hamlin was powerless to keep his JGR Camry out front. Ultimately, contact between Keselowski’s Ford and Hamlin’s Toyota opened the door for Logano.
A rueful Hamlin described the action in the closing laps.
“There’s really not much I can do differently at the end,” he said. “Perhaps staying in the middle lane there through (Turns) 1 and 2 and trying to side-draft. (Keselowski) had help from the 22 (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 (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.”