Brad Keselowski wins The Clash at Daytona as field wrecks behind him
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – For once, as he put it, Brad Keselowski didn’t “choke away” a chance at victory during Speedweeks at Daytona.
Just the opposite. Taking the lead on Lap 39 of the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway, Keselowski held it the rest of the way to win the exhibition kick-off race to the 2018 season, leading Team Penske to a 1-2-4 finish.
And Keselowski, who led 43 of the 75 laps, took the checkered flag with a large piece of debris on the nose of his No. 2 Ford Fusion, with the water temperature in the engine rising to dangerous levels.
“I was worried about the run (of cars behind him), but the car was way overheating there at the end, and I was more worried about it blowing up than anything else,” Keselowski said. “(Engine builder) Doug Yates and his guys did a good job giving me something real durable to take all that and keep digging.
“I’m really proud of the whole effort here. What a way to start Speedweeks, putting the Miller Lite Ford in Victory Lane. I’m really proud of my team… I felt like we were due today.”
Keselowski has five victories at Talladega, but his only other superspeedway win came in the July 2016 race at Daytona. During February, the 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion was batting .000, making Sunday’s start to Speedweeks a special occasion.
“It means a lot,” Keselowski said. “I’ve never won anything here during Speedweeks, and I feel like I’ve choked them away, to be quite honest. You need one to break through. Hopefully, this is our breakthrough.”
Last year’s Clash winner, Joey Logano, finished second to his teammate, with Kurt Busch running third and Team Penske newbie Ryan Blaney fourth—with Ford drivers sweeping the top four positions.
Austin Dillon, who started from the pole, came home fifth in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, avoiding a last-lap melee that started when contact from Kyle Larson’s Chevrolet turned Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 into the outside wall on the backstretch.
Johnson failed to finish the Clash for the seventh straight year.
After Keselowski grabbed the lead, the field gradually strung out to single file in the top lane, with smaller groups of cars unable to make significant runs on the bottom. On the final lap, however, Kurt Busch darted past Blaney, who had dropped to the inside in a last-ditch effort to win the race.
Behind the lead cars, Larson tagged Johnson and turned him into the wall, collecting the cars of Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne and defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. in the wreck.
Kurt Busch, the defending Daytona 500 winner, was pleased with his third-place result and what it might portend for his defense in the “Great American Race.”
“Project number one was to do all the laps so that we could understand more about our tires and our setup and the way that the car was going to handle,” Busch said. “Then step number two was to have fun. I had a blast.
“I wanted to make another move on the last lap but ran out of steam because the guys behind me got too wide. I couldn’t jump in there and go after the Penske guys. It’s a good day for Ford and good day for us and Billy Scott, my new crew chief. Now we’ll go back and debrief about our car.”
Entry List / Drivers Eligible
Official Entry List for the 2018 Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona:
1) #1 Jamie McMurray, Cessna Chevrolet
2) #2 Brad Keselowski, Miller Lite Ford
3) #3-Austin Dillon, Dow Chevrolet
4) #4 Kevin Harvick, Busch Beer Ford
5) #9 Chase Elliott, Mountain Dew Chevrolet
6) #11 Denny Hamlin, FedEx ExpressToyota
7) #12 Ryan Blaney, Menards/Peak Ford
8) #17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Fastenal Ford
9) #18 Kyle Busch, M&M's Toyota
10) #20 Erik Jones, Circle K Toyota
11) #22 Joey Logano, Pennzoil Ford
12) #31 Ryan Newman, Bass Pro Shops / Cabela's Chevrolet
13) #41 Kurt Busch, Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford
14) #42 Kyle Larson, DC Solar Chevrolet
15) #48 Jimmie Johnson, Lowe's Chevrolet
16) #78 Martin Truex Jr, 5-hour ENERGY/Bass Pro Shops Toyota
17) #95 Kasey Kahne, Procore Chevrolet
See the list on the 2018 Clash at Daytona Entry List page (pdf).(2-6-2018)
Drivers eligible for the Advance Auto Parts Clash:
won a pole in 2017
1) #12-Ryan Blaney (was in #21 Wood Brothers Ford))
2) #41-Kurt Busch
3) #18-Kyle Busch
4) #9-Chase Elliott (was in #24)
5) #11-Denny Hamlin
6) #4-Kevin Harvick
7) #20-Erik Jones (was in the #77 Toyota)
8) #2-Brad Keselowski
9) #42-Kyle Larson
10) #22-Joey Logano
11) #17-Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
12) #78-Martin Truex Jr.
Didn't win a pole in 2017, but are eligible as....:
Former Daytona 500 Pole Award Winners
13) #3-Austin Dillon
14) #48-Jimmie Johnson
2017 Playoff Drivers
15) #95-Kasey Kahne (was in the #5 HMS Chevy)
16) #1-Jamie McMurray
17) #31-Ryan Newman
Drivers eligible for the Advance Auto Parts Clash but not driving in it:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (won a pole in 2017) - retired
Matt Kenseth (won a pole in 2017) - not running
Danica Patrick (won Daytona 500 pole) - not running
1979-1990: 20-lap standard format
1991-1994: 20-lap distance with halftime break at the 10-lap mark with the field inverted.
1995-1996: 20-lap distance with halftime break at the 10-lap mark with field inverted. Starting position awarded to the Nationwide Series pole champion.
1997: 20-lap race with a break at the 10-lap mark with an inversion of the field.
1998-2000: 25-lap qualifying race featuring previous year's second-round qualifiers. Winner advances to the main 25-lap event.
2001-2002: 70-lap race featuring pole winners but also past Budweiser Shootout champions.
2003-2008: Held for the first time under the lights. 70-lap race features halftime break after the first 20 laps.
2009: Distance expanded to 75 laps. The top-six drivers in owner's points from each manufacturer earns a starting berth. A 10-minute halftime break will take place after 25 laps. In addition, each manufacturer will be able to enter a wild card driver.
2010: The field was made up of the 12 drivers who qualified for the previous year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, past NASCAR Sprint Cup champions, past Budweiser Shootout champions, past Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 champions and the reigning Rookie of the Year.
2011: The field was made up of the 12 drivers who qualified for the previous year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup,
past NASCAR Sprint Cup champions, past Budweiser Shootout champions, past Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 champions & Rookies of the Year of last 10 years.
2012: The field was made up of the 25 drivers who finished in the top 25 in 2011 Drivers Points,
previous winners at Daytona, including the Daytona 500, Coke Zero 400 and Budweiser Shootout events
2013 - 2014: Renamed the Sprint Unlimited after Budweiser drops the rights. The eligible field of drivers will consist of pole winners from the previous NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and past winners of The Sprint Unlimited who have attempted to qualify for at least one race during the previous season.
2015 - 2016: The Sprint Unlimited field of eligible drivers changed to include all Chase drivers from the previous season and all past Daytona 500 pole winners as well pole winners from the previous NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and past winners of The Sprint Unlimited. Drivers will have had to attempt to qualify for at least one race during the previous season. Still 75 laps, but only two segments, the first is 25 laps, the second and final segment is 50 laps.
2017: Renamed the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona after Sprint left the sport following the 2016 season. The field of eligible drivers changed to include all Chase drivers from the previous season and all past Daytona 500 pole winners as well pole winners from the previous NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and past winners of The Clash at Daytona. But no longer is the minimum entries at 25, so no drivers entered by drivers points position to fill the field