After a race dominated by Toyota and Denny Hamlin — who led 48 of 75 laps— and a last lap pass attempt by Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano wound up with victory in the Advanced Auto Parts Clash at Daytona to kick off the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Season on a high note.
This is Logano’s first win in the Clash. Logano joins Kurt Busch and Rusty Wallace in the hall of Clash victories for Team Penske.
“It’s cool to win the Clash. We came so close last year and it’s really neat to be in Victory Lane and a good start to our day,” said Logano post race.
Logano started the race in the ninth position, but quickly saw his way to the front of the field quickly with Keselowski and Ford teammate, Kevin Harvick. The Ford contingent kept strong to hold off the Toyota contingent of Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Daniel Suarez.
Logano quickly lost his drafting partner when Keselowski was busted on pit road for driving through too many pit boxes.
When the race restarted, Logano held his own while trying to battle with the Joe Gibbs Racing contingent. With one lap remaining in the first segment, Joe Gibbs Racing teammates and Alex Bowman dived onto pit road leaving Logano with the lead as the first segment ended.
That move by Toyota gave them the upper hand when it came to the second segment as they lead the top-four positions for majority of the second segment.
Logano went quiet for most of the second segment awaiting Keselowski, but when the time was right Keselowski worked his way through the field to Logano. Logano began pushing Keselowski towards the lead, helping to side-draft the Joe Gibbs Racing contingent.
When the white flag flew, Logano and Keselowski made their way to the second and third position. Logano was third as Keselowski, made contact with Hamlin spinning him. Logano quickly moved to the outside of the turn to the lead gaining a huge advantage over Ky. Busch.
“I had to make the move. I know all the other drivers are back watching and they know not to make that block on me again,” said Keselowski about the move he had to make.
“There’s really not much I can do differently at the end. 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,” said Hamlin. “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.”
Hamlin ended up finishing 13th, while Keselowski finished sixth after their collision on the exit of turn two.
Logano scored Ford Performance’s first victory in the Clash since 2004 when Dale Jarrett won the race.
Ky. Busch finished second, Bowman finished third, Danica Patrick finishes fourth, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five.
Brad Keseloski and Martin Truex Jr. saw their championship hopes dashed during Sunday’s Hellmann’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Truex Jr. was running in the top-10 for the first 40 laps. However, his engine expired shortly after green-flag pit-stops cycled through. The expiration of the engine was a surprise for Truex Jr.
“Just developed a vibration and started to lose a little bit of power. Originally I thought it could have been a tire because it was shaking worse and worse and worse until it was time to pit. I slowed down to hit pit road and felt the vibration still there and knew it was the engine,” said Truex.
After dominating the first round of the Chase, the second round started off on the wrong foot at Charlotte. Those struggles continued to struggle throughout the “Round of 12”. Truex described this round of the chase as a “rollercoaster”. He wishes he would have had better runs at Charlotte and Kansas in an effort to have a “free pass” this weekend at Talladega.
Despite his struggles in the second round, Truex is still confident and proud in his team. “They’ve worked so hard this year to put us in the position to battle for a championship and we felt like we could do it. This year and this sport is tough and we didn’t perform at Kansas and Charlotte the way we were capable and we had some issues there and that put us in the hole and if we could have went there and done better and maybe got a win then we wouldn’t be talking about this right now. We didn’t get the job done, but we’ve got a great team and we’ve got four more races to go out there and try to get a win and I know we can win all four of them and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
For Keselowski, his engine expired as he was running, but the problem could have been avoided. While leading the race, Keselowski had gained a piece of debris on his grille.
While leading the race, Paul Wolfe, crew chief, and Joey Mier, spotter, were arguing about what Keselowski should do to get the debris off. They finally reached a point of consensus to let Ryan Blaney get in front of Keselowski to get the debris off the grille. However, shortly after the move was made, the engine expired off the backstretch bringing out the caution.
“Something let go. I’m not sure exactly what, but it’s unfortunate. We had a really fast Miller Lite Ford and that kind of ended our day. It was a lot of fun to be leading at Talladega. I really like this track. It’s been good to us and there are a lot of great fans here today. We were doing the best we could to make a show of it and have some fun and lead some laps and just happy and proud to have a fast car,” said Keselowski.
Due to the engine issues, Keselowski and Truex Jr. were eliminated from the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The plan for both drivers is to win the remaining four races of the season.
Buescher would receive the free pass when Chase Elliott got into Joey Logano through the Tunnel Turn. When other drivers didn't pit, the Front Row Motorsports team did and went the remaining 31 laps on fuel.
On Lap 132, NASCAR threw the caution for fog as it covered the entire 2.5-mile race track. The next six laps were spent under the caution flag before the red flag was thrown, waiting over an hour and a half before calling the race due to fog, handing Buescher his first career victory.
"We're sitting there on pit road, kind of just waiting for everything to happen the way that it was going to," Buescher said of waiting over an hour for the victory. "We've had some awful luck this year and a lot of things not go our way and I tried not to get my hopes up because I knew just as soon as I did, the fog would have rolled back out and we would have been restarting again."
Picking up the victory, Buescher sits 31st in the standings, six points behind David Ragan. In order to make the Chase, the No. 34 team will need to pick up those points. It is the second career victory for Front Row Motorsports.
After struggling early on in the race, Brad Keselowski finished second. The No. 2 car was the first car on the track that had pitted and if the race would have remained green would have caught Buescher in the next handful of laps.
"Definitely an odd weekend," Keselowski said of his race. "We were really competitive this weekend. I'm really proud that we were running up front. I thought that there were two or three cars that were really strong and we were one of them."
Finding a four leaf clover during the pre-race, Regan Smith lucked into a third-place finish, also staying out on fuel. The finish ties the best-career finish by Tommy Baldwin Racing at Talladega in the fall of 2011.
"This is a big deal for this team," Smith said of his finish. "Tommy has really worked hard over the years at this and we've got to take opportunities when they present themselves and today was a day that opportunity presented. I'm proud of them for taking the chance doing the fuel-mileage deal and do what we did."
Arguably having the fastest car in Pocono, Kevin Harvick came home fourth, leading seven laps. His Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Tony Stewart rounded out the top five.
Leading 37 laps, Kyle Larson spent the most time out front on Monday. This was yet again a win that got away from the third year driver as he finished sixth on the afternoon.
A trio of Joe Gibbs Racing drivers lined up positions seven through nine with Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch. June winner, Kurt Busch rounded out the top 10. xdsxsx
For much of the day it looked like Austin Dillon had the car to beat as on two separate occasions the No. 3 car raced its way to the lead, leading three laps. During the last pit stop, a lug nut got hung on the right rear tire, slowing the pit stop.
Kasey Kahne was the highest finishing driver from the Hendrick Motorsports stable in 15th. This marks the fourth time in the last six events that a Hendrick team has failed to post a top-10 finish.
In his return to Pocono, Jeff Gordon will go home with a 27th-place effort after a seat belt came loose under the green flag.
Pre-race favorite, Martin Truex, Jr. spent the first 16 laps out front prior to the competition caution. The pole-sitter cut a tire on the lap following the resuming restart. Over the rest of the race, the No. 78 car cut two more tires, finishing 38th.
Prior to flying to Iowa Speedway for the XFINITY Series race, Brad Keselowski finished final practice second the board (176.136 mph). The driver of the No. 2 car was involved in a violent crash at Watkins Glen International earlier this week. The last time he was involved in a practice crash, he went on to win at Pocono.
Kevin Harvick (176.012 mph) and June-winner, Kurt Busch (175.922 mph) were next on the board with rookie Chase Elliott fifth (175.864 mph). The No. 24 car led 51 laps in June at Pocono, the most that he's been out front in a single race this season.
Kyle Busch was outside the top five in sixth (175.864 mph), Kyle Larson finished seventh (175.761 mph), Paul Menard eighth (175.719 mph), Carl Edwards was nitnh (175.599 mph) and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top 10 (175.549 mph).
Richard Childress Racing, who has been fast all weekend had the next two positions outside the top 10, while drivers including Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon were 20th and below on the board.
The June-winner took 42 circuits around the Tricky Triangle, the most of all competitors with Stewart the only other driver posting at least 40 laps.
Truex led the way when it came to the best 10 consecutive laps (174.625 mph). 17 drivers made a run of at least 10 laps, Busch was last on the list.
Brad Keselowski steals the show by saving enough fuel to win the Quaker State 400. Carl Edwards finished second followed by Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, and Tony Stewart. This is Keselowski’s third win at Kentucky. Keselowski continues the streak of winning at Kentucky in even numbered years.
"I’ve got to give credit to my guys, the Roush Yates Engine shop, and everybody at Ford. We knew the fuel mileage. We went out and we set a really fast pace there on that restart and was just using fuel, and then it became obvious that you were gonna have to save fuel at the end, but I already used so much. It’s a testament to our guys to have the fuel mileage that we did to be able to get back what I burnt early in the run and get the Miller Lite Ford in Victory Lane. It’s number four this year. Gosh, that’s great. Usually these repaves are kind of my Achilles heel, but to get a win here at Kentucky. I know it’s been a good track for us in the past, but this isn’t the same Kentucky, I can tell you that. These cars were tough to drive today, but a good tough. This was a hard-fought battle and I’m really proud of everybody on the 2 crew to get win number four and take that first place,” says Keselowski in victory lane.
The Quaker State 400 experienced 16 lead changes among nine different drivers. Kevin Harvick led the most laps at 128 followed by Brad Keselowski with 75, Martin Truex Jr. with 46, Kurt Busch with 10, Matt Kenseth, David Ragan, and Danica Patricl all led two laps, Austin and Ty Dillon both led one lap.
The caution flag flew 11 times to tie the record set last year for 53 laps. The first caution flew for an accident by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in turn three. The second caution was the competition caution. The third caution was for an accident by Jimmie Johnson off turn four. Joey Logano brought out the fourth caution with an accident in turn three. Matt Dibenedetto caused the fifth caution with an accident in turn three. The rookies of Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott brought out the sixth caution for a spin in turn three. The ‘Big One’ involved Danica Patrick, Regan Smith, Chris Buescher, Kyle Larson, Brian Scott, AJ Allmendinger, Ty Dillon, and Cole Whitt to bring out the seventh caution. The eighth caution was brought out by Smith. Patrick and Clint Bowyer brought out the ninth caution with an accident in turn four. Allmendinger brought out the 10th caution. Landon Cassill brought out the final caution with an accident in turn two.
Kevin Harvick maintains the points lead. Keselowski is four points behind Harvick followed by Kurt Busch (-16), Carl Edwards (-33), and Joey Logano (-66).
Keselowski retakes the top seed in the Chase Grid with four wins. Kyle Busch is currently seeded second with three wins followed by Johnson and Edwards who have two wins, and Hamlin, Harvick, Kenseth, Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Logano, and Stewart.
The average speed of the race was 128.580 mph. The time of race was 3 hours, 6 minutes, and 55 seconds. The margin of victory was .175 seconds.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series packs up from Kentucky Speedway to head to the flat one-mile oval, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, for the New Hampshire 301. Performance Racing Network and NBCSN will have coverage from New Hampshire beginning at 1:30 pm eastern on July 17.