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Race Weekend Review – February 10, 2019

Race Weekend Review – February 10, 2019

NASCAR MENCS Advance Auto Parts Clash, Daytona International Speedway
Johnson wins a rain-shortened Clash after setting off a huge crash

Daytona Beach, FL, Feb 10/19 (GRW): Jimmie Johnson has not won a NASCAR Cup race since 2017 but he started this year off right by winning the Clash exhibition race which kicks off the NASCAR portion of the Daytona Speed Weeks. It wasn’t a pretty win but it was a win. Earlier in the day, Johnson had set a third-fastest qualifying time in the time trials for starting positions for next week’s Daytona 500.

The race was red-flagged three times for rain before it was called off for good after 59 laps of the scheduled 75-lap race. The starting order for this invitational race was determined by lot but after the start the cream started to rise. When the first yellow (and red) flew for rain after just eight laps, the order was Menard, Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman (Hendrick Chevrolet), Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Ryan Blaney. The race resumed after a 21-minute delay.

On the restart Menard in the Woods Brothers Ford continued to lead, followed by the three Penske Fords of Keselowski, Logano and Blaney. It was looking like the making of a Ford rout – but it wasn’t to be.

The second yellow was a competition yellow (a so-called ‘segment conclusion’, whatever that means) that came after the first 25 laps. Most of the cars had pitted on the previous lap to gain track position for the restart. This restart saw Menard back in the lead ahead of Hamlin who had gained several positions with an aggressive entry into the pit lane when the caution flew, and then Keselowski and Johnson. On the restart the cars again formed up into a single file at the top of the banking making it difficult for anyone to get past by diving below the tight line of drafting cars.

On lap 41, they flew the yellow and then the red when the rain came back. When this second red ended eight minutes later the cars took the green flag with Menard still in the lead ahead of Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Hamlin. The field had been scrambled a bit in the previous run.

Rain was still in prospect – and, even so, the race was coming closer to its scheduled lap 75 finish. Up front the order was the same with Menard ahead of Johnson. On lap 56 Johnson decided to push his way past into the lead. He dropped down a bit and shot forward but he was too close to Menard and he tapped his rear bumper, sending him spinning and setting off a huge crash involving half of the cars in the field right behind them.

Johnson escaped unscathed and ran on ahead to take the yellow as the leader, Menard was being pounded by the cars piling in from behind. Kurt Busch made it through along with a few others who somehow escaped from the chaos. This yellow was soon followed by the red flag which brought the cars down onto pit lane were they were parked for a third time. A few minutes later NASCAR declared that the race was official with 59 of the 75 laps completed.

Menard made it clear that he blamed Johnson for the crash. “We knew that last restart was basically a new race – a little dash for cash to the end. It was definitely expected. I’m surprised we actually got single-file up top again after that last restart, but I knew something like that was gonna happen. It was just a matter of time.”

Johnson had his own, self-serving version of this. “Knowing the rain was coming – we could see it coming – I knew that was probably my lap to make the move. I had a great ride down the back. I got below him before he blocked it. And then I think he came down a little to defend and block. Certainly hate to see all these cars torn up. I’m here and making my move. I think it was more of a racing thing than anything. I didn’t drive through a car and cause a wreck.”

This was not a very satisfying race. Most of the race was run in single file with very limited passing and the racing kept being stopped before anyone could mount much of a challenge – and then the race ended with yet another massively wasteful ‘big one’ crash that wrecked about half the cars in the field. On top of that, while many fans might be happy to see Johnson win another race, how can they enjoy races that are won by crash-him-out manoeuvres like this? Unfortunately, this race became a procession followed by a demolition derby. Let’s hope for something better in the races to follow next week.

Click HERE for the full results of the NASCAR MENCS Advance Auto Parts Clash.

Photo MENCS timetrials daytonaThe two Hendrick Chevrolets which won the top two starting spots for next week's Daytona 500 (Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images/NASCAR)

NASCAR MENCS Time Trials for the Daytona 500
Byron wins the pole; the four Hendrick entries fastest of all.

Daytona Beach, FL, Feb 10/19 (GRW): It is a tradition that, on the Sunday the week before the Daytona 500, time trials are held for all the entrants. These time trials don’t have a lot of significance but after a long winter layoff, they can seem like a big thing. The fastest two qualifiers win spots on the front row in the Daytona 500. As for the other 40 contenders, the time they set has much less significance – it determines their starting positions in the twin 160-mile qualifying races to be held next Thursday. With a couple of complicating wrinkles, these races will determine the starting positions for the other 38 starters.

Twelve cars made it into the second round of qualifying including the four Hendrick Chevrolets. In the earlier runs the three Penske Fords – plus the Woods Brothers satellite team’s car with Ryan Blaney had held the top four positions but the Hendrick cars blew then away with their faster speeds later in the session. When the dust had settled, the four Hendrick cars had the four fastest times and the fastest Penske Ford was Logano, sixth fastest.

Click HERE for the full results of the Daytona 500 Time Trials (note that this comes in the form of two pages, one page for each of the two qualifying rounds).

ARCA HBurton DaytonaThe winning Burton car in victory lane (Credit: Venturini Motorsports)

ARCA Menards Series Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona International Speedway
Harrison Burton holds off Todd Gilliland for the win

Daytona Beach, FL., Feb 9/19 (GRW): The race was scheduled to run 80 laps but, with overtime, it ran to 86 laps before young Harrison Burton took the checker ahead of Todd Gilliland. Grant Quinlan, a Canadian driver from Maidstone, ON, was third. Maidstone is near Windsor. The 19-year-old driver is planning to contest more ARCA races later this year.

Harrison’s teammate Christian Eckes started from the pole and ran in second place behind Burton for much of the race falling to fourth after the fifth and final restart.

Harrison Burton is Jeff Burton’s son while Todd Gilliland is David Gilliland’s son. Both of these drivers were too young to be allowed to start in the Daytona truck race last year. This year they are both entered in the NGOTS race and they were using this ARCA race to acclimatize themselves on the Daytona superspeedway in preparation for next week’s truck race.

Click HERE for the full results of the Daytona ARCA race.




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