Jones wins Daytona Busch Clash

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By JENNA FRYER

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The first race of the NASCAR sea­son was a de­mo­li­tion derby that turned Daytona In­ter­na­tional Speed­way into a gi­ant junk­yard.

The Busch Clash? More like the Busch Crash.

Erik Jones won Sun­day’s race that left a multi-mil­lion dol­lar trail of de­struc­tion and masked the fact the Clash was a made-for-TV ex­hi­bi­tion race. Only 18 cars were en­tered and only six were on track when the check­ered flag flew at the end of a third over­time.

Jones crossed the fin­ish line in a Toy­ota with a crum­pled hood af­ter a huge push from Joe Gibbs Rac­ing team­mate and de­fend­ing Daytona 500 win­ner Denny Ham­lin.

“I’ve got to give a huge thanks to Denny there ... he stuck with us there that whole last lap,” Jones said. “It wasn’t the fastest car I don’t think left in the race, but we brought it home. I owe him one for that one, for sure.”

Ham­lin was a lap down af­ter a blown tire on the pre­vi­ous over­time at­tempt caused him to crash half the cars re­main­ing on track, but he had enough speed to push Jones along the out­side and give Gibbs yet an­other win. The Gibbs or­ga­ni­za­tion won 19 races last year, went 1-2-3 in the Daytona 500 and won the Cup Se­ries ti­tle.

Joe Gibbs is now the all-time win­ningest owner in Busch Clash his­tory with nine vic­to­ries.

Brad Ke­selowski was among those in­censed by the ag­gres­sive late block­ing. The race was fairly anti-cli­mac­tic un­til two wrecks in the fi­nal nine laps sent it into over­time, and as Ke­selowski railed against the rac­ing that ended his day, Ham­lin got a flat tire as the leader on a restart and col­lected most of the cars on track.

“Dumb, dumb rac­ing,” said Ke­selowski, who slapped the side of an am­bu­lance with both hands in frus­tra­tion. “We shouldn’t be wreck­ing all these cars. You’d think these guys would be smarter than that. It’s the same thing over and over, some­body throws a stupid block that’s never go­ing to work and wrecks half the field.

“I don’t know. Maybe we need to take the hel­mets out of these cars and the seat belts out. Some­body will get hurt, and then we’ll stop driv­ing like (ex­ple­tive).”

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