John­son trig­gers wreck, then wins Clash at Day­tona

Texarkana Gazette - - SPORTS - By Dan Gel­ston

DAY­TONA BEACH, Fla.— Jim­mie John­son trig­gered a wreck that wiped out nearly the en­tire field at Day­tona and zipped to the lead to win the rain-short­ened ex­hi­bi­tion Clash on Sun­day.

The seven-time Cup Se­ries cham­pion failed to win a race last sea­son for the first time in his ca­reer but a dose of ag­gres­sion put him back in vic­tory lane in the first week­end of Speed­weeks. John­son’s win con­tin­ued a ban­ner day for Hen­drick Mo­tor­sports. Team­mates Wil­liam By­ron and Alex Bow­man locked in the front row for the Day­tona 500 ear­lier in the day in qual­i­fy­ing.

Paul Me­nard led 51 laps and con­trolled the race in­ter­rupted mul­ti­ple times for rain. With more rain loom­ing, John­son dipped low and tried to side-draft Me­nard as they bat­tled for the lead. But John­son turned Me­nard and started a chain-re­ac­tion ac­ci­dent that left cars side­ways and smok­ing be­hind the No. 48 Chevro­let.

“Know­ing the rain’s com­ing. I could see it com­ing,” John­son said. “We could see it com­ing and I knew that was prob­a­bly my lap to make the move and I had a great run down the back. I got below him be­fore he blocked him. I think he came down a lit­tle bit to de­fend and block. I got that move in­side of him and was hope­ful the 1 was go­ing to be fol­low­ing me through. Cer­tainly hate to see all these cars tore up.”

The rain that ended the race hit not long af­ter the de­ci­sive move and John­son won for the first time with new crew chief Kevin Meen­der­ing and new pri­mary spon­sor Ally.

John­son had turned a few ex­tra laps at Day­tona—with the 48 in the garage. He fin­ished first in his 40 to 44 age di­vi­sion early Sun­day in the Day­tona Beach half marathon with a time of 1 hour, 34 min­utes, 18.4 sec­onds.

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