Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – DAYTONA BEACH, FL – Just hours after seeing his former Crew Chief, Chad Knaus, take the pole for the Daytona 500 with new driver William Byron, Jimmie Johnson took the win in the Advanced Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway. However, controversy and mother nature played a role in the outcome.
Johnson, who hadn’t seen the finish in his last six Clashes, was near the front most of the afternoon as single file racing dominated the day. With little passing on track and only one scheduled stop for fuel, the chess game in the draft became the focus of the day.
With passing at a premium for the past several years, aggressive moves were the only option. After multiple rain delays pushed the event further and further into the evening, the end of the race neared with Johnson tailing the No. 21 of Paul Menard. The single file train continued to maneuver around the 2.5 mi. Super Speedway, however drivers were now being told by their crews that rain was imminent. Race ending rain.
With time running short on the weather, Johnson made a move down the backstretch. Ducking to the inside of Menard, Johnson tried to keep as close as possible to the side of Menard’s car to break his momentum with the “side draft”.
Unfortunately for a majority of the field, Johnson’s car seemed to move up the track and clip Menard’s left rear quarter-panel. This sent the No. 21 Wood Brother’s Ford careening to the inside of the track, while collecting all but a handful of cars behind.
Johnson continued on track with minimal damage as the remainder of the field grouped up under the caution flag. Moments later, the skies opened up and the rains began to fall.
Once again NASCAR officials brought the field to pit road. With 56 of 75 laps complete, NASCAR made the decision that rains would not subside in time to continue racing.
Jimmie Johnson, new Crew Chief Kevin Meendering and the No. 48 team were awarded the victory. Johnson’s second Clash win of his career. The win was solidified as Johnson’s car passed post-race technical inspection just under one-hour later.
Full Clash results: https://www.nascar.com/results/race_center/2019/monster-energy-nascar-cup-series/advance-auto-parts-clash/stn/race/