Busch Clash Ends As Busch Crash At Daytona

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 9 2020
Erik Jones won Sunday’s Clash in one seriously beat up race car. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – For 42 years, the Busch Clash has been an integral part of Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway, but Sunday’s version of the non-points race that Erik Jones won had to be one of the most bizarre.

The scheduled 75-lap race finally ended as an 88-lap event thanks to three overtimes. The extra laps were precipitated by multi-car wrecks that occurred before a green-flag lap could be completed in an overtime session.

By the time the checkered flag waved, only six of the original 18 cars remained on the track. And only five of them – Jones, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer – were on the lead lap. Dillon’s Chevrolet was the only one unscathed. Jones’ Toyota was severely damaged, having been in three wrecks. Bowyer and Larson had each been involved in two multi-car crashes and Newman in one.  Denny Hamlin was a lap down in his battered Toyota, but he played an instrumental role in the finish.

“That was one of the wildest things I’ve ever been in, in racing,” team owner Joe Gibbs said. “It was a classic example of two crew chiefs and two drivers that really refused to quit.

 “I don’t know what the fans will say about that, but I think they’re going to sure talk about it because it was wild. It was just a rare experience that may never happen again.”

The race entered its first overtime during the third of five caution periods due to a 10-car crash that occurred with two laps remaining. Before the second overtime period could be completed another 10-car crash occurred in turn four. This resulted in a 7 minute 27 second red flag. The fifth and final caution period began on lap 84 due to a three-car wreck in turn four.

The final restart occurred on lap 87 and Newman took the lead, but like Dillon and Bowyer, he didn’t have a teammate left in the race. Jones did and that made all of the difference. Together the two ailing Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas combined to make one strong one and Hamlin pushed Jones to victory. The last lap was the only one Jones led as was the case in July 2018 when he won the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona. 

 “It was a strange race, obviously, from a lot of aspects,” Jones said. “Craziest race I’ve ever been in, let alone won. Definitely the most damaged car I’ve won with. Definitely one of the coolest (wins).  I mean, just from an aspect that me and my friends will laugh about this one for a long time looking back at it, wondering how we won.”

Crew chief Chris Gayle said he didn’t know the amount of life Jones’ Toyota had in it when it crossed the finish line, but it couldn’t have been much.“It was running way hot,” Gayle said. “We had just kind of decided that last caution we were going to come back down with the one to go and pull real tight, but it was running too hot.  We were like, ‘We don’t have a shot to win the race if we do that. Who cares, if it doesn’t make it, it doesn’t make it.’ (So) who knows?”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, February 9 2020
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