Jimmie Johnson causes big one, then wins Daytona Clash

Elliott

Chase Elliott

The win was Johnson's first of any kind in NASCAR competition since June 4, 2017 at Dover (Del.) Int'l Speedway, when he made a late pass of Kyle Larson to top the AAA 400 Drive for Autism.

With 20 laps to go in the 75-lap All-Star event, which features drivers who scored a Cup series pole in 2018, Jimmie Johnson went for a move along the inside of race leader Paul Menard on the backstretch. But Johnson turned Menard and started a chain-reaction accident that left cars sideways and smoking behind the No. 48 Chevrolet. Johnson's win continued a banner day for Hendrick Motorsports.

Menard, who led 52 laps before the crash, was none too pleased with Johnson afterward.

The race was abandoned just four laps after the crash, because of rain, with Johnson crowned the victor.

Yup, it's officially Speedweeks at Daytona. I was hopeful that the (No.) 1 (Kurt Busch) was going to follow me through ... but it was what it was.

Jimmie Johnson (48) speeds through as Paul Menard crashes Sunday afternoon at Daytona Int'l Speedway. The cars utilize the same restrictor plate package that is used in the Daytona 500 next week and the track is the same 2.5-mile layout Daytona always is, so the only real changes is the race length and having about half as many cars starting the race as normal.

The victory was Johnson's third in the non-points Clash.

In the last five races (only going back that far because of all the vehicle and team changes since then) the average starting spot for the eventual victor has been 11.6 with the last victor from the pole being Denny Hamlin in 2014 and no one winnings from P2-P8 in that span (though they've been close).

"I did mention to Chad that he was able to win me my first pole here for the 500, and he did the same for William", Johnson said. Team Penske teammates Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney were third and fourth, with Alex Bowman completing the top five.

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. I think he came down a little bit to defend and block. Led a lot of laps but tore up a auto for no reason. It's been a while, for sure.

"It's not a points race, but it's a good start".

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