After qualifying 18th for Friday night’s Subway Jalapeno 250, Joey Logano reported issues with his clutch while getting up to speed. The team was forced to change the clutch and start from the rear of the field. However, with the tandem drafting in use at Daytona today, getting to the front would not be too much of a problem as long as you had a good drafting partner.
Kevin Harvick started from the pole, part of a record-breaking sweep of the top-4 starting spots by his race team. Although all four KHI cars would be up front at the start of the race, they would all end up in a heap of twisted metal by the end of the night. For Clint Bowyer, his night could have ended very early. A couple laps into the race, Bowyer cut a tire, which forced him to pit and lose a lap. Bowyer spent nearly half the race trying to get the Free Pass, but eventually got back up front.
For the most part, the frontrunners kept their tandems almost all night. Carl Edwards worked almost exclusively with Jamie McMurray. Patrick worked with Stewart, then switched to teammate Aric Almirola late. Before switching to Patrick, Almirola worked with Brad Keselowski. Both of the NEMCO Motorsports ExtenZe-sponsored cars worked together. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Trevor Bayne worked together.
For Logano, starting at the rear was no problem at all. He weaved his way through traffic like a madman in the first ten laps, moving up from the rear to 13th by Lap 10. By Lap 20, he was firmly in the top-10. However, he made some aggressive moves to get up front, and that aggressiveness came back to haunt him on Lap 26. Logano got below the yellow line trying to pass the lapped car of Kevin Lepage. Knowing that he couldn’t make the pass that way and still make it through Turn 3, he turned up the track to give himself a proper corner entry. Unfortunately, Brian Scott was there. Scott hooked Logano in the right rear corner, sending the No. 20 on a slide through Turn 3, bringing out the first yellow. The car was relatively undamaged, but Logano had to regroup from the rear once again.
To get back to the front of the field, Logano drafted anyone he could. For instance, he spent a significant amount of time bumping Blake Koch towards the front. That got the No. 20 back in the top-15 within ten laps of the restart.
Ricky Carmichael had high hopes entering Friday night’s race, but the night ended early for the Camping World Truck Series regular. On Lap 34, Carmichael cut a left rear tire and spun off of Turn 2. Carmichael’s car backed into the outside wall and then hit it with the driver’s side. Danny Efland also spun to the inside of Turn 2. Extensive damage forced Carmichael to retire for the night, while Efland continued without issue.
After the yellow, Danica Patrick made her move to head up the field for the first time, passing Elliott Sadler for the lead on Lap 40 with help from Tony Stewart. Patrick would lead the race five times for 13 laps on the night.
The third yellow flew on Lap 45 for a wreck on the frontstretch that was a true cautionary tale of the new tandem drafting. Mike Bliss was pushing his teammate Eric McClure through the tri-oval when he dipped his nose out to get some air. When he did this, his car inched in front of McClure’s rear bumper. The result was that Bliss hooked McClure in the right rear corner and McClure crashed hard into the outside wall before spinning into the grass inside of Turn 1. McClure was transported to Halifax Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with a concussion.
On the restart from the McClure caution, a stack-up resulted in Jennifer Jo Cobb smashing into the back of Tim George, Jr. The hit ended up breaking something internally on Cobb’s No. 13, oiling down the apron of the track and bringing out another yellow.
Following a long run of green-flag action, another mistimed bump draft brought out the fifth yellow. Bowyer and teammate Harvick were trying to get a run on Edwards and McMurray for the lead on the backstretch. Unfortunately, Harvick got into Bowyer on the rounded corner of the rear bumper and turned Bowyer into the outside wall, ending his night with 20 laps to go.
A late quick-trigger caution thrown by NASCAR with ten laps to go for an incident involving the two NEMCO Motorsports cars driven by Joe Nemechek and Kevin Conway set up a seven-lap sprint to the finish. It appeared at first that the tandems of Sadler-Stewart and Patrick-Almirola were going to settle the race amongst themselves. However, Logano finally hooked with teammate Kyle Busch with a couple of laps to go and blasted by Sadler for the lead on the final lap. The Turner Motorsports tandem of Jason Leffler and Reed Sorenson followed the Gibbs cars by.
Coming to the line, Leffler and Sorenson had a huge run on the Gibbs duo. Kyle Busch moved up to block Leffler, giving Logano just enough steam to beat Leffler to the line for the win.
Behind the lead foursome, an eight-car crash coming to the line shuffled the final finishing order. Mike Wallace’s No. 01 was thrown around like a rag doll coming to the line, possibly due to a broken rear track bar. A series of side-bumps culminated in the No. 01, two of the remaining Kevin Harvick, Inc. Chevrolets (Stewart and Sadler), and the two JR Motorsports Chevrolets (Patrick and Almirola) all crashing into the outside wall just short of the start-finish line. Steve Wallace was also involved. Kenny Wallace went into the grass to avoid the crash, while Brian Scott followed. Kenny got through the crash, but Scott was hit by Steve Wallace. Jamie McMurray was also collected by the No. 66. All of the drivers were ok.
After the race, Logano was very pleased to have avoided the big crash and gone to Victory Lane.
“This is Daytona — I’m pumped up right now. Its so cool,” Logano said in the post-race press conference. “Got to thank Kyle [Busch] obviously, for pushing me. Its nice to be on the other side of the fence. Usually, I’m the pusher and finish second every time. So, to be on the other side here and get the win, man, this is great.”
Behind Logano and Leffler was Reed Sorenson in third. Kyle Busch finished fourth after being shoved into the outside wall at the finish. Justin Allgaier rounded out the top-5. Michael Annett was sixth, followed by Kenny Wallace in seventh. Elliott Sadler, Aric Almirola and Danica Patrick rounded out the top-10. All three of those drivers were involved in the big crash at the end.
Sorenson’s third-place finish allowed him to expand his points lead to nine over Sadler. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. is still third, followed by Turner Motorsports teammates Justin Allgaier and Aric Almirola.
Next week, the Nationwide Series will be in Sparta, Kentucky for the Feed The Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway.
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