Hamlin Pushes Erik Jones to Clash Finish Line

Erik Jones Pushed to 42nd Annual Busch Clash At Daytona
(DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEB 9, 2020 – RIS) The original sponsor of the Busch Clash returned for the 2020 edition of SpeedWeeks at Daytona and the nickname for the event featuring last season's pole winners became somewhat appropriate again: "The Busch 'Crash'"returned with three major incidents punctuating the race. Erik Jones led only a single lap, and had to have help doing that, but he won the race.

The first occurred on lap 65, just ten from the end of the race, when Joey Logano and Kyle Busch started to crash in Turn Four. Then on the restart from that incident, William Byron and others had tire spin, creating another melee immediately. On the restart, Denny Hamlin had a rear tire go down in the fourth turn, tangling the entire field and bringing out a red flag

Elliott got blocked by Larson and turned around, leaving Dillon in the lead and setting up another green/white/checker finish with only four cars on the lead lap, Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Erik Jones, followed by Kyle Larson 

Ryan Newman did a crossover, Erik Jones led briefly, with Newman to the outside and three wide racing with Denny Hamlin shoving fellow Joe Gibbs Racing driver Erik Jones to the win, in spite of the heavy damage to Jones' car.
Jones' day started when he slid through his pit box, then the front end of his car got pushed in, looking more like a truck front end, but he stayed on the lead lap and Hamlin pushed him across the finish line for the win. "Well, not what I would've thought we'd want," said Jones. "It was an awesome race. I've got to give a huge thanks to Denny (Hamlin) there in the 11. He stuck with us there that whole last lap. This thing wasn't the fastest car, I don't think, left in the race, but we brought it home. I owe him one for that one for sure. Really cool though. I mean Busch Clash first year back, to win that, that feels good and with SportClips again. These guys have been really loyal to me the last few years, so it's cool to get them another win and hopefully next Sunday, we cap off another one right here."

Could you have a game plan with so few cars left on that last restart? "I was hoping I could get pushing the 6 (Ryan Newman) and get up front and then hopefully, then Denny was going to help us. That didn't exactly work out. Everybody was slicing with that few of cars. He just locked on and we stuck together. I think honestly my car was so draggy, it wasn't too much for him to stay connected and he was able to push us home. Feels good to start off with another win. It's a really cool race. One that I grew up watching and then to  have it back with it's original namesake feels pretty good."

You could write a book on this win. Take us through those last two laps. "Well, I have to thank Denny (Hamlin) off the bat. He pushed us really good there in the end. He got us the lead and got us up front. It was wild. We got in a few wrecks and tore the car up pretty bad. I didn't know how rough it was. I knew it was still holding water and oil, so we were in okay shape. The SportClips Camry took the win, so it feels good. What a way to start the year – in victory lane. I hope we can keep it going from there and keep adding them up."

You said a few wrecks – I counted at least three. Can you talk about the repairs that your team did? "Yeah, it's pretty bad, but the Camry kept running strong. We came down and didn't really know what we were trying to fix. I couldn't see it, but could tell the hood was pretty torn up, and the right front was as well. I didn't know it was that bad to be honest with you until now, but it sure feels good to come out of here with a win, especially in a race with perserverance like that. You don't want to give up and when it pays off in the end, it makes it extra special."

How was the handling of your Camry? "It was dragging the front a lot. We were dragging some of the splitter bar pretty hard. There was a lot of contact. It felt a little dragging compared to how we started the race, but with Denny being able to stay locked on there for the last lap - I was trying to find him and see where he was and get a push, and finally we got locked up there getting into (turn) one, and he was able to stay on me. Definitely, it didn't start as good as we started the day."

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position 6th: You seem pretty darn happy like you did something today. "It's so awesome. I mean I knew he needed to strap in because that last lap I was going to push him. I didn't care if  I was going to push him into a wreck. I was just going to push him. It was fun. I mean my car was so, so fast. Proud of the effort there. Glad we got a team win, I mean that's all I could really do at the end was push him to victory.

How did the car feel to drive. That couldn't have been very driveable? "I had eight wheels. I had four in front of me, I had four on me. When we linked up, it was fast. I mean it was unbelievable. The thing is, I had his damaged race car to cover up all the damage to mine, so it just worked. Just another fast Camry. That was two fast Camrys on that last lap there. So happy with the whole FedEx team for not quitting there and trying to get the race finished and got us a team win."

What did you  learn? "We can go to the front. I mean our cars are super fast. I think that everyone's going to realize that these plates blocks just don't work. Not with this package. I think the way you used to drive superspeedway races where you had time to see the runs coming, it just doesn't work and causes for carnage like you see. It's great for TV, but if you don't want to finish, then you continue to do the same thing over and over."

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 SiriusXM Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position 16th What happened in that wreck? "I don't know to be honest with you. Trying to get going, trying to get the 10 (Aric Almirola) going there on the bottom. I got a good jump there and just got hit in the right-rear (tire) and turned into the fence. Not sure what happened. It sucks. Superspeedways are not good to me."

KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M's Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing Finishing Position 18th What happened with Joey Logano out there?

"I was going to look low, but I knew he was driving low, so then I was like okay, I'm going to go high and then he drove up the race track in front of me and then I was like okay, now I've got to cut back down and cut low. When I did, I touched him just a little bit, which then turned his car and then we were just sandwiched and the wreck was on. I don't know. Either you can race or you can wreck. The reason why we ride in single file is because we don't know how to race. Just a product of a few bad decisions there and we're all crashed."

RYAN NEWMAN, No. 6 Koch Industries Ford Mustang - Finished 5th  "I am proud of the effort that went into it. We had a good Koch Industries Ford. We had good speed and the car drove good. The strategy was good. We just didn't have the alliance at the end to get that push. I blocked the 3 car but I didn't see or know that Denny had the 20 lined up and a freight train coming on the outside. I knocked a left rear tire in blocking Austin. It was just unfortunate the way the timing worked out. I feel bad about the deal on the restart. There must have been oil or something on the track for all of us to do what we did there. Nevertheless we crashed and looked kind of stupid coming to the green. I guess that happens. It wasn't the peak of stupidity today though, that is for sure."

WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEHIND THE WHEEL? "The car drove really good, we just didn't have the drafting partners and teamwork that we needed there at the end. The rest of it was what we kind of expect here. We are used to that. Keselowski and I joked about it beforehand. He asked how many cars would be on the lead lap at the end and I said 10. He said he was going to take the under and he was right by more than I thought."

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Pure Farmland Ford Mustang "Man, what a shame. We had a really fast Pure Farmland Ford Mustang. All the Fords were really fast. Doug Yates always brings the horsepower every week but he really loves Daytona. It is a shame a Ford won't win this thing because we dominated the race. All in all it was a good day for us. It isn't the finish we wanted but it was productive with a new team and new crew chief and working through a lot of those things."

WHAT ABOUT THAT WRECK THAT KNOCKED YOU OUT? "That is just part of it. That last wreck there in particular I don't think was anybody's fault. Denny (Hamlin) just had damage from the previous wreck and elected to not pit, which I get. I understand that. This race doesn't pay any points or anything, so you can take that risk and if it doesn't work out it doesn't work out. Unfortunately it tore up a bunch of really good race cars. I guess the damage got down on one of his tires and caused him to have a flat and he spun out it front of all of us. I felt like we were in the right spot to have a chance to win the race. I feel like we had a very productive day for our race team and I am really happy with the way things went with my new crew chief and how we worked through a lot of stuff. The big event is a week from today. I can't remember the last time someone won the Clash and came back and won the 500, so if you have to give up one, today is a good one to give up."

CLINT BOWYER, No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang "Well, I thought it was kind of boring to run around there single-file. Man, I wish we would have stayed that way. We are not capable of going two-wide. We tore the hell out of 'em. You know it is going to happen though. Here is the thing. There were a lot of difference scenarios out there and shenanigans in a race like that where the Chevrolet's were trying to make it and were on ultra old tires and that restart really showed it. It stacked everybody up and wrecked 'em. That was unfortunate. I thought that was the end of our day and then it was just - I don't know. The 9 and 42, those cars were the only ones with no damage. They should have won the race, but they took each other out. That was too bad. Fortunate for me though. Then I thought the 6 was going to win. I was going to get there and push him but I don't know if he was blowing up or what. That is how the luck was going. I saw smoke flying out from him and I thought, 'Oh damn, I need to go with someone else.'"

WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEHIND THE WHEEL? "Did you see that? What was it like behind the microphone. It was chaotic. I was screaming. When that stuff happens you start talking quicker and louder and I was doing the same thing."

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light #PIT4BUSCH Ford Mustang "That is just the way it goes here. We are just going to go burn a couple hundred thousand dollars of the owners money, load them up in the truck, head home and try again next week."

WAS THAT TYPICAL OF WHAT YOU EXPECT AT THIS RACE? "There are five of 18 cars left. If we can wreck five more we will be in good shape. Typical speedway racing."

JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford Mustang -- CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FIRST INCIDENT WITH KYLE (BUSCH) THAT COLLECTED YOUR TEAMMATE? "Yeah, Kyle had a run. I blocked it to the bottom. I blocked it back to the top. I thought I did a good job blocking and he just got to the inside of me and there really wasn't a hole there and he just hooked me around. That was the first crash. Then they wrecked on a restart, that was the other crash. We didn't really hit anybody on that one. The last one, Denny blew a tire. Dang it. I almost made it through. I needed about three feet. Oh well."

BRAD (KESELOWSKI) WAS CRITICAL OF THE BLOCKING AND HE WAS UPSET WITH YOU:"Apparently we all suck at this because there are only like three cars left right now, so I wouldn't say anyone is really good."

WILL YOU TRY TO MEND FENCES WITH BRAD? HE WAS LIVID AND THEN SAID HE WAS GOING TO DISNEY AND DIDN'T HAVE TIME TO TALK TO YOU: "Well, I am going to Disney too, so I will see him there (laughter). I am sure he is fine. We get along fine. I don't think he is mad at me."

BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 2 MoneyLion Ford Mustang -- YOU SEEMED PRETTY ANGRY AND ANIMATED ON THE RADIO: "I just got wrecked for no reason. Dumb, dumb racing. Dumb moves being thrown out there. Guys that don't know what they are doing so they throw crazy blocks. It is just ridiculous. We shouldn't be wrecking all these cars. I am not Tony Stewart, I am not as smart as he is and he can say it a lot better than I could but this is just dumb. We had a good race car. The MoneyLion Ford was capable of winning the race, led a lot of the race and we got destroyed for no reason."

DID IT SURPRISE YOU THAT THIS WAS THE TYPE OF RACING OUT THERE ALREADY? "You would think these guys would be smarter than that. I get in wrecks all the time and I cause them, but the same one over and over again. It is the same thing. Somebody throws a stupid block that is never going to work, and wrecks half the field. Then goes, ehhhhh. I don't know. Maybe we need to take the helmets and seatbelts out. Somebody will get hurt and then maybe they will stop driving like (expletive)."

TO BE CLEAR, IT IS YOUR TEAMMATE JOEY LOGANO THAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT, RIGHT?"Yeah, it was just a dumb move. There is no reason to make that move. It was never going to work and it didn't. Here we are. We are wrecked out of the race and now a Ford isn't going to win most likely and a Toyota is. It was just dumb to take out the best car for a move that was never going to work."

HOW MUCH OF THIS IS GUYS TRYING TO FIGURE THIS OUT? "There is only one driver in this race that has never ran this before. There is some experimenting but at this point you know what you've got."

WILL YOU TRY TO TALK TO JOEY ABOUT IT? "I am going to Disney World with my family. I will worry about that later." 


 AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER OFFROAD CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Finished 2nd: HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN A RACE LIKE THIS WITH THIS FEW CARS LEFT? "Yeah, I actually have. One of my Xfinity wins here was very similar; there were about four cars left. It was me and Chase Elliott, and we beat him back to the line. It reminded me of that and I thought we were going to come home victorious. I started getting worried, we were starting to lose Chevy's fast. There at the end, we probably should have made a better move to work with the 42 under the caution. There were two Fords, two Toyotas, and two Chevys I believe is how it was lining up to be. I got good help from the 14 on the start, I got where I wanted to be, and I blocked high. I kept working hard. I got back to second on the white flag and I was back to a decent position. But those guys just laid back enough and got such a big run on the backstretch. My spotter said 'go high, go high', and I was more focused out the front. I started to go high and Newman made a pretty good block on it. I just have to re-watch out and learn from it, and if you're in that position again, what would I do different to defend off multiple cars. It's hard because you can block and get turned really easy; I've been on both sides of that. We made it through. I'm proud of Chevrolet, Symbicort, Bass Pro, everyone that helps with this program. That was fun. I just wish Justin (Alexander) and I could have kept our record together. Every time we start a new race team together or get together, we've won. That's the first time we haven't. We won our first Xfinity, first Cup and this would have been back together for a second time doing it again. We were close."

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THIS RACE FROM BEHIND THE WHEEL? "Well, we had a strategy, but the strategy didn't really work out for us. The caution came out, which was nice because we got to race. Once we got to race, it was a wreck-fest. I made some really good moves in missing wrecks. That was probably the proudest I am of that. The guys finally gave me a good brake pedal and I was able to make good moves there. Usually, at superspeedways, I'm begging for more brake and stopping power. I'm glad we had it today because I stopped and didn't hit Jimmie Johnson, and people were just going left and right."

KYLE LARSON, NO. 42 CREDIT ONE BACK CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Finished 4th "It was a little crazy there, a lot of crashes. But I still had a shot to win with a beat-up car. It was cool to race for a win like that, but it just didn't work out there for me."

DO YOU ANTICIPATE WE'LL SEE SOMETHING LIKE THIS NEXT WEEK? "People are always more cautious Thursday because you don't want to crash your 500 car. The 500 is so much longer of a race and there's points on the line. So, it should be a little tamer.

WHEN YOUR CREW CHIEF TELLS YOU TO JUST BRING BACK THE WHEEL, DOES THAT SET YOUR MENTALITY OUT THERE? "It's always kind of that way for this race here. There's nothing on the line, other than the trophy. So, everyone is out there doing that."

WHAT'S IT LIKE IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT WITH ALL THE CRAZINESS? "It's just wild. You're trying to find a hole to not get caught up in any crashes."

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Sidelined in crash on lap 79; Finished 11th "They were all sideways and I thought for a minute I was going to get through. I was still on the gas and somebody clipped me in the right rear, and it was all over from there. I really didn't see what happened. It was really impressive how the Fords and the Toyotas could use the bumpers to push cars. So, I assume at some point, there would be too much and have a crash. But I think we need to do a better job with our cars to receive those pushes. When I was up front and the second group caught the first group, there was so much energy in the group and they were able to slam draft like we could years ago. Our cars just weren't ready for that; our setups weren't right for that. We learned a lot. Unfortunately, we didn't make it to the finish. But I learned a lot while I was out there."

KURT BUSCH, NO. 1 MONSTER ENERGY CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Sidelined in crash on lap 74; Finished 12th"We were just trying to have our fuel mileage right and it was just a gamble on the Chevy side to make sure all of us could make it together. We needed a couple of yellows and not get caught up in the yellows. But we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Everything just gets crazy at the end."

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT SOME OF THE MOVES THAT WERE GOING ON OUT THERE? "We're all racing an analytics race now. It was all about fuel mileage, team work and manufacturers working together. That's what we were directed to do and it's just a matter of getting to the end. But we didn't get to the end. The format needs to change. We need to have cash up for grabs or something every ten laps, and see who's at the end to grab the most cash. All of us are just going to ride until we get to that point and that's when everyone starts wrecking. We just need to figure out how we can make more winners in the same race instead of more wrecked cars."

WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA 'COLOR OF THE YEAR' CAMARO ZL1 1LE – Sidelined in crash on lap 74; Finished 14th "I just kind of spun the tires. The guy in front of me was spinning the tires. It was just weird; you would never spin the tires that bad on a speedway car. Obviously, it went hard to kind of get accelerated. But I don't know, I just have to look at it."

WAS THERE SOMETHING ON THE TRACK POSSIBLY? "They wrecked and then we ran through that area, but I don't really know. It's hard to say."

DID YOU SEE ANY MOVES OUT OF THE ORDINARY? "No, I mean you're going to do what you can do. It's hard to say what goes on. Just have to be aggressive."

THIS IS YOUR FIRST CLASH. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT? "Yeah, it was alright. It was just kind of waiting until you get to the end, but we didn't get there."

ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 VALVOLINE CAMARO ZL1 1LE - Sidelined in crash on lap 74; Finished 15th"Something happened and I checked-up and the guy behind me decided not to check-up. It just kind of killed the right front and at a certain point, it was just a clash. We worked on it just to get some reps, but didn't want to kill ourselves to make it better. So, it's unfortunate for our Valvoline Camaro. I think overall, we had a good day obviously with qualifying on the front row for the 500. But I'm bummed-out, man! I wanted to go back racing and I feel like we rode around and then we crashed."

WHAT'S IT LIKE TO BE ON THE FRONT ROW FOR THE DAYTONA 500? "Yeah, it's really special. There is a little bit of anxiety that comes along with it, you know, for the Duel, and not wanting to tear your stuff up, but five years ago I came down here and missed the 500. Two years later, I was down here with Hendrick Motorsports on the pole, and every year since then we've been on the front row. It's just a dream come true to be driving for Rick Hendrick and have Hendrick horsepower under the hoods. Man, our car was really fast again today it's just being in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Race Results, 2020 Busch Clash:
Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps, Status , Tms Led, Laps Led
1) 12, Erik Jones, No. 20 Sport Clips Toyota, 88, Running, 1, 1
2) 15, Austin Dillon, No. 3 Symbicort/Rig Up Chevrolet, 88, Running, 1, 6
3) 6, Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford, 88, Running, -, -
4) 4, Kyle Larson, No. 42 Advent Health Chevrolet, 88, Running, 1, 2
5) 1, Ryan Newman, No. 6 Koch Industries Ford, 88, Running, 3, 7
6) 18, Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota, 87, Running, 1, 12
7) 11, Chase Elliott, No. 9 Mountain Dew Zero Sugar Chevrolet, 82, Accident, 2, 7
8) 14, Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Menards/Peak Ford, 78, Accident, -, -
9) 13, Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, 78, Accident, 1, 7
10) 5, Aric Almirola, No. 10 Pure Farmland Ford, 77, Accident, -, -
11) 16, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 77, Accident, -, -
12) 17, Kurt Busch, No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet, 77, Accident, -, -
13) 10, Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Busch Light #PIT4BUSCH Ford, 77, Accident, -, -
14) 7, William Byron, No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet, 74, Accident, 1, 4
15) 8, Alex Bowman, No. 88 Valvoline Chevrolet, 74, Accident, 1, 2
16) 3, Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 SiriusXM Toyota, 72, Accident, 1, 7
17) 2, Brad Keselowski, No. 2 MoneyLion Ford, 66, Accident, 2, 33
18) 9, Kyle Busch, No. 18 M&M's Toyota, 65, Accident, -, -

Total Race Length: 88 Laps - 220. Miles
Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 37 Mins, 51 Secs.
Average Speed: 134.9 MPH
Margin of Victory: .697 Seconds

Caution Flags: 5 for 21 laps;
Laps: 27-30 (Competition [None]);
67-72 (No. 22, 2, 12, 48, 11, 18 Incident Turn 4 [20]);
74-77 (No. 19, 24, 6, 42, 4, 1, 12, 14, 88, 20 Incident Frontstretch [None]);
79-82 (No. 11, 9, 1, 48, 22, 12, 14, 10, 3, 20, 4 Incident Turn 4 {Red: 7:27} [None]);
84-86 (No. 42, 9, 20 Incident Turn 4 [11]).

Lead Changes: 14 among 11 drivers; 
R. Newman 1-2; 
M. Truex Jr. 3-9; 
B. Keselowski 10-24; 
R. Newman 25-28; 
B. Keselowski 29-46; 
W. Byron 47-50; 
K. Larson 51-52; 
C. Elliott 53-56; 
A. Bowman 57-58; 
J. Logano 59-65; 
D. Hamlin 66-77; 
C. Elliott 78-80; 
A. Dillon 81-86; R. Newman 87; 
E. Jones 88.

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2020, Issue 2, Posted 7:22 PM, 02.09.2020