Friday, 15 February, 2019

Johnson wins rain-shortened Clash at Daytona

Tanner Berryhill during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race on Sunday Nov. 11 2018 in Avondale Ariz. More Tanner Berryhill during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race on Sunday Nov. 11 2018 in Avondale Ariz. More
Kristopher Love | 13 February, 2019, 19:53

Byron led a Hendrick Motorsports sweep of the top four times in qualifying, with Alex Bowman earning the outside of the front row for the Great American Race.

Most notably, the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets are really good in single auto runs, while the new Ford Mustangs are really good running nose-to-tail in a single-file line. "Is that not enough cars?' But take the Clash away ... make it a point race or make it one of the weekends we take off the schedule". It's tough to say what you have in Daytona for these two weeks really carry into the season and Atlanta, Phoenix, California, all that stuff. After splitting with Johnson at the end of last season, Knaus essentially repeated the feat with Byron. Sunday's performances answered that question.

Johnson for a year has insisted he can still win a record eighth championship, and now he must do it with first-year Cup crew chief Kevin Meendering. "It's not a points race but it's a good start". "It's a great first step today".

To be eligible, drivers must meet one of five criteria: past Daytona 500 winners and past Daytona 500 pole winners who raced full-time last season, previous Clash winners who raced full-time a year ago, pole winners from last season and drivers who qualified for the playoffs in 2018. "To be a part of that and be able to come back as crew chief of the No. 24 vehicle and qualify first for the Daytona 500 is just an awesome dream for me".

The 43-year-old Johnson tweeted "I'm far from done" in the offseason, and with a risky move in the rain, he showed there's plenty left.

"You know a driver can't really do much", Bowman said. "We continued with the Wednesday, Feb. 6, press conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame with great optimism about our program coming together in time to make it to Daytona International Speedway".

"I lost my voice, I've been screaming and yelling for a long time".

Knaus' and Byron's pole didn't come with the controversy that accompanied Johnson's victory.

On Lap 43 of the scheduled 80-lap race, Eric Caudell got tagged from behind while slowing down to approach pit road and slammed into the inside retaining wall.

"I didn't try to crash Paul".

"It was putting some pressure on me", Johnson said. I'm very remorseful. I'm probably more remorseful than any driver in the field when stuff like this happens. "Jimmie does that a lot at these tracks, so that's unfortunate". Johnson didn't deny it.

"We worked our way up into maybe the fourth spot when they started crashing in front of us", said Logano. "That's what we do".

Kurt Busch finished second and team owner Chip Ganassi went to NASCAR officials to argue that Johnson should be disqualified for going below the double-yellow line in the incident.