Notebook: Breaking down ‘The Clash’ at Daytona – Nascar

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Joey Logano made his mistakes early, Denny Hamlin made his late and therein was the difference in Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway.

It was the first win for the Team Penske driver in the non-points event but Logano’s been to Victory Lane here before – two years ago he stood in the Winner’s Circle and hoisted the Harley J. Earl trophy overhead as champion of the Daytona 500.

The Clash isn’t a points-paying event, but teams don’t have to look far for incentives. It’s a race, and for most that’s more than enough. And because Saturday’s weather refused to cooperate, this year’s running of the 75-lap event was pushed to Sunday, run under sunny skies instead of the glare of lights and gave teams a better idea of what to expect a week from today when the 2017 season officially gets underway.

“This track definitely changes a lot when the sun comes out and the draft really works completely different,” Logano said afterward. “To be able to get a good read on how that’s going to be for next Sunday is going to be nice.”

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Daylight or dark didn’t matter when Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, went barreling into Turn 1 in pursuit of Hamlin with less than one lap remaining. Hamlin, the defending Daytona 500 winner, did the only thing he could – he dropped low in an attempt to block the No. 2 Ford.

By now you know the rest of the story. There was contact between the two, Logano shot to the high side and three-quarters of a lap later took the checkered flag.

“Denny had to make the block,” Logano acknowledged, “but I was able to see the block was coming way too late and it wasn’t going to work.”

Mistakes made by the driver of the No. 22 Ford were of little consequence because they were primarily moves during the opening 25-lap segment. “I was definitely a little bit rusty from the last time I went superspeedway racing,” Logano said, “and Tab (Boyd, spotter) and myself … we were able to kind of clean up our mistakes for later in the race.”


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