NASCAR returned the the track today with the annual running of The Clash at Daytona. It was a frustrating race overall, ending with a 17 car pileup and a downpour. Here’s what stood out.
Dodging the weather
Unfortunately for everyone involved, weather was the main story today. Rain stopped the race three separate times before eventually ending the race.
NASCAR wasn’t quick with the trigger on cautions, however. Multiple drivers complained for multiple laps about rain before NASCAR finally put a stop to the racing.
Caution for rain. … just before: Ryan Blaney: "Through the #$@$#@@# caution @#$@#@#" #nascar
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) February 10, 2019
Follow the (Paul Menard)
From lap three on, the high side was just about the only place to be during Sunday’s Clash at Daytona. Like we’ve seen before, it was a one-lap freight train up top. Without any organization on the bottom, Paul Menard had a breeze of a start, racking up all the laps led for the first half of this race.
We saw Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney attempt to make moves on the bottom, to no avail. The only driver that was really able to make anything happen alone was Daniel Suarez, who picked off positions one by one using side-draft.
Later in the race, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski attempted to make something happen down low, looking for the lead. They ended up stalling out, going in reverse to the middle of the pack.
THAT move from Jimmie Johnson…
Johnson called it a “racing deal” after the race, but Paul Menard clearly disagreed.
What happened from Paul Menard's view?
"Jimmie does that a lot at these tracks, so that's unfortunate." pic.twitter.com/FaZlqVhsP5
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 10, 2019
Menard isn’t wrong. Before today, Johnson had wreck out of seven straight Clash races — a truly insane stat. Jimmie made the move because of the looming rain, but didn’t leave much breathing room for Menard, who clearly did dip low.
What did we learn?
Quite honestly not much. This race never found its groove, thanks to the on and off rain. It looked like a typical plate race these days — a parade around the top. Right when business was about to pick up, the 17 car wreck and the rains came.
Jimmie Johnson did have a run on Paul Menard and it would have been interesting to see who would have gone with him. Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney were the aggressors towards the end and may have been able to make something happen with the top line finally broken up.
One thing did hold true today — carnage tends to follow the No. 48 machine at Daytona.