Last-Lap Crash Relegates Dominant Hamlin to 13th-Place Finish in Clash at Daytona
Denny Hamlin led a race-high 48 laps in Sunday's Clash at Daytona pre-season exhibition race in the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, but a last-lap crash with second-place Brad Keselowski relegated Hamlin to a 13th-place finish in the 75-lap, non-points event.
Keselowski and teammate Joey Logano lined up in tandem to try to overtake Hamlin on the white flag lap into Turn 1 at the 2.5-mile, high-banked speedway. Hamlin, attempting to block the inside line, made contact with Keselowski and was sent into a sideways slide as Logano raced around to capture the victory.
“They (Keselowski and Logano) came with such a head of steam, there wasn’t much I could do,” said Hamlin, a three-time winner of the event. “Once they were able to move by my teammates and it was those two versus me, I knew I was in trouble. I did everything I could to try to block the bottom, but the 2 (Keselowski) was going so much faster with his push that he was already there.”
Hamlin started second and battled Keselowski for the top spot in the early going. Utilizing a bit of pit strategy just prior to a competition caution on Lap 25, all four Joe Gibbs Racing entries made green-flag stops to inherit the lead after the short break.
From there, Hamlin and teammates Daniel Suarez, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch ran nose-to-tail at the front of the field as the laps clicked, and it looked as though Hamlin was primed to capture his fourth Clash win. However, the Penske duo caught drafting help at the right time, working by the three JGR cars to single out the #11 Toyota on the final lap.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series begins in earnest next Sunday, February 26, with the 59th running of the Daytona 500.