Brad Keselowski has come into his own as a restrictor-plate racer over the past few seasons, and it was only fitting that he led off 2018 with a win at the world center of racing. Even despite starting shotgun on the field, he guaranteed a victory in the Advance Auto Parts Clash Sunday afternoon.
He got the job done, leading the final 34 laps en route to his first Clash win at Daytona International Speedway.
The battle for the lead was intense early on, with three-wide racing throughout the 17-car field. Austin Dillon started on the pole for this race, and led lap one, and then Chase Elliott, with a couple of bold moves, grabbed the lead and held it until Lap 24, when Joey Logano, with drafting help from defending Monster Energy Cup Series Champion Martin Truex Jr., took the lead with two laps to go in segment one.
Before the end of Lap 25, Logano, along with ten other drivers, took their first pit stop of the day before the mandatory caution to end segment one. Kyle Larson led lap 26, but it was Kevin Harvick who took lead before the caution came out to end the first segment.
Keselowski led the field to the green flag to begin the final segment of the race, and the action continued until Jamie McMurray hit the outside wall in turn three to bring out the second caution of the race on Lap 34. McMurray soldiered on, but eventually failed to finish.
On Lap 41, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. attempted to make a pass on Kyle Busch, but had to serve a stop-and-go penalty, because he completed his pass below the yellow line on the Daytona backstretch. His team argued the penalty to no avail.
From there, Brad Keselowski took the lead, with Penske Racing teammates Ryan Blaney in second, and Joey Logano in third, and the pack went single file until the last lap.
Kyle Larson had a run down the backstretch, and attempted bump draft Jimmie Johnson, but instead spun him out, and also wrecked in the process. The crash also took out Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, and Chase Elliott. The last-lap wreck was Jimmie Johnson’s 7th consecutive DNF in the Clash.
Joey Logano finished 2nd, Kurt Busch finished 3rd, Ryan Blaney finished in 4th, and Austin Dillon, who started on the pole, rounded out the top five.