OBSERVATIONS: Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway
As the field rode around the top lane in single-file formation, the begging began for something, anything to happen to make the Advance Auto Parts Clash exciting. Let’s just say that we got more than we bargained for.
Being an exhibition event with no points on the line, the feeling is that the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stars will do whatever it takes to win. It’s also a good time to try things to learn what is possible for Thursday night’s Gander RV Duels and the Daytona 500.
Instead, as we have grown used to on the restrictor plate tracks, the drivers chose to ride in line and conserve their equipment, ready to make a run at the end of the race. The ARCA Menards Series Lucas Oil 150 was the same way on Saturday night, with the top-seven just riding until the late-race caution. Is it time that we just cut the event from 75 laps to 25 and be done with it?
The difficulty to pass was attributed to the cooler temperatures by many of the drivers, as the heat produces a slick track, bringing handling back into the equation, causing drivers to lift and create more runs. After a pair of days with cool wet weather, let’s hope that things warm up by Sunday or else the Daytona 500 may turn into a yawn fest.
Ultimately, the move that changed the game came at the front of the field, with Jimmie Johnson pulling out of line in second to make a run underneath Paul Menard for the lead. With weather closing in, and having got a run, he knew it was now or never to do something. Unfortunately, that did not go as planned for him, or the rest of the field, with 17 of the 20 cars catching damage in the ensuing wreck.
No matter how you look at the incident, you could place blame on Johnson for the move, and the contact. You could also place blame on Menard as he came down a little, just as his spotter Joey Meier described with, “He zigged when you zagged.” There’s also the product of side-draft pulling them together unexpectedly – just like we saw in the practice crash on Saturday with Ryan Newman and Chase Elliott.
Either way, wrecks of this nature are a product of restrictor plate racing in having everyone packed together. They happen every year, and you just hope you’re not in it.
Ultimately with NASCAR calling the event shortly there after for the weather, it makes it look uglier. However, there was nothing they could do as the rain continued through the rest of the night.
Let’s just hope things go smoother on Thursday as we’re already up to 21 wrecked cars in two days of competition.
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