DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – An action-packed 75 laps kicked off the 2017 season in Sunday afternoon’s The Clash at Daytona International Speedway as Alex Bowman led his teammates to the checkered flag.
Taking the green flag in eighth, the 23-year-old soldiered through 75 laps of close racing to bring home a third-place finish.
“To come home third shows what a great race car Hendrick Motorsports brings to the track,” Bowman said after the race. “I’ve got to thank all the guys at Nationwide Insurance and Mountain Dew for letting me do this. I’ve got to thank Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. It means a lot to have driven this car for Hendrick Motorsports for 11 races now. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve made a lot of memories and I hope to do it again someday.”
Chase Elliott logged a top-10 finish, crossing the finish line in seventh.
A late-race caution brought Jimmie Johnson’s day to an early end as his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS retired to the garage.
“After that (Lap 18) caution and the last long stretch before I crashed again,” Johnson said, “just off of Turn 4. The sun certainly sits on that edge of the track a little bit harder than anywhere else. We will take some notes and learn from those mistakes and apply that to the (Daytona) 500 car.”
Joey Logano claimed the win.
Below is a closer look at how the three Hendrick Motorsports drivers fared in Sunday’s The Clash. Kasey Kahne did not meet the requirements to compete in the non-points race.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS CHEVROLET SS:
RECAP: Taking the green flag in 14th, Elliott hung at the rear of the field throughout the first segment of the 75-lap race. Following a Lap 18 caution, Elliott pitted for an overheating engine. After some tape work by the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS team, Elliott returned to the track in 13th. The racing returned to three-wide with Elliott once again finding the middle lane. Drafting helped Elliott’s line move forward and the driver assumed 11th position. Prior to a Lap 50 caution, the second-year driver was running in 10th. He visited pit road before restarting in 11th with 21 laps remaining. Elliott held on through the exciting final laps to bring home a seventh-place finish.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET SS:
RECAP: Leading his teammates to the green flag in sixth, Johnson found himself in the middle line of three-wide racing early on. After falling back to just inside the top 10, Johnson used his track position to propel him forward, driving inside the top five by Lap 8. However, Johnson battled a free Chevrolet and after making contact with a competitor on Lap 18, his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS received repairs on pit road before rejoining the rear of the field. Following the competition caution, Johnson moved to run the outside line in 15th. Johnson’s day ended early, however, when his Chevy got loose on the exit of Turn 4 once again, causing the driver to spin. The No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS retired to the garage for the remainder of the race.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 NATIONWIDE CHEVROLET SS:
RECAP: Starting directly behind teammate Johnson in eighth, Bowman stuck to the No. 48 Chevy’s bumper as the racing went three-wide early on. After falling outside the top 10, Bowman rallied, driving back up to ninth before the first caution of the day was brought out. Bowman received a penalty for speeding on pit road and was forced to restart at the rear of the field. However, pit road strategy played in Bowman’s favor a few laps later as he restarted inside the top five following the competition caution. The 23-year-old chose the inside lane, moving into the third position before once again falling back to just inside the top 10 in ninth. Bowman continued to run mid-pack before moving inside the top 10 once again when the field restarted with 11 laps to go. Holding his own through a wild final two laps, Bowman drove his No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS to a third-place finish.