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NASCAR Clash: Hamlin pushes Jones to win after farcical final laps – autosport.com

NASCAR Clash: Hamlin pushes Jones to win after farcical final laps – autosport.com
13 Feb
1:14

Erik Jones claimed victory in a chaotic NASCAR Clash race at Daytona, in which only six cars were able to finish.

A series of accidents in the final laps of the race caused multiple stoppages and slowly whittled the 18-car field down.

Jones was running fourth at the final restart but swept past a host of cars into the lead on the final lap.

Assisted by a push from his lapped Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Denny Hamlin, the Toyota driver held off Austin Dillon to take the win 0.697 seconds ahead of Dillon.

The race was relatively clean for the first 65 laps of the 75 originally scheduled.

Strategy had split the pack into two, with Chase Elliott heading the lead group, made up mostly of Chevrolets. Brad Keselowski led the bottom 10, all of whom had recently pitted to refuel.

The pack regrouped in the final 15 laps and Joey Logano and Kyle Busch were joined by the hard-charging Keselowski at the front of the field. Logano and Busch collided with just 10 laps remaining, and Keselowski was caught up in the incident.

The race was set to go green with just three laps to go but, as the field came to the start/finish line, fourth-place driver Ryan Newman, who was on the outside line, came down – triggering a multi-car pile-up that only three cars managed to escape unscathed.

With the red flag thrown, the race ran into overtime, leaving a two-lap sprint race to the finish.

Before the remaining contenders could finish the first lap of the shootout, however, new race leader Hamlin span into the field, prompting another red flag as a number of drivers were caught up in the incident.

Elliott once again led the pack – now made up of seven cars – but came onto pit road to retire, handing Dillon the race lead.

Newman, who was second on the final restart, briefly took the race lead, before Jones – whose Toyota Camry had sustained significant front-end damage – came through to take the win.

Clint Bowyer avoided most of the drama throughout the race to finish third, ahead of Kyle Larson and Newman.

Hamlin, a lap down, was the last of the finishers.

Elliott was classified seventh, five laps down on the race winner, ahead of Ryan Blaney, Logano, and Aric Almirola.

Source: https://www.autosport.com/nascar/news/148189/jones-pushed-to-win-as-six-cars-make-clash-finish

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