Kyle Busch snuck by Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney to claim his second Busch Clash victory Tuesday night in the first Clash held on the Daytona International Speedway road course.
Elliott overdrove the second half of the frontstretch chicane and made contact with Blaney in the frontstretch chicane. Blaney spun and hit the outside wall, allowing Busch to inch by Elliott to claim his second win in the Clash.
For Busch, it is his second Clash win and his first since 2012. In 2012, Busch made a tri-oval pass on Tony Stewart to secure a comeback win after nearly wrecking the car twice in the race. His win in 2012, however, was on the oval, in contrast to his Tuesday night win on the road course.
“When you have races like this, it lends itself a lot more to driver, car, setup,” Busch said. “As you saw, there were comers and goers with tire strategies. With Daytona oval, it’s anyone’s race.”
Busch started 16th but quickly moved inside the top 10 in the first few laps of the race. Busch kept the car clean throughout the race, managing to avoid troubles with hitting the mud and dirt on the backstretch chicane which had plagued many drivers, including teammate Martin Truex Jr., throughout the race.
Busch led only one lap to win his first race with Ben Beshore as his full-time crew chief — in stark contrast to Busch having to wait until the 34th race of the 2020 season to score a win.
Chase Elliott finished second after leading four laps. With five laps to go, Elliott restarted in the lead with older tires on the final restart. Elliott held the lead until Blaney, running on newer tires, took it from him with two laps to go. Elliott rallied to make a charge in the frontstretch chicane on Blaney but contact between the two drivers knocked Elliott back to second.
“Yeah, obviously coming into a tight corner there, I drove in so hard, you know, and I was to the right, my angle was really bad,” Elliott stated. “I just had to stop really to try to make the corner. At that point we were side-by-side trying to stay off the curb. We both know that the curb, you don’t want to hit any more of it than you have to.
“I certainly don’t want to wreck him out of anybody. And more than anything, hate neither one of us won. Hate to hand it to somebody else like that.”
Ryan Blaney was knocked back to 13th after the final lap incident with Elliott. Blaney led four laps in the race.
“I didn’t do the best job on the last lap after I got by him. I missed turn 1, and 5 as well. I thought I was in a good position off of six but I hit the dang mud.” Blaney said. “We’re both good friends but we’re hard competitors and I knew he was going to make the move.”
“Chase and I are good enough friends to where we can talk about it. We’re going to be able to sit down and talk about it…these things happen.”
The full Top 10 finishers were as follows: Kyle Busch (one lap led), Chase Elliott (four laps led), Joey Logano, Tyler Reddick (one lap led), William Byron, Denny Hamlin (21 laps led), Alex Bowman, Erik Jones, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Matt DiBenedetto.
Ty Dillon finished 18th, on the lead lap, in 23XI Racing’s debut.
There were 13 lead changes among eight drivers and four cautions for eight laps in the 35-lap race.
The first caution flew on Lap 8 for substantial dirt on the racing surface in the backstretch chicane.
After a Lap 15 competition caution, the third caution flew on Lap 23 for Cole Custer who encountered mechanical issues after overshooting the frontstretch chicane. Custer’s team fixed the mechanical issue fixed and he finished 20th, three laps down.
The fourth and final caution flew on Lap 29 for Martin Truex Jr. who clipped the dirt on the backstretch chicane and wrecked out of the lead, just after taking it from teammate Denny Hamlin on the same lap.
Truex finished last in the 21-driver field as the only driver to score a DNF. In contrast, last year’s Clash on the oval saw 12 of the 18 drivers score a DNF.
Daytona 500 Qualifying is the next Speedweek event set to take place. Coverage of qualifying begins at 7:30 p.m. ET (TV: FS1, Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).