Tha Sports Junkies 101

Brad Keselowski Opens 2018 Season with Clash Victory

Photo by NASCARMedia


The roar of engines was once again present on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway. NASCAR’s short offseason is now over, as The Clash was contested on Sunday. After starting last and leading 43 laps, Brad Keselowski won the season-opening exhibition race.

This race’s starting lineup was determined by a random drawing. Austin Dillon drew pole position, while Brad Keselowski picked starting position 17, dead last. The field of 17 would only have 75 laps to knock off the rust from 3 months of being off duty.

Sunday’s race started off relatively calm, with Dillon leading the first lap of the year. The limits of the new 2018 aerodynamics package would be tested early, as many drivers made hard charges for the lead in the race’s first stage. Keselowski won the first 25 lap segment of the race.

One key aspect of the new aero package is the ability to complete passes in the pack on superspeedways. Rather than stalling out, 2 or more drivers are now able to mount a successful charge for the lead. This is in stark contrast to races in recent years.

Race Recap

Lap 34 saw some slight contact between Kurt Busch and Jamie McMurray. The result was a spinning McMurray, as this incident brought out the second caution. Not long after, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was penalized for making a pass below the yellow line, which is illegal at Daytona and Talladega.

While Daytona 500 Pole Qualifying was dominated by Chevrolet and Toyota, The Clash was Ford’s time to shine. All of the top 4 finishers were Ford drivers, with Logano, Kurt Busch, and Ryan Blaney following Keselowski.

At the white flag, Ryan Blaney attempted to make a pass on Keselowski for the win. This melee at the front of the field caused a traffic jam mid-pack. As a result, Kyle Larson got into Jimmie Johnson. Johnson collected Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Martin Truex Jr., and Chase Elliott. This is the 7th-straight year Jimmie Johnson has not finished The Clash.

Keselowski’s victory marks his first ever in Daytona Speedweeks, as well as his best finish in 7 Clash starts. Earlier in the week, Las Vegas named Brad as a favorite to win the Daytona 500, at 8-1 odds. With momentum from The Clash, Brad is looking as strong as ever to win the 500.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will return to action Thursday night for the Can Am Duels. Don’t miss a single lap of the Duels at 7 PM EST on FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.