NASCAR Cup Series: Jimmie Johnson wins 2019 Advance Auto Parts Clash

NASCAR Cup Series: Jimmie Johnson wins 2019 Advance Auto Parts Clash

Leading into Sunday, stories surrounding Jimmie Johnson concerned his potential to bounce back from a frustrating 2018 Monster Energy Cup Series campaign with new crew chief Kevin Meendering. Johnson's win continued a banner day for Hendrick Motorsports. "It's not a points race, but it's a good start".

"I knew the rain was coming, so I was trying to set-up my move and make my run on the No. 21 [Menard] auto", Johnson said. But after starting from the pole and leading 51 of the race's first 55 laps, Menard lost the top spot and a potential victory after contact with eventual victor Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson and longtime crew chief Chad Knaus split at the end of last season after seven championships. "We're prepared. This is the first step of our process together". Even with rain on the way and the race likely being called within a few laps from the time of the incident.

The 20-car field was comprised of drivers who won a Cup pole in 2018, former Clash winners who competed full-time in 2018, former Daytona 500 winners who competed full-time in 2018, former Daytona 500 pole winners who competed full-time in 2018, and drivers who qualified for last year's Cup playoffs. "I could see it coming", Johnson said. He had a discussion with a NASCAR official after the race, claiming Johnson took his lead by passing below the track's yellow line, an illegal move according to the NASCAR rule book. But Johnson was not penalized because the wreck forced him that low. We can kind of hang out during the Duel races, learn a little bit.

Menard was positioned to win for Wood Brothers Racing only weeks after the death of team founder Glen Wood.

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A large crash, beginning with contact between Paul Menard and Jimmie Johnson, collects most of the 20 cars in the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway on February 10, 2019.

The No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet of runner-up Kurt Busch also passed inspection, and the cars of third-place Joey Logano, fourth-place Ryan Blaney and fifth-place Alex Bowman all got looks as well.

"I felt like it was aggressive side-drafting", Menard said. He was down at least 25 laps in five straight Clashes, and understands just how quickly a race at Daytona can change. "I got below him before he could block it".

Little did they know what was about to happen before the final red flag that called the race.

Johnson had already proved at Daytona he was good on the long run - and with the 48 in the garage. He finished first in his 40 to 44 age division early Sunday in the Daytona Beach half marathon with a time of 1 hour, 34 minutes, 18.4 seconds.

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