Feb 10, 2020 4:42 AM

Jones wins crash-fest at Daytona to open NASCAR season

Posted Feb 10, 2020 4:42 AM

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The first race of the NASCAR season was a demolition derby that turned Daytona International Speedway into a giant junkyard.

The Busch Clash? More like the Busch Crash.

Erik Jones won Sunday’s race that left a multi-million dollar trail of destruction and masked the fact the Clash was a made-for-TV exhibition race. Only 18 cars were entered and only six were on track when the checkered flag flew at the end of a third overtime.

Jones crossed the finish line in a Toyota with a crumpled hood after a huge push from Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and defending Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin.

“I’ve got to give a huge thanks to Denny there ... he stuck with us there that whole last lap,” Jones said. “It wasn’t the fastest car I don’t think left in the race, but we brought it home. I owe him one for that one, for sure.”

Hamlin was a lap down after a blown tire on the previous overtime attempt caused him to crash half the cars remaining on track, but he had enough speed to push Jones along the outside and give Gibbs yet another win. The Gibbs organization won 19 races last year, went 1-2-3 in the Daytona 500 and won the Cup Series title.

Joe Gibbs is now the all-time winningest owner in Busch Clash history with nine victories.

Brad Keselowski was among those incensed by the aggressive late blocking. The race was fairly anti-climactic until two wrecks in the final nine laps sent it into overtime, and as Keselowski railed against the racing that ended his day, Hamlin got a flat tire as the leader on a restart and collected most of the cars on track.

“Dumb, dumb racing,” said Keselowski, who slapped the side of an ambulance with both hands in frustration. “We shouldn’t be wrecking all these cars. You’d think these guys would be smarter than that. It’s the same thing over and over, somebody throws a stupid block that’s never going to work and wrecks half the field.

“I don’t know. Maybe we need to take the helmets out of these cars and the seat belts out. Somebody will get hurt, and then we’ll stop driving like (expletive).”

Kyle Busch, collected in the accident that ended Keselowski’s day when teammate Joey Logano tried to block Busch, said the crashes are a product of superspeedway racing.

“Either you can race or you can wreck,” Busch said. “The reason why we ride in single file (early in the race) is because we don’t know how to race. Just a product of a few bad decisions there and we’re all crashed.”

The cars raced in Sunday’s exhibition event are backups for the Feb. 16 season-opening Daytona 500.

The 75-lap event ended up going 88 laps because of the late crashes, making it the longest in history.

Austin Dillon was second in the new Chevrolet Camaro and followed by Clint Bowyer in a Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing. Kyle Larson was fourth for Chip Ganassi Racing and Ryan Newman, in a Roush Fenway Racing Ford, was fifth and the last car on the lead lap.

Hamlin in sixth had the only other car running at the end and ended up being a solid teammate.

“It’s so awesome,” Hamlin said. “I knew he needed to strap in because, that last lap, I was going to push him. I didn’t care if I was going to push him into a wreck. I was just going to push him. It was fun.”

Jones led just one lap, the last one.

“I didn’t know it was that bad to be honest with you until now,” Jones said as he looked at his crumpled car. ’But it sure feels good to come out of here with a win, especially in a race with perseverance like that. You don’t want to give up, and when it pays off in the end, it makes it extra special.”

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Feb 10, 2020 4:42 AM
Monday Sports Headlines

HOUSTON (AP) — Quentin Grimes had 14 points and six rebounds, DeJon Jarreau added 12 points and seven rebounds and No. 25 Houston beat Wichita State 76-43. Marcus Sasser and Caleb Mills each had 11 points, and Nate Hinton had 10 points and nine rebounds for Houston. The Cougars have won seven of eight and took over sole possession of first place in the American Athletic Conference. Dexter Dennis had 10 points and six rebounds, and Tyson Etienne and Jaime Echenique each scored seven points for Wichita State. The Shockers have lost three straight.

UNDATED (AP) — Baylor, Kansas, Gonzaga and San Diego State are the top seeds in the NCAA's preliminary rankings. The Bears are the No. 1 overall seed in rankings released by the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee. The preliminary rankings are based on games through Friday. They are designed to be a sneak peek at the selection process before the official seeds are revealed on Selection Sunday, which is March 15. The Final Four is March 27-29 in Atlanta.

National Headlines

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has won the pole for NASCAR's season-opening Daytona 500. Stenhouse turned a fast lap at 194.582 mph to put his new Chevrolet Camaro on the pole for next Sunday's race. Stenhouse is making his debut with JTG-Daugherty Racing after Roush Fenway Racing abruptly fired him late last year. Stenhouse bettered Alex Bowman, who reached 194.363 mph around the 2 1/2-mile superspeedway, to lock down the front row. The starting order for the rest of the 40-car field will be set by a pair of qualifying races Thursday at Daytona International Speedway.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Kemba Walker dropped in 27 points and Jayson Tatum added 26 as the Boston Celtics picked up their seventh straight win, 112-111 at Oklahoma City. Jaylen Brown finished with 17 points for the Celtics, who made 16 3-pointers and improved to 37-15. The Thunder ended a four-game winning streak despite Danilo Gallinari and Gilgeous-Alexander, who scored 24 apiece.

CLEVELAND (AP) — The Los Angeles Clippers handed the Cleveland Cavaliers their worst home loss in franchise history, 133-92 as Lou Williams dropped in 25 points and Paul George added 22. Montrezl Harrell delivered 19 points and nine rebounds off the bench for Los Angeles, which played without Kawhi Leonard because of a sore left knee. The Clippers are tied with Denver for second place in the NBA’s Western Conference at 37-16, three games behind the Los Angeles Lakers.

HOUSTON (AP) — Bojan Bogdanovic drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Utah Jazz a 114-113 victory over the Houston Rockets. Jordan Clarkson scored 30 points and Donovan Mitchell finished with 24 points, six assists and five rebounds for the Jazz, who won their second straight after a five-game losing streak. Russell Westbrook had 39 points for the Rockets, while backcourt mate James Harden added a triple-double of 28 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Furkan Korkmaz scored 31 points and Joel Embiid added 28 with 12 rebounds in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 118-112 victory over the Chicago Bulls. Korkmaz stayed hot after netting a career-high 34 points in Friday’s 119-107 home win over Memphis. Ben Simmons added 19 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds as Philadelphia improved their league-best home record to 24-2.

Sunday Scores

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Final Marquette 76 (19)Butler 57

Final (25)Houston 76 Wichita St. 43

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Final Boston 112 Oklahoma City 111

Final Philadelphia 118 Chicago 111

Final Memphis 106 Washington 99

Final 2OT Atlanta 140 New York 135

Final Utah 114 Houston 113

Final L.A. Clippers 133 Cleveland 92

Final Portland 115 Miami 109