What Happened at Daytona Today?
The Hendrick cars ran over the field, at one point, literally. Hendrick swept the first four positions of Daytona 500 qualifying, with the 24 of William Byron and 88 of Alex Bowman securing the locked-in front row positions. Later, Jimmie Johnson wrecked Paul Menard, and essentially the whole field, on his way to victory in the Clash at Daytona.
Obviously, it’s the second of the two events that has been gaining the most attention. The 75-lap Clash was put under red twice for rain, and when it looked like it was going to rain again, Johnson made his move under race leader Paul Menard. But, Johnson made contact with Menard who didn’t appear to have moved down much, if at all. The contact resulted in Menard spinning and taking out most of the field. The subsequent rain then did start to fall, and the race was over with Johnson walking to victory lane with his umbrella.
What They Said
The usually politically correct Johnson was surprisingly unaware (or uncaring) about his role in what happened, saying it was more of a racing incident than anything.
“Knowing the rain’s coming. I could see it coming,” Johnson said. “We could see it coming and I knew that was probably my lap to make the move and I had a great run down the back. I got below him before he blocked him. I think he came down a little bit to defend and block. I got that move inside of him and was hopeful the 1 was going to be following me through. Certainly hate to see all these cars tore up.”
The typically mild-mannered and soft-spoken Menard on the other hand, while watching the replay on Fox said what many of us were thinking.
“Yeah. Jimmie does that a lot at these tracks, so that’s unfortunate,” Menard said.
Sure is, Paul.
What We Think
Jimmie was in the wrong. And he shouldn’t have gotten the win for it. In an exhibition race, it’s probably not a HUGE deal, but he clearly miscalculated and wrecked a lot of race cars. And Menard is correct – Johnson seems to do this a lot at Superspeedway tracks. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen again this speedweeks.
But to shrug it off as a racing incident – you’re better than that, James.