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Brad Keselowski kicked off the 2018 NASCAR season with a first-place finish at the Advance Auto Parts Clash Sunday.
While the race doesn’t count toward the Monster Energy Series standings, the 75-lap race at Daytona International Speedway is the first competitive event of the season and represents a great way for the No. 2 car to kick off the year.
A massive crash on the final lap took out a good portion of the field, but Keselowski led 41 laps to win the 17-man race.
Advance Auto Parts Clash Results
1. Brad Keselowski (2)
2. Joey Logano (22)
3. Kurt Busch (41)
4. Ryan Blaney (12)
5. Austin Dillon (3)
6. Denny Hamlin (11)
7. Kyle Busch (18)
8. Erik Jones (20)
9. Kevin Harvick (4)
10. Kyle Larson (42)
Full results available at NASCAR.com.
Keselowski was confident in the win, predicting victory on Twitter earlier in the day:
Brad Keselowski @keselowski
I believe that we will win 😁🏁 https://t.co/uZd2qb6Piz
He started in last place but took over the lead around the midway point and never gave it up, despite the majority of the field sitting right behind him nearly all race long.
When those in the middle tried making a move on the final lap, it led to a mess that took out six cars. Keselowski stayed in front of the drama and earned the checkered flag:
That was wild! @JimmieJohnson, @KyleLarsonRacin among those caught in it. https://t.co/WKv7cPMCbg
CHECKERED FLAG: @keselowski brings home the 🏁 #AdvanceAutoClash https://t.co/xiLU6tipfd
Joey Logano, who won this event last year, ended just off the lead for a second-place finish. Kurt Busch rounded out the top three with just a few drivers crossing the line with the leaders.
There were only three cautions during the race, although Jamie McMurray was forced to the garage early after contact with Kurt Busch forced him into the wall:
FOX: NASCAR @NASCARONFOX
Trouble! Contact from Kurt Busch sends Jamie McMurray into the wall and through the grass. #NASCARonFS1 https://t.co/VuKqCT13AN
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was then penalized for going inside the yellow line, but the remaining 15 drivers stayed on the lead lap going into the homestretch.
A single-file run prevented much movement until Jimmie Johnson slammed into the wall and prevented others from finishing. Still, Keselowski deserves the credit for coming through with a win in the all-star field.
Although this race previously featured a minimum of 25 entries, this year’s field was a more exclusive list of drivers. Those in the 2017 playoffs were joined by 2017 pole winners, former Clash winners and former Daytona 500 pole winners.
This led to a small group of drivers and a wide-open race that was over in the blink of an eye.
The drivers will now be back in action Thursday for the Can-Am Duels, all leading up to the 2018 Daytona 500 set for Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET.