Erik Jones wins crash-filled Busch Clash thanks to final lap push from Denny Hamlin
Only six of the 18 cars finished the race
Erik Jones grabbed a win at the Busch Clash at Daytona, the season-opening NASCAR Cup Series exhibition race, on Sunday, but the victory was not without a little help from a Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and a lot of drama on the track. In the 13th lap of overtime and 88th lap overall, Jones crossed the finish line as the victor in a hard fought race.
He was one of just six drivers out of 18 to finish, as crashes left many cars too damaged to continue.
Jones did not get away unscathed. The front of his No. 20 Toyota Camry was mangled and parts of the car were held together with tape as he led the final lap. A little duct tape and perseverance kept him in it.
As Jones led the final lap, his only lead of the day, Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin helped him secure that checkered flag. Hamlin lost two laps after spinning out with a flat tire and was therefore not in contention to win it himself, but was ready and willing to assist a friend.
Jones, whose car was visually in the worse shape, was literally pushed by Hamlin in the final lap.
"It was an awesome race. I've got to give a huge thanks to Denny. He gave us a huge push that last run. It wasn't the fastest car in the race, but we brought it home."
Jones was dragging, but Hamlin was able to push him past Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman and Clint Bowyer in that final lap.
"I think, honestly, it was so draggy it wasn't too much for him to lock on and push us to the win," Jones said after the win. "Hopefully, next Sunday [in the Daytona 500] we can cap off another one."
Hamlin had intended to push Jones no matter what and explained his game plan after the race.
"I knew he was going to be in for a ride. It was just a matter of whether he could handle it," Hamlin said. "I knew that last lap he needed to strap in, because I was going to push him. I didn't care if I pushed him into a wreck — I was going to push him."
Dillon came in second, followed by Bowyer in third, Kyle Larson in fourth and Hamlin in fifth.
Not everyone walked away happy with how things went down, though. Videos of the many crashes tell the story of the day.
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