Kyle Busch wins exhibition race after friends clash in final turn

Speedweeks off to a fast start at Daytona International Speedway

By Don Coble don@opcfla.com
Posted 2/10/21

DAYTONA BEACH – Kyle Busch couldn’t catch a break during most of the 2020 racing season. Things are already better in 2021.

Busch drove through a last-corner accident to go from third to …

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Kyle Busch wins exhibition race after friends clash in final turn

Speedweeks off to a fast start at Daytona International Speedway

Posted

DAYTONA BEACH – Kyle Busch couldn’t catch a break during most of the 2020 racing season. Things are already better in 2021.

Busch drove through a last-corner accident to go from third to Victory Lane in the Busch Clash exhibition race Tuesday night the Daytona International Speedway. The wreck between Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott was nothing more than friendly fire, it allowed Busch to lead the final 125 yards – the only time he was out front on the 3.61-mile, 14-turn, road course – but they were the only ones that mattered.

“Yeah, I kind of felt like there was an interesting opportunity there that was presenting itself. I was kind of catching those guys and running them down for a couple laps there towards the end. I think they were pushing each other a little bit, kind of messing each other up more so than being able to run clean laps,” Busch said. “I was gaining. I wasn’t going to get there. But obviously they got together there in that final corner. I wasn’t sure if Chase was going to push the issue and push back on Blaney and knock him through the turn and make him miss the exit or what was going to happen. The both of them had to make the turtles [speed bump curbing], if you will. They just got together and started crashing.

“When that started happening, I was hoping they were going to wreck long enough that I could get up in there and get by them, we could win the thing. It’s never over till it’s over at these types of places, especially when you have those last-corner, last-ditch-effort chicanes like here and the [Charlotte] Roval.”

Elliott recovered to finish second, followed by Joey Logano in third, Tyler Reddick in fourth and William Byron in fifth. Blaney limped home in 13th place.

“I certainly don’t want to wreck him out of anybody,” said Elliott, who’s won the last four points-paying road course races on the Cup Series schedule. “And more than anything, hate neither one of us won. Hate to hand it to somebody else like that.”

Blaney agreed.

“But I told him if you’re going to make a move like that, make sure you at least win the race,” he said. “Don’t hand it to the third-place guy.”

The Clash was an invitation-only 35-lap race among 21 drivers. The regular season is scheduled to start Sunday with the Daytona 500. The Cup Series then will return to the Daytona road course for 70-lap main event on Nov. 21.

Other races this week include the Duels qualifying races that determine the Daytona 500 starting lineup on Thursday, the NextEra 250 for the Camping World Truck Series on Friday and the Beef, It’s What’s For Dinner 300 for the Xfinity Series on Saturday.

The starting lineup for Tuesday’s Clash was determined in a blind drawing. Blaney started on the pole, but Denny Hamlin passed him on the first lap and he stayed ahead for 21 laps. Blaney finally got to the front with five laps remaining, only to lose the opportunity to win after being turned coming out of the final chicane.

For Busch, it was a lucky turn of events. He won a single race last year, and that didn’t come until the 34th race of the 36-race season.

“We just did our job, executed as well as we could execute,” he said. “It all kind of came together there at the end.”

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