Updated deterrence system aims to 'police within the event'
RELATED: Stage lengths revealed for 2017 races NASCAR competition officials issued an updated deterrence system Thursday for its three national series, shifting toward an officiating process that penalizes pre-race infractions within a given race weekend. The updated system is months in the making, with the sanctioning body and teams working concurrently on the new procedures. The move was one of several fundamental changes made to the penalty structure ahead of on-track activity this week at Daytona International Speedway. The new system replaces the P1-through-P6 penalty classification which had been in effect since the start of the 2014 season. The new structure grades significant penalties into Levels 1 and 2, both of which involve points deductions and crew chief or team member suspensions that increase with a given violation's severity. Elton Sawyer, NASCAR Vice President of Officiating and Technical Inspection, said that in the event that less severe infractions are found before a race, teams or crew members would be disciplined from a menu of penalty options available to NASCAR's three series directors. Those range from the loss of practice time to loss of lap(s) at the start of a race. "Our goal was to be able to, more like football or basketball or any sporting event to where we could officiate and police within the event," Sawyer told NASCAR.com. "I think the real message is that we want to get these infractions, the smaller infractions, we want to get them corrected at the race track. "It's very similar to a 15-yard penalty. If you can get three 15-yard penalties and you can still win the game or drive down and score a touchdown, then good for you. If we can issue these penalties and you lose pit selection or you start at the back or a drive-through (penalty), and you can still come back and win the race, well then we feel like what that infraction was, the penalty fits the crime." A chief reasoning behind the updated policy is to mete out potential penalties more closely to the time – and at the event – in which they occur. "The Tuesday penalties, they wouldn't necessarily go away," Sawyer told NASCAR.com. "We're hoping that we don't have to write those penalties. That's not what we look forward to. We want all the positive storylines to be around the excitement of the race, and as the stewards of the sport -- or the umpires, if you will -- we want to kind of be in the background. But we have a role and responsibility in this as well to make sure it's a level playing field for all." RELATED: Tire limits among '17 rules updates " Learn about the rules package The updates also detail the schematics of a new pre-race inspection protocol, which requires that vehicles must proceed through all four inspection stations, regardless of whether issues are found in any stage in the process. Fixes must now be made in each team's garage stall, rather than off to the side of any given station, and then vehicles must proceed through all four inspection sites again. Sawyer said that the additional time it takes to make a full inspection pass serves as a deterrent for teams, which could miss portions of practice or qualifying in the event of an issue. Eliminating repairs made off to the side of inspection stations also tightens up any gray areas on the fringes of the garage. "I think it's fair to say that if we make them go back to the garage, then that's a central location for all cars to be fixed," Sawyer told NASCAR.com. "They know they have to come back through every station again, so it does put the deterrent back on the teams and puts the responsibility back on the teams to present their vehicles in compliance with the rule book." RELATED: New participation guidelines put limits in place for 2017 Among the other highlights from Thursday's updates to the rule book: • The penalty structure for violations that rise to the L1 or L2 level were unveiled, subject to enforcement at the following event(s): L1 penalties concern areas of minimum heights and weights, the Laser Inspection Station (LIS), gear ratios, and flagrant lug nut violations where 17 or fewer are properly secured. L2 penalties involve more egregious infractions concerning tampering with the three "no man's land" technical areas of tires, engine and fuel. Major safety violations, the use of telemetry or traction control , plus breaches of the testing policy also fall under the L2 designation. Penalty options for all three NASCAR national series call for the deduction of 10 to 40 points for L1 violations and 75 points for L2 infractions. In the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, L1 penalties call for crew chief or team member suspensions for 1 to 3 races, plus a $25,000 to $75,000 fine. L2 penalties in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series come with a six-race suspension and fines ranging from $100,000 to $200,000. The disciplinary action is scaled back in the other two national series. In the NASCAR XFINITY Series, L1 penalties will result in the same one- to three-race suspension range, but with fines from $10,000-$40,000. L2 violations in XFINITY events also come with a six-race suspension guideline, but a $50,000-$100,000 range for fines. In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, L1 penalties carry a one- or two-race suspension with fines from $5,000 to $20,000. L2 infractions will result in a four-race suspension with monetary penalties of $25,000 to $50,000. • Specific penalties were outlined for lug-nut and LIS violations in the Monster Energy Series. LIS infractions discovered after Coors Light Pole Qualifying will result in a team's time being disallowed. Post-race, the violation falls under an L1 heading with a three-race crew chief suspension, a $65,000 fine and the loss of 35 championship points. Teams with one improperly attached or missing lug nut post-race are subject to a $10,000 fine. That fine doubles and includes a one-race suspension for the crew chief if two lug nuts are improperly attached or missing. If three or more lug nuts are in violation of the rules, the penalty rises to the L1 level with three-race suspension for the crew chief, a $65,000 fine and the deduction of 35 championship points. • "Encumbered" finishes -- a rules concept introduced before the Monster Energy Series' playoffs last year -- will remain in effect this season for post-race L1 and L2 violations. The rules allow a victory to stand in the event of an infraction, but a winning team will be stripped of the benefits associated with the win. • The list of pre-race penalties within a race weekend at the series directors' disposal, in order of increasing severity: Loss of annual "hard card" credential, loss of practice time, loss of pit selection position, tail of the field penalty, a green-flag pass-through on pit road after the initial start, a green-flag stop-and-go in the pits after the start, and lap(s) penalty. • Sawyer said that NASCAR competition officials will continue the practice of taking select cars back to the R&D center for further inspection after a race weekend. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Get ready for the Daytona 500 with driver interviews
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! " Speedweeks schedule Drivers take center stage starting at 8:30 a.m. ET Wednesday for the Media Day live stream presented by NAPA as excitement builds toward Sunday's Daytona 500 . Don't miss any of the stories, banter and laughs as NASCAR.com live streams the event til 3:30 p.m. ET. Watch here . Hosts Jonathan Merryman and Kim Coon will talk with drivers about the Daytona 500 and the 2017 season. Here's the event lineup (all times Eastern): 8:30 a.m.: Aric Almirola 8:40 a.m.: Austin Dillon , Matt DiBenedetto 8:45 a.m.: Chris Buescher 8:50 a.m.: Joey Gase BREAK (35 min) 9:35 a.m.: Michael McDowell , AJ Allmendinger 9:40 a.m.: David Gilliland 9:45 a.m.: Joey Logano BREAK (25 min) 10:20 a.m.: Chip Wile 10:30 a.m.: Brendan Gaughan , Darrell Wallace Jr . 10:35 a.m.: Cole Custer 10:40 a.m.: Blake Koch 10:50 a.m.: Brennan Poole 11:05 a.m.: Dale Earnhardt Jr . 11:10 a.m.: Daniel Hemric , Brandon Jones 11:20 a.m.: Spencer Gallagher , Ben Kennedy BREAK (1 hr. 40 min) 1:10 p.m.: Ryan Blaney 1:20 p.m.: Chase Elliott 1:50 p.m.: Kevin Harvick 1:55 p.m.: Justin Allgaier , Michael Annett 2 p.m.: John Hunter Nemechek , Denny Hamlin 2:10 p.m.: Ty Dillon , Matt Kenseth , Kurt Busch 2:20 p.m.: Landon Cassill , Kasey Kahne BREAK (15 min) 2:45 p.m.: Erik Jones BREAK (10 min) 3:05 p.m.: Ryan Reed BREAK (5 min) 3:15 p.m.: Brad Keselowski
NASCAR partners with AMR for its emergency response system
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR announced today it is partnering with American Medical Response (AMR) to expand the capabilities of NASCAR's medical support model and enhance on-track incident response. AMR, a recognized leader in the emergency medical services, will add a doctor and paramedic to the on-track safety team for each Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekend. NASCAR's industry-leading medical standards remain in place; Infield Care Centers will continue to be staffed with experienced local emergency room physicians, maintaining the valuable connection with local medical facilities at every track. Combining the experience of local emergency practitioners with the familiarity that the AMR team will develop with drivers will positively impact the process for years to come. "This partnership further strengthens NASCAR's medical response capability, making our well-established, medical response system even better," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. "AMR is a leader in the emergency services sector, and its doctors and paramedics add another layer of expertise to the immediate response team." AMR will position state licensed doctors and paramedics in a chase vehicle along with two NASCAR Track Services team members and immediately respond to an on-track incident. The paramedic and doctor will provide an assessment at the scene. "We're excited about this partnership with NASCAR," said Edward Van Horne, president and chief executive officer, AMR. "We're going to work collaboratively with NASCAR and local teams to share best EMS practices and ensure the highest quality of care." AMR, which currently delivers EMS support at a number of NASCAR events, will provide a physician to serve as the national medical director of the AMR Safety Team to oversee all services provided by AMR and work with the NASCAR Medical Liaisons and NASCAR Consulting Physicians. AMR, a subsidiary of Envision Healthcare, is the largest provider of emergency medical transportation services in the U.S . and a leader in pre-hospital care and treatment. Furthermore, AMR becomes the Official Emergency Medical Services Partner of NASCAR, and AMR will be the presenting partner of the annual NASCAR (Track Services) Summit.
NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing season begins Feb. 28
The world's top online racers will take the green flag when the seventh NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Powered by iRacing.com gets underway Feb. 28 at 9 p.m. ET. Driving race simulators from the comfort of their homes, a full field of elite iRacers will wheel their virtual Chevrolet SS, Ford Fusions and Toyota Camrys around a laser-scanned model of the Daytona International Speedway in the first of 16 events in NASCAR's official eSport series. At stake is $25,000 in cash and prizes together with a NASCAR champions ring and trophy to be awarded during the NASCAR Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November. Following the Daytona race, competitors will race at digitized versions of many of the tracks on the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on alternate Tuesdays, with flag-to-flag coverage broadcast on iRacing Live. The series champion will be determined by a playoff system based on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, with the top four finalists battling in the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series finale on the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway this fall. By any measure, defending champion Ray Alfalla figures to be the man to beat. A USPS mail carrier from Cape Coral, Florida, Alfalla edged New Hampshire-based PJ Stergios for the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series championship last season, and captured his third title in six years. While he has never finished lower than second in the season standings, Alfalla faces new challenges this season ranging from the new Chase format to new aerodynamic rules similar to those Jimmie Johnson , Joey Logano , Kyle Busch and friends will be dealing with in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series . "One of the keys this year is adapting to the reduction in downforce for 2017, just like in the real world," Alfalla said. "We'll also have a playoff for the first time, so the dynamic of each race will change, and the final race at Homestead will be nuts. Last year it was me and PJ neck-and-neck for the championship; this year there will be twice as many of us going for the title. I'm pretty excited about it!" In addition to veterans like Stergios and former champions Kenny Humpe and Michael Conti, Alfalla will have to deal with a promising crop of newcomers that includes Darik Bourdeau, of Montreal, Canada. While anything short of another title for the series veterans will rank as something of a disappointment, Bourdeau has a different outlook. "My goal is to get some solid runs and finish races in the top 10 and five," he said. "If you can stay out of trouble and pull out some solid finishes you will more than likely make The Chase. Then, it's 'win and you're in' the finale, when anything can happen." Last year's schedule produced nine winners in 16 races, while more two dozen sim racers scored at least one top-five finish. It's the kind of "anything can happen" competition that prompted PEAK Antifreeze to renew its title sponsorship of the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series through the 2019 season. "The NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series consistently produces some of the most exciting racing action you'll find, whether you're talking real or virtual racing," said PEAK CMO Bryan Emrich. "The great racing and the overall professionalism of the series are a perfect fit for PEAK. That's why we're excited to be associated with this series." The 2017 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series gets underway Tuesday, Feb. 28. Catch all the excitement on iRacingLive starting at 9 p.m. ET.
Dale Jr. jumps back into familiar surroundings with plenty of speed
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! " RELATED: Junior through the years DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr . didn't take any credit for his qualifying effort Sunday, a 192.864 mph lap that put his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet on the front row for next week's season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway . "Ain't much to it," Earnhardt quipped. "The car does all the work." Earnhardt, twice a winner of the "Great American Race," won't be on the pole, but he'll start alongside Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott , giving the team a front-row sweep for the second time in the last three years. His previous wins in the 500 came from third (in 2004) and ninth ('14). Earnhardt is regarded as one of the best at restrictor-plate racing but qualifying is a solo effort. There are no other cars off which to pick up a push or gain an advantage. It's all about horsepower. But there's a bit of technique required as well. "The transitions are kind of important as far as feeding the car into the corner and also running as tight as you can on the apron without bouncing the skirt off the apron or giving up any speed, or just time adding feet to your lap by running high, at least a little bit, can make a big difference," he said. "But other than that, the driver, I don't think he's feeling like he's in control of too much. The car is doing most of the work." Sidelined for the last half of the 2016 season after suffering concussion-like symptoms, Earnhardt is eager to be back behind the wheel. He chose not to compete in Sunday's Advance Auto Parts Clash, instead allowing Alex Bowman to field his entry. Bowman had won the pole at Phoenix driving in relief of Earnhardt last fall, a distinction that Earnhardt said earned the driver the opportunity. But after spending "The Clash" working as an analyst in the booth for Fox Sports, Earnhardt traded in his suit and tie for a firesuit, and eased his way back into more familiar surroundings. He was second-fastest in the opening round of qualifying; Elliott ended the session atop the board. In the final round, the No. 88 went to the top of the board with only one driver, Elliott, remaining. "I certainly would have loved to have gotten a pole, but my boss man is happy," Earnhardt said of team owner Rick Hendrick. "I just talked to him on the phone and he's got to be thrilled with having his cars up front." Elliott's final-round run, a lap of 192.872 mph, gave the Dawsonville, Georgia, youngster his second consecutive Daytona 500 pole. It was the third straight No. 1 qualifying effort for his No. 24 team, which also started out front here in '15 with four-time series champion Jeff Gordon behind the wheel. "Obviously Dale is good down here, and we all knew he was going to be fast today," Elliott, 21, said. "That's no surprise. But I don't really care who it is. I'm not going to feel bad about beating somebody. "It's cool to share a front row with a teammate is really the biggest thing I look at with that. But Dale is a good guy. I'm happy to share the front row with him, but happier to beat him, obviously, but regardless of who it is, that's what you're trying to do, you know." Elliott and Earnhardt were the only two drivers to officially lock in their starting positions for next weekend's Daytona 500 (2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The remainder of the field will be determined through the Can-Am Duels, a pair of 150-lap qualifying races scheduled for Thursday evening (7 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
NASCAR industry to salute U.S . military with XFINITY Series tribute
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In a show of appreciation for the United States Armed Forces, NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers will bear the names of active military units and installations on their race car windshields during Friday's Subway Firecracker 250 Powered By Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Marine Raider Battalion and the USS New York (LPD-21) are among the military units and installations from all five branches that will replace the " XFINITY " header on NASCAR XFINITY Series cars. NASCAR: An American Salute ™ ( #NASCARSalutes ) is the industry's collective expression of reverence, respect and gratitude for those who have served and continue to defend the United States today. Last month, NASCAR together with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race teams honored 40 fallen service members with 600 Miles of Remembrance, a similar tribute during Memorial Day Weekend. RELATED: See all cars in 600 Miles of Remembrance "NASCAR's long-standing tradition of honoring the U.S . Armed Forces will never waver -- it is woven into the fabric of our sport," said Brent Dewar, chief operating officer, NASCAR. "We have a unique opportunity with the NASCAR XFINITY Series to pay tribute to the military units and bases integral to preserving our country's freedom." Several NASCAR XFINITY Series teams have personal or direct connections to the units displayed on their race cars. Driver Brendan Gaughan 's windshield will read "23RD STS," representing the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron ( U.S . Air Force) from Hurlburt Field in Fort Walton, Florida. Gaughan is one of a handful of civilians recognized as an Honorary Member of the Combat Control Association. Elliott Sadler 's windshield will be adorned with Fort Campbell to honor JR Motorsports employee Lee Langley, who served for six years at the Army base as an infantry team leader in the 101st Airborne Division. Ty Dillon and Brandon Jones both work with Hope 4 Warriors and will honor 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines and 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, respectively, from Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Justin Allgaier will honor the U.S . Air Force 469th Flight Training Squadron through a personal connection, as Allgaier is friends with Major Robert Harms, one of the pilots serving in that specific unit. The squadron operates out of Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. "I always look forward to getting a chance to pay homage those who serve our country at Daytona each year," Allgaier said. "We're thankful to Comcast for providing the space on all of our cars to support these military heroes and to NASCAR for continuing their NASCAR Salutes program. This year there's a personal tie for me as I get to display the squadron of one of my friends. We love that we're able to support our military, but a sticker or event will never be enough to truly give them all the credit they deserve for what they do." The special windshield tribute is one of several military activities planned for the Independence Day Weekend races at Daytona International Speedway , culminating with Saturday's Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola (7:45 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The race track will again host and recognize three recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award given to military service members, continuing a tradition dating back several years. The Medal of Honor recipients in attendance this weekend will include Staff Sergeant Ty Carter, Command Sergeant Major Gary Littrell and Captain Florent Groberg, each representing the U.S . Army. NASCAR together with Daytona International Speedway and race teams will host hundreds of active military and veterans, and their families, during the race weekend. Among them will be the 65th Infantry Regiment of the U.S . Army, nicknamed "The Bourinqueneers," a Puerto Rican regiment that was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in April. Several active military members present for Saturday's Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola will take part in a special moment of recognition for the U.S . Armed Forces before the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Pre-race activities will also feature a flyover of four F-16s from the 93rd Fighter Squadron from Homestead Air Reserve Base during the national anthem, which will be performed by the U.S . Army Maneuver Center of Excellence Band from Fort Benning, Georgia. The national anthem will be performed as 200 military members unfurl a giant American flag in the infield. Retired U.S . Air Force Sergeant Kelly Miller will be grand marshal for Friday's Subway Firecracker 250 Powered By Coca-Cola. A Subway franchisee, Miller served as an aeromedical service specialist, responsible for the healthcare of Air Force pilots and flight crews. Retired Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Fred Gardner, also a Subway franchisee, will serve as the honorary starter. Gardner operated the Terrier missile first control system during Mediterranean tours. Additional live coverage of the Subway Firecracker 250 Powered By Coca-Cola and Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola can be found on NASCAR.com .
NASCAR TV schedule: Feb. 20-26
Pocono to hold qualifying and race on same day
BUY TICKETS: See the action at Pocono Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series fans should be ready for a full day of action at Pocono Raceway on July 30. The track announced Monday that both qualifying for the Monster Energy Series and the Pennsylania 400 race will be held Sunday, July 30. Thus far, Pocono is the only track to announce it will have qualifying and the race on the same day for the sport's top series. On a t ypical race weekend, Monster Energy Series qualifying is held on Friday afternoon. The schedule for Saturday, July 29, will include Monster Energy Series practices paired with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series ' qualifying and the Pocono Mountains 150 . In NASCAR's first trip of the year to Pocono Raceway June 9-11, the track will operate under the standard schedule where Monster Energy Series qualifying is held on Friday with a practice as well as a NASCAR XFINITY Series practice. Saturday will see more practice time for the Monster Energy Series as well as XFINITY Series qualifying and the Pocono Green 250 race.
Daytona president, Chip Wile named on SBJ's 'Forty Under 40' list
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! MORE: Closest Daytona finishes " Daytona story lines DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Chip Wile, the youngest President of Daytona International Speedway , was recognized today as a recipient of SportsBusiness Journal's (SBJ) Forty Under 40 honor. Chosen from among an initial candidate list of more than 500, Wile will receive the award on April 20 at the Forty Under 40 Gala at the Monarch Beach Resort in Dana Point, California. Forty Under 40 recognizes excellence and innovation among young sports executives nationwide. MORE: Wile appointed Daytona track president " Wile accepts award "This is an incredible honor," Wile said. "I have been so blessed in my career thus far being surrounded by talented professionals who share the same passion and admiration for motorsports. As president of Daytona International Speedway , I am fortunate to work with a remarkable team both at the Speedway and ISC who have a passion and dedication for creating unparalleled experiences for our guests. It's their hard work that makes the World's Only Motorsports Stadium the most fan-friendly, hands-on experience in all of sports." Wile will embark on his first Speedweeks and Daytona 500 as President of Daytona International Speedway beginning February 18, but he led the first major motorsports event of the season and North America's most prestigious sports car race when the Rolex 24 At Daytona kicked off Jan. 28. MORE: Daytona through the years " Rolex 24 history "I have said this all along about Chip -- he brings a wealth of talent and energy to the track president position," said ISC CEO Lesa France Kennedy. "His leadership style is always to place others first -- whether his team or his community, but in all cases, the fans. I couldn't be happier for him to receive this honor." Wile spent the first 10 years of his career working with NASCAR race teams, then joined Motor Racing Network (MRN) as director of business development and just one year later, was appointed President of Darlington Raceway where he spearheaded a five-year strategy to reinvent the facility with its throwback thematic. MORE: ' 16 Darlington schemes " Darlington announces '17 throwback theme Tickets for the 2017 Daytona 500 and Speedweeks can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can also follow NASCAR on Twitter and stay up to speed on the latest news by using #DAYTONA500 and #SPEEDWEEKS. Stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Snapchat, and by downloading the Speedway's mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Hamlin, Keselowski clash at Daytona's opening weekend
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! MORE: Hamlin wears special pair of Jordans for 'The Clash' DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Brad Keselowski checked over the damage to his No. 2 Ford's right-front fender, the result of a last-lap crunch in a tense contest for the lead with Denny Hamlin 's No. 11 Toyota in the Advance Auto Parts Clash. The contact cost Keselowski a victory in a season-opening exhibition that -- despite his superspeedway acumen -- he's now 0-for-5 in. But after conferring with crew chief Paul Wolfe and expressing his dismay, he had no regrets in choosing to keep his foot on the gas -- and serving notice that in similar circumstances, he'd do it again. "It's unfortunate. I had to make the move," Keselowski said after Sunday's matinee at Daytona International Speedway . "I know all the other drivers are back watching and they know not to make that block on me again." The final-lap collision that scuttled the chances of two of the best restrictor-plate racers in the sport allowed Keselowski's Team Penske stablemate Joey Logano to scoot to a victory in a race delayed a day by persistent Saturday night rain. Neither Keselowski nor Hamlin seemed especially peeved by their own (lower-case) clash, the last of four incidents in the unofficial opener to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. Both drivers started on the front row by virtue of a Friday draw. By the time the white flag flew, they were 1-2 again after combining to lead all but nine of the 75 laps. But Keselowski had an extra level of headway in the form of Logano, who finally linked up with his teammate in the waning laps to give both drivers an aerodynamic assist. The fast-closing Keselowski dipped to the low side of the track through the first and second turns, forcing Hamlin to chop-block into his path. The two cars wedged together, with Hamlin swerving into a lazy spin off course and Keselowski limping to the checkers to finish a distant sixth. "I was in a bad spot there," said Hamlin, who took 13th place in the 17-car invitational field. "He was just coming so much faster than what I was. There's not much that I could have done to defend." If nothing else, the non-points exhibition helped take a stick to the offseason cobwebs ahead of next Sunday's Daytona 500 (Feb. 26, 2 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The revival of "The Clash" name brought back at least a nominal nod to history. The racing brought another reminder of the mercurial nature of the high-speed dance at the 2.5-mile track. "Yeah, you're definitely pulling all the strings, but that's the game," Keselowski said. "That's part of what the fun is. You have to be two moves ahead, like a chess game." &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
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