Clash at Daytona Offers Sneak Peek of Brewing Toyota-Ford Rivalry
The Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona was won by Joey Logano in a thrilling finish, but something else was the biggest takeaway from the 75 lap shootout.
Those 'Yotas and Fords are fast.
With the laps winding down, the JGR four-car fleet led the field single file. Last year's Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin paced rookie Daniel Suárez, Matt Kenseth, and Kyle Busch. The Penske Fords of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski were shuffled to the back after pit stop strategy following the end of the first segment.
But with the help of Ford newcomer Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing switched from Chevrolet to Ford for 2017), the Toyota bunch was broken up with a few laps to go. Coming to the white flag, Brad and Joey were hooked up. In Turns 1 and 2, Keselowski made a move to the inside of leader Denny Hamlin, but the 11 car came down on him.
Joey Logano went wide to avoid the two sliding cars, along with Kyle Busch, and went on to grab the checkers. Kyle Busch edged out Alex Bowman for second, with Danica Patrick lucking into a fourth place finish.
Sure, the race was purely an exhibition and garnered no points. But it did give us all a peek into what each manufacturer has for the 2017 season, at least on the superspeedways.
Whenever Keselowski or Hamlin could get out front, they were virtually impossible to pass. It took a monstrous effort from a group of drivers to get even with the leader. That points to good things for Hamlin, Keselowski, and company for the rest of Speedweeks.
Last year, Hamlin dominated and won the 500, while Keseolowski won the July Daytona race and spring Talladega race by virtue of keeping his car in front of the field. Logano won the fall 'Dega race in similar fashion.
The 2017 season promises to be no different. Both Toyota and Ford brought their horsepower and certified themselves as strong contenders. Toyota did seem to have an edge when working together, but with fresh tires, the Penske duo and Kevin Harvick had no trouble catching Hamlin and the boys.
Chevrolet will have lots of catching up to do, as most of their drivers ran in the back. Jimmie Johnson's car got sideways, taking out the Ford of Kurt Busch. Then, later in the race, Johnson spun and hit the inside wall, forcing him to retire. Hendrick teammate Chase Elliott looked very loose during much of the race. The other Chevrolets, CGR's Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon, and Chris Buescher never really looked to challenge the leaders.
This may just be a superspeedway factor, but it will surely be interesting and entertaining to watch the Toyotas and Fords battle it out as Chevy tries to play catch up.