Daytona Beach, Fla – Normally, you don’t take much stock from The Clash at Daytona results and use them to figure out how the Daytona 500 would go. Since 2003, the season opening Clash at Daytona has been run under the lights at the Daytona International Speedway. With the Daytona 500 being run during the day, there’s not much to translate over between the two events.
But, with this year’s Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona being rained out on Saturday night and run during the day, we have to take a little more stock in this year’s race. That’s why Jimmie Johnson’s struggles on Sunday should be an alarming issue for Hendrick Motorsports as a whole moving forward through Speedweeks.
In last year’s Daytona 500, both Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. crashed exiting Turn 4 with very similar incidents. Then, it happened again at Talladega too. For some reason, the Hendrick cars struggled exiting Turns 2 and 4 which caused them to uncharastically struggle on plate tracks.
That’s why with Johnson spinning on Lap 16 and taking out Kurt Busch then, and then spinning again on Lap 48 and taking himself out with getting into the inside SAFER barrier at that moment, should be worrisome for Hendrick.
It’s daytime again and Johnson lost control twice exiting Turn 4. Same thing from a year ago. Translation? Nothing has changed.
“It’s strange because I usually make a living out of my control of a loose race car,” the seven-time Cup champion Johnson said after his crash. “From that point on (the crash with Busch) my car was loose in that spot of the track.”
For the sixth straight year, Johnson crashed out of the Clash as he finished 16th on Sunday. The other Hendrick drivers have taken notice.