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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Jimmie Johnson, bottom center, goes low to avoid a multi-car crash involving several drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday in Daytona Beach, Fla. 

Sunday, July 08, 2018 1:00 am

Jones earns first win in crash-filled race

Associated Press

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Erik Jones has won a crash-filled NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night, passing defending series champion Martin Truex Jr. on the final lap and then crossing the finish line for the first victory of his Cup Series career.

Jones was involved in one of the many wrecks, but his No. 20 Toyota was still in good enough shape to get by Truex.

Truex finished second, followed by AJ Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne and Chris Buescher. It was another odd top 10 at Daytona. Ty Dillon was sixth, followed by Matt DiBenedetto and Daytona 500 champion Austin Dillon.

Chevrolet extended its winless streak to 18 races, its longest since a 31-race drought in 1981-82.

Last year's race winner, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., had the most memorable run. He started two early accidents that wrecked more than half the field and was part of two more cautions late.

Stenhouse triggered two wrecks that collected more than half the field and knocked out former Cup series champions, Daytona 500 champs and a slew of perennial race contenders.

At the halfway point Saturday night, the rest of the field could only hope he stayed in front and out of the way until the final laps.

“It's been crazy partly due to a few of my issues,” Stenhouse said over the radio on NBC.

Yeah, just a couple.

Stenhouse, who broke up in the offseason with retired driver Danica Patrick, started the melee when he tapped and turned Brad Keselowski, who was running third. Keselowski's No. 2 Ford slammed into the side of Kyle Busch, and more than a dozen cars were unable to slow down.

Keselowski said it actually started with a “bad block” by William Byron, who cut in front of Keselowski and prompted him to lift off the gas.

“The 2 got wrecked and so did everyone else,” Hamlin said. “It usually happens much later in the night.”

Added Joey Logano: “When one car sits sideways in front of the field at 200 mph, you can't get through it.”

Pole-sitter Chase Elliott, Keselowski and Kurt Busch, and former Daytona 500 winners Denny Hamlin and Logano were also involved in a 25-car crash.

Stenhouse was just getting warmed up in his No. 17 Ford. He wiped out two more contenders a few laps later.