Jimmie Johnson Starts 2019 with Exhibition Win at Advance Auto Parts Clash

Silvia Morton
February 14, 2019

This year's Clash boasted a 20-driver field, with the previous season's pole winners joined by past Clash winners, past Daytona 500 winners and polesitters, and the playoff drivers from the previous season.

"Becki and I could not be prouder of William's successes, and we are excited to watch the No. 24 in action in the Daytona 500 next weekend", said Liberty President Jerry Falwell. "This is the deal to sit on the pole at Daytona".

"A lot of you people were here back in the (No.) 24 days, in its youth and to be a part of that and be able to come back as crew chief of the 24 vehicle and qualify first for the Daytona 500 is just an awesome dream for me", Knaus said after claiming Chevrolet's 700 pole in NASCAR's premier series.

A heavy rain shower moved into the Daytona Beach area minutes later, leading NASCAR officials to call the event after 59 of its scheduled 75 laps.

Byron and Bowman edged the other two Hendrick drivers: seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson and fan favorite Elliott, who were third and fourth, respectively, with Daniel Hemric fifth. Johnson and Knaus split after a winless 2018 season.

"And then internally, we've only talked about winning races".

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"I'm not really sure, I have to see a replay". Just as Knaus used qualifying to prove he's motivated in his new role, Johnson used the Clash to prove he's got a lot of fight left in him. "I can't put it into words", Harrison Burton said. "I made a move and got to the inside and was side drafting him, and his auto started wobbling. They were our teammates, but I think we showed that we've got plenty of speed, which will help us in the 500".

The coveted starting spot hasn't meant much for NASCAR's season opener over the last two decades, though.

"We still need a points race win to say we're back in victory lane", Johnson said. Both Menard and Johnson slightly drifted toward each other, resulting in contact and initiating the "Big One".

"This group of Ally team members...have been working so hard and we're off to a good start", Johnson said. The final tally included three victories for Elliott and no drivers in the championship-deciding finale for the second consecutive year.

"Feels good" to be back in Victory Lane for the first time since 2017, the Hendrick Motorsports driver said.

Having won at least one race since his debut in 2002, it was an unfamiliar feeling to be shut out in 2018. It is also the first time a team has swept the first four positions in Daytona 500 qualifying. "I felt like from previous year, it was one of the longest that I ran. I can't believe it".

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