A lot can happen during Speed Weeks. Faster than you can turn a lap at Martinsville, you can go from hero to zero. What we’re saying is this isn’t quite a sign of things to come, but Team Penske made quite a statement in The Clash.
Brad Keselowski shook loose of some demons to take the checkered flag. He lamented having “choked away” earlier shots at Daytona glory. Such was not the case Sunday. Packed with Penske power, Keselowski took a car that was apparently in danger of overheating, and led teammate Joey Logano to the finish line. Team Penske newbie Ryan Blaney finished fourth.
In fact, Ford was quite well-represented towards the front of the field. Kurt Busch from Stewart-Haas Racing took third to join Team Penske in the top five. The only non-Ford was the Chevy driven by Austin Dillon that took fifth place.
Speaking of Blaney, he may have been the one Team Penske driver disappointed with his day. The former Wood Bros. young gun made a passing attempt on the final lap that never materialized. Instead of challenging his teammates for a win, he got stuck and found himself settling for a top five. There’ll be better days ahead for the 12.
Of course, a successful Clash is hardly a harbinger. Considering all the practice and the Duels that follow, there’s plenty of opportunity for teams to tweak at a track where so many variables beyond one’s control come into play. For all we know, Team Penske may find themselves chasing the Toyotas who have complained of handling issues this far.
There may be many events at Daytona during Speed Weeks, but each one is an element unto itself, with all the time spent here. You can be a stinker in the Clash and a stud in the 500 if you can adjust quickly enough. It’s happened more than once.