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      Alex Bowman finishes 5th in Clash, Jimmie Johnson wins to cap stellar day at Daytona for Hendrick Motorsports

      © Phil Cavali Photography

      Hours after William Byron captured the Busch Pole Award for the Daytona 500, Jimmie Johnson won the rain-shortened Advance Auto Parts Clash to sweep the day’s events. Alex Bowman, who will start the Daytona 500 in the front row alongside Byron, finished fifth in the Clash.

      Alex Bowman and the No. 88 Nationwide team were set to start fifth in the 75-lap event at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday afternoon. Starting spots for the Clash event were chosen at random on Saturday evening. At the start of the race, Bowman got shuffled back into the sixth position and was running the top lane. Just three laps later, Bowman had advanced three positions and was still running the high line. It was clear from the start that the top was the preferred line.

      The first caution flag of the afternoon was shown on Lap 7 for rain. This caution turned into a red flag and the Nationwide machine was brought down pit road. After track drying was completed, the field began getting back into their respective cars. The Nationwide Camaro ZL1 began rolling off pit road on Lap 10 and when the green flag dropped there was 13 laps remaining until the competition caution. Once the caution flag was displayed on Lap 25, Bowman relayed to the team that his car didn’t side draft very well. Crew chief Greg Ives elected to bring the No. 88 machine to pit road under caution for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. Bowman restarted 16th when the field took the green.

      On Lap 36, Bowman was running single file in the 17th position. Just after the halfway mark in the event, rain was once again a presence at the track. As the rain began to get heavier, the red flag was shown once again. Drivers remained in their vehicles on pit road as the drying process began. Once the track was deemed ready, engines fired. With 20 laps remaining, the field went green.

      A multi-car wreck happened on Lap 55 at the front of the field and Bowman escaped it with little damage. Under the yellow, Bowman relayed to Ives that he thought the Nationwide team should remain on track. The team knew that rain was, again, in the area and they could salvage a decent finish if they remained on track. Once the rain returned, NASCAR deemed the race official and Bowman finished in the fifth position.

      Alex Bowman:“We were running almost last and just got through the crash okay. It is a really frustrating day. We kind of lucked our way into the top groove up there, we could be okay, but just didn’t have any speed. The car drove really good, probably drove too good.”

      Via Hendrick Motorsports