The 61st edition of the Daytona 500 will be remembered for the crazy number of wrecks in the last 20 laps of the race.
Paul Menard dumping Matt DiBenedetto and collecting 20 cars. Or Rick Ware Racing wrecking coming to pit road and sending Tyler Reddick flying into Jimmie Johnson. Or Kyle Larson and Stenhouse. The list feels like it is endless.
While all of those wrecks and especially the last 20 laps were crazy, that’s Daytona. It’s almost predictable that will happen. The tameness everyone saw in The Clash and Duels could only last for so long before the craziness ensued.
The craziest thing however didn’t involve smashing any race cars together in a multi-million dollar heap of twisted metal. It was this:
Joe Gibbs Racing & Hendrick Motorsports Formed An Alliance.
Yeah you read that right. Before the race there were rumblings that two teams had forged an alliance over night. Two teams that no one would expect to work together. As the race progressed through the first stage it became very evident who those teams were.
The Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets and the Joe Gibbs Racing Camrys teamed up to take down the Ford brigade.
And it worked.
Matt DiBenedetto in a JGR affiliate car led a race high 49 laps. William Byron in his famed #24 led 44 laps. Kyle Busch clocked in with 37 laps led and race winner Denny Hamlin with 30. They led those 160 laps with a combination of Camaros and Camrys behind them. Fords led 40 laps but they generally came during pit stop sequences.
Ford as a manufacturer has their teams work incredibly close and well together on super speedways. Chevy tried it this year but the RCR group of cars and the HMS group never seemed to gel. Toyota only having 5 teams on track meant they were going to need some help if they wanted to tackle the Fords. Hendrick Motorsports made perfect sense.
Even Denny Hamlin was surprised by the newly formed alliance. On a restart he was told the #24 would let him down on the bottom. His response: “Are JGR and Hendrick working together?” To which is spotter reaffirmed the #24 would let him down.
It’s a crazy thing to see the #1 team for two manufacturers team up to take down another manufacturer but it worked. Will this alliance carry over to Talladega? That all depends on how the new tapered spacer package works. For now, though this remains one of the craziest storylines to come out of
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