The newly minted NASCAR Cup Series, sans title sponsor, will see its first action of the year with 18 drivers vying for the title of Busch Clash champion.
For fans of stock car racing, the offseason was way too long. For drivers, there is always the anticipation of Daytona Speedweeks all winter long. Who can complain about going to Florida in February?
That anticipation becomes a reality on Sunday, well, at least for 18 drivers.
The opening race of the 2020 season kicks off at 3:00 p.m. (TV: Fox Sports 1/Fox Sports app) with the Busch Clash, a non-points competition that some refer to as “checkers or wreckers.” It’s an all-out war to see who can get to the finish line first. Nothing else matters because no one will remember those who finished behind the victor.
The Busch Clash is a two-segment battle of wits and will (and hopefully a clean car at the end) starting with 25 laps followed by 50 more for a total of 187.5-miles. There is a mix of young and those long in the tooth (by NASCAR standards) when the green flag drops. Unlike the Daytona 500, where you try to avoid “the big one,” the 18-car field is more like, “just don’t hit anyone or anything.”
Here are the drivers for the 2020 Busch Clash and how they qualified for the race, according to NASCAR. Twenty drivers were eligible, but 18 will take the green flag. Daniel Suarez recently signed with a new team and is concentrating on the 500. Daniel Hemric will be racing in the Xfinity Series.
Aric Almirola (2019 Busch Pole Award)
Ryan Blaney (2019 Busch Pole Award)
Alex Bowman (former Daytona 500 pole winner)
Clint Bowyer (2019 Busch Pole Award)
Kyle Busch (2019 Busch Pole Award)
Kurt Busch (former Clash winner)
William Byron (2019 Busch Pole Award)
Austin Dillon (2019 Busch Pole Award)
Chase Elliott (2019 Busch Pole Award)
Denny Hamlin (2019 Busch Pole Award)
Kevin Harvick (2019 Busch Pole Award)
Daniel Hemric (2019 Busch Pole Award) *Will not race
Jimmie Johnson (2019 Busch Pole Award)
Erik Jones (2019 Cup Series playoff driver)
Brad Keselowski (2019 Busch Pole Award)
Kyle Larson (2019 Busch Pole Award)
Joey Logano (2019 Busch Pole Award)
Ryan Newman (former Daytona 500 winner)
Daniel Suarez (2019 Busch Pole Award) *Will not race
Martin Truex Jr. (former Daytona 500 pole winner)
Mother Nature is on the side of drivers on Sunday with a high of 70. A quick warmup from lows in the 50s, the World Center of Racing should be clean and green for the afternoon festivities.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
At 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, there will be a random drawing at the Daytona Fan Zone to determine starting positions.
Location: Daytona Beach, FL
Statistics: 2.5-mile tri-oval
Kyle Busch (and not because the race name is the same as his)
The Busch Clash is one of the hardest races to predict. You can throw experience out the passenger window as luck can play as big a part in who wins as much as ability. Seven drivers have combined for 12 trips to the winner’s circle, so it’s not like they don’t know how to get there. All that said, Busch is arguably the best and most talented driver in the field, and he is coming off his second Cup championship. Look for him to take home his second Clash title.
Let’s face it; he needs to get off to a great start. 2020 will be his final full-time season and a good showing at Daytona, both in the Clash and 500, could be a harbinger of what is to come.
MORE ON THE CLASH:
Will Ford crash the Busch Clash with a win at Daytona?
You can follow Ted Fleming on Twitter @TedFleming13