Now that the Super Bowl is behind us, it’s officially race week in the NASCAR land. On Saturday, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series stars hit the high banks of Daytona for Daytona 500 qualifying practice. Also though, 20 of the drivers will take part in Clash practice as Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona (3 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be the opening race of the year.
While the 75 Lap event is treated like an All-Star race, it’s still nice to see cars on the race track in race conditions.
It begins at noon on Sunday with Busch Pole Award Qualifying for the 61st running of the DAYTONA 500 (12 p.m. ET/FOX, MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
How The Clash Will Be Run The format of this race has changed 14 times since its inception in 1979. This year’s annual preseason race will run in two segments, separated by a competition caution at Lap 25.
Who’s Eligible To Race The exclusive, star-studded field in the Advance Auto Parts Clash is limited to drivers who were 2018 Busch Pole Award winners, former Clash winners who competed full-time in 2018, former DAYTONA 500 champions who competed full-time in 2018, former DAYTONA 500 pole winners who competed full-time in 2018 and drivers who qualified for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.Eligible drivers are as follows:
2018 Busch Pole Award Winners (13) • Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Daniel Suarez and Martin Truex Jr.
Former Daytona 500 Champions (2) • Jamie McMurray, Ryan NewmanFormer Daytona 500 Busch Pole Award Winners (2) • Austin Dillon, Jimmie Johnson
2018 Playoff Drivers (3) • Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski
All Time Winners
6 Dale Earnhardt 1980 1986 1988 1991 1993 1995 3 Dale Jarrett 1996 2000 2004 3 Tony Stewart 2001 2002 2007 3 Kevin Harvick 2009 2010 2013 3 Denny Hamlin 2006 2014 2016 2 Neil Bonnett 1983 1984 2 Ken Schrader 1989 1990 2 Jeff Gordon 1994 1997 2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2003 2008 1 Buddy Baker 1979 1 Darrell Waltrip 1981 1 Bobby Allison 1982 1 Terry Labonte 1985 1 Bill Elliott 1987 1 Geoffrey Bodine 1992 1 Rusty Wallace 1998 1 Mark Martin 1999 1 Jimmie Johnson 2005 1 Kurt Busch 2011 1 Kyle Busch 2012 1 Matt Kenseth 2015 1 Joey Logano 2017 1 Brad Keselowski 2018
Starting Position Doesn’t Matter
That’s obvious for restrictor plate races, but for the Clash too, starting up front hasn’t gone well lately. While there’s no qualifying to set the field in fact, with positions being drawn, three of the last four winners of this race have come from a starting spot of 15th or worse.
In fact, just once in the last six years has the winning driver came from the top four rows (Denny Hamlin in 2014 was on the pole). Really, unless you’re starting on the front row, you may want to draw a position out outside of the top 14.
Since 2003, we’ve had three winners come from the top five, both on the front row (Hamlin -2014, Kyle Busch 2012, Kevin Harvick 2010). Other than that, 11 of the last 16 Clashes have seen the winner come from 14th or worse. Throw in the three on the front row and that’s 14-for-16.
Eight of the first 12 Clashes saw the winner come from the top five, six of which from the top three.
The average starting spot for the race winner now is 9.9. The average starting spot for the runner up? 9.775.
Penske And JGR Show
Over the last five Clashes, no one has reached victory lane outside of the Team Penske or Joe Gibbs Racing camps. Penske has won two years in-a-row with Joey Logano being victorious in 2017 and Brad Keselowski last year. JGR won with Denny Hamlin in 2014 and 2016 and Matt Kenseth in 2015. Can Penske go three in-a-row? Can JGR earn their fourth win in six years?
Hamlin and Keselowski Looking To Rise Up Record Books
No one has been better in this race lately than Hamlin. He’s finished in the top six in three of his last five starts. In fact, Hamlin is only eight laps away from passing Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the all time laps led chart for the Clash. He’s led 142 circuits around the high banked 2.5-mile track in 13 career starts in this race. The next best on the active list is Brad Keselowski with 97. He’s two laps away from passing Dale Earnhardt and 12 from getting by Jeff Gordon.
Hamlin, has led at least 27 laps in three of the last five Clashes including leading 39 laps in 2016 and 48 in 2017.
Keselowski, has led at least one lap in each of his last five starts. He led 43 laps in his win a year ago.
Not Johnson’s Best Race
The Clash has not been kind of Johnson lately. After having seven top 10 finishes in his first nine tries, including a win in 2005 and five top fives from 2005 through 2011, he’s crashed out in six of the last seven races since.
Johnson’s last seven finishes in this race are 14th, 14th, 17th, 22nd, 22nd, 16th and 12th respectively. He hasn’t led since 2012, a race he led just one lap in and in fact has led just 10 total laps in this race since 2007.
Don’t Expect Clash Winner To Win Daytona 500 Or Other Daytona Events
Only six times in the 38-year history of the race has the winner gone on to win the Daytona 500. It’s only happened once in the last 20 years too. Bobby Allison (1982) Bill Elliott (1987) Dale Jarrett (1996 and 2000) Jeff Gordon (1997) Denny Hamlin (2016)
Two drivers have swept the Clash at Daytona, Daytona 500 pole and Daytona 500 from 1979 on. Dale Jarrett (2000) and Bill Elliott (1987)
One driver has swept the Clash at Daytona, Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero 400 in the same year – Bobby Allison (1982).
Seven drivers have won the Clash at Daytona (1979-2018) and the championship in the same season. Dale Earnhardt is the only one to have accomplished it multiple times (four).
Tony Stewart (2002) Jeff Gordon (1997) Dale Earnhardt (1993, 1991, 1986 and 1980) Darrell Waltrip (1981)