NASCAR Cup: Clash name returns at Daytona International Speedway
2016 Sprint Unlimited race field at Daytona International Speedway (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)
By AMANDA VINCENT
On Wednesday, NASCAR unveiled the format, qualifying criteria and new retro name for its February exhibition race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, formerly known as the Budweiser Unlimited and the Sprint Unlimited, scheduled for Feb. 18.
The 2017 edition of the race will be called The Clash at Daytona, a name reminiscent of its early years, as it was formerly called the Busch Clash when it was sponsored by Busch Beer.
“We’re bringing back The Clash at Daytona,” Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said. “The Clash was a race name that has always been popular among both he competitors and race fans. We’re looking forward to bringing it back and building on the rich history of this thrilling and always unpredictable event that kicks off the NASCAR season.”
The 2017 race will be open to drivers who won poles in 2016 Sprint Cup Series points-paying races, drivers who are previous winners of the event, former Daytona 500 pole winners who competed full-time at the Cup level in 2016 and 2016 Chase for the Sprint Cup competitors.
By that criteria, the following drivers are eligible: Greg Biffle, Alex Bowman, Chris Buescher, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Danica Patrick, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr.
“What better way to kick off the 2017 season than the sport’s brightest stars under the lights at Daytona International Speedway,” NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said. “Coming off a thrilling season-finale at Homestead-Miami, we’re looking forward to continuing that momentum into Daytona. With bragging rights and no points on the line, the Clash will set the tone for what should be a season full of great racing and tough competition.”
Stewart is not expected to compete in the event, as he retired from Sprint Cup competition as a driver at the conclusion of the 2016 season. Also worth noting — neither Alex Bowman nor Greg Biffle have rides for next season, at this point in time.
The 2017 installment of The Clash at Daytona will be a 75-lap race, separated by two segments — a 25-lap segment and a 50-lap segment. There will be a competition caution between the two segments.
The 2017 Clash is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Feb. 18 and will be shown live on FOX Sports 1.