Photo: Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Brings Back “The Clash” to Kick-Off 2017 Season

By David Morgan, NASCAR Contributor

The season-opening exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway, which has had various name changes and format changes over the years, having recently been known as the Sprint Unlimited, will have a new name and format for the 2017 running of the event that is reminiscent of the early years of the race.

On Wednesday, Daytona announced that the race, which began its life in 1979 as the Busch Clash, will be known as “The Clash” for next season. The race held the Busch Clash moniker until 1998, when it was renamed as the Bud Shootout, a name that held until 2013 and it was called the Sprint Unlimited through the 2016 season.

“We’re bringing back The Clash at Daytona. The Clash was a race name that has always been popular among both the 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,” said Chip Wile, Daytona International Speedway president.

With the new name, the race will retain the same format with the 75 lap event being split into two segments. The first segment will run 25 laps and the second will be comprised of the final 50 laps. While the format will remain the same, the eligibility requirements have changed for the race for next season.

No longer will there be a predetermined number of cars in the race. Instead, the field will include 2016 Pole Award winners, former Clash race winners, former Daytona 500 pole winners who competed full-time in 2016, and drivers who qualified for the 2016 Chase.

Eligible Drivers

2016 Pole Awards winners (14)

  • Greg Biffle, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Carl Edwards, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr.

Former Clash Race Winners (2)

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart

Former DAYTONA 500 Pole Award winners (1)

  • Danica Patrick

2016 Chase drivers (3)

  • Chris Buescher, Kyle Larson, Jamie McMurray

“What better way to kick off the 2017 season than the sport’s brightest stars under the lights at Daytona International Speedway. 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,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer.

The Clash at Daytona will be held on Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 8:00 pm ET and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1, Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.

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