By David Morgan, Associate Editor
The opening salvo of the 2021 NASCAR season just underwent a major shakeup with Daytona International Speedway announcing a shortened race week schedule starting next season.
Traditionally, the Busch Clash and Daytona 500 qualifying have been held on the weekend prior to the Great American Race, but next year, everything is getting compressed into a six-day window from Tuesday, February 9 to Sunday, February 14.
The Busch Clash will be run on Tuesday night, but won’t be held on Daytona’s 2.5-mile oval. Instead, the exhibition race will move to the track’s 3.56-mile infield road course, which hosts the Rolex 24 hour race each January.
“The famed road course at Daytona has a long and storied history with sports cars and motorcycles, and now we can write a new chapter on it with stock cars,” NASCAR Vice President of Racing Development Ben Kennedy said. “Fans coming to the track will get to see six consecutive days of exciting NASCAR action, with no two days being the same.”
“Having driven on the road course at Daytona in the Rolex 24, I know how difficult the circuit can be,” added NASCAR Hall of Famer and current FOX NASCAR analyst Jeff Gordon. “It will present a real challenge to the drivers and teams, and I’m looking forward to calling what I believe will be a lot of action from the booth.”
From there, Daytona 500 pole qualifying will be held Wednesday, with the remainder of the week staying virtually the same.
The Duels at Daytona will run Thursday night, followed by the Truck Series on Friday night, an ARCA/Xfinity Series doubleheader on Saturday, and the 63rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday.
“NASCAR fans have asked for more road-course competition and the industry is listening,” Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said. “With the talent level the Busch Clash brings to the table, the race will now clearly have its own look and feel during DAYTONA Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth in 2021 and beyond.
“The new placement on the Speedweeks schedule also adds to the anticipation. That switch will make for a fuller Speedweeks calendar. Fans also will have the opportunity to engage in a festive infield atmosphere, similar to the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, with many prime viewing opportunities.”
The schedule shakeup at Daytona may be just the beginning as NASCAR is preparing to unveil the remainder of the 2021 schedule in the coming months, with wholesale changes expected.