The first official “race” of the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series begins with the Advanced Auto Parts Clash at Daytona. This is the 39th running of the Clash.
17 drivers are scheduled to compete with new names like Alex Bowman and Daniel Suarez.
Drivers who are eligible to compete in the Clash are 2016 MENCS Pole winners, former winners of the Clash, former Daytona 500 pole winners, and 2016 Playoff drivers.
Suarez was able to participate in the Clash due to the sudden departure of Carl Edwards. NASCAR will allow Suarez to participate because Joe Gibbs Racing has already being in advanced stages of preparing the car and having sponsorship.
Bowman will drive the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet because Dale Earnhardt Jr. determined that Bowman should have the opportunity because he won the pole at Phoenix late last season.
The Advanced Auto Parts Clash will be a 75-lap feature with competition caution at lap-25 to separate the segments.
Bowman, Chris Buescher, and Suarez will be making their “Clash” debuts.
“The biggest thing for me racing in the Clash this weekend is going to be just getting the feel of the car and learning my crew chief,” Buescher said. “This is a big race, not in points, but because it’s the first time the No. 37 team is all going to be on track together. That’s the one learning curve we haven’t been able to test yet, but I’m really looking forward to getting back in the racecar and using The Clash as a learning tool for the Daytona 500,” said Buescher.
“It’s going to be really nice to be able to get back to the grind and have Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) behind the wheel for us again. It’s almost kind of like getting a rookie back, somebody who’s really intense and really wanting to just get back behind the wheel. I know that’s re-energized and rejuvenated a lot of the guys on the team -- especially myself,” said Bowman.
Qualifying for the Clash will be based on a random draw. There will be two practice sessions for the race on February 17th at 5:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1.