The Setup – Busch Clash Race Preview
By Tyler Miller

Welcome back to NASCAR! The Busch Clash is the first race of the 2020 NASCAR season. The Clash is an exhibition race made up of last year’s playoff drivers, and any other drivers who have: Won the Daytona 500, won a pole position for the Daytona 500, won a Busch Clash, or won a pole position for any race last year. This criteria gives us 20 eligible drivers but Daniel Hemric and Daniel Suarez will not be participating which leaves 18 entries (in order of car number): Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman, Chase Elliott, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Joey Logano, William Byron, Kyle Larson, Jimmie Johnson, and Alex Bowman.

Race Distance: 75 laps (187.5 miles) Stage 1 is 25 laps, Stage 2 is 50 laps.
Lineup Lock 3:00 pm eastern Sunday
2019 winner: Jimmie Johnson (started 13th)
2019 pole sitter: Paul Menard (finished 13th)
Past Winners: (starting position)
2018: Brad Keselowski. (17th)
2017: Joey Logano (9th)
2016: Denny Hamlin (15th)
2015: Matt Kenseth (15th)

What to watch for in practice/qualifying:

No qualifying: Drivers will choose starting positions by basically picking a number out of a hat Saturday night. Despite the fact that cars start in a random order the pole sitter has led laps in 5 of the last 6 races and in 2 of those 5 races the pole sitter has led the most laps.

One practice: There is only one practice for the Busch Clash. Teams will practice Saturday morning before parking the Clash cars and working on the Daytona 500 cars in the afternoon with two practices for Daytona 500 qualifying. These teams will not race the same car in the Clash as they race in the Daytona 500.

Who is working together: During practice, keep an eye out for who is working together and who is leading each pack. The manufacturers will likely practice in groups together. Are the Hendrick drivers working with Austin Dillon and Kyle Larson? Are Harvick, Almirola, and Bowyer working with team Penske and Roush or are they split up in three groups? Which car is leading the Gibbs group and can the second and third place car make passes and clear the others down the backstretch? These races tend to be very calm at the beginning. I wouldn’t be surprised if the pole sitter leads 20 laps or more in the first stage. Depending on who draws the pole position and how his teammates are positioned behind him, we can make educated guesses on who will lead laps early and how the drivers will work with each other.

At the end of the day, all we are trying to do at Daytona and Talladega is have all of our drivers on the lead lap with five laps to go. With only 18 cars in the field, one wreck could easily take out half of the field.

What Vegas thinks (via Westgate):
Logano and Keselowski are co-favorites at 8-1 with most of the field between 12-1 and 16-1.

Joey Logano 8-1
Brad Keselowski 8-1
Chase Elliott 10-1
Denny Hamlin 10-1
Kyle Busch 10-1
Ryan Blaney 10-1
Kevin Harvick 12-1
Kurt Busch 12-1
Aric Almirola 16-1
William Byron 16-1
Alex Bowman 16-1
Clint Bowyer 16-1
Jimmie Johnson 16-1
Martin Truex Jr 16-1
Kyle Larson 20-1
Erik Jones 20-1
Austin Dillon 25-1
Ryan Newman 25-1

Driver Ratings Busch Clash:
1. Ryan Blaney 92.2
2. Brad Keselowski 86.3
3. Joey Logano 82.6
4. Denny Hamlin 81.7
5. Kevin Harvick 81.0
6. Kyle Busch 79.8
7. Jimmie Johnson 76.1
8. Martin Truex Jr. 72.8
9. Kurt Busch 71.6
10. Kyle Larson 69.4
11. Alex Bowman 68.6
12. Chase Elliott 67.8
13. Austin Dillon 59.0
14. Aric Almirola 57.9
15. Clint Bowyer 56.8

Average Running Position Busch Clash:
1. Ryan Blaney 6.076
2. Brad Keselowski 8.751
3. Martin Truex Jr. 9.174
4. Kyle Larson 9.571
5. Kyle Busch 9.673
6. Denny Hamlin 9.782
7. Kevin Harvick 9.838
8. Alex Bowman 10.380
9. Joey Logano 10.545
10. Jimmie Johnson 10.582
11. Kurt Busch 10.942
12. Erik Jones 11.630
13. Chase Elliott 11.758
14. Austin Dillon 11.758
15. Aric Almirola 13.338

Laps Led
1. Denny Hamlin 126 (12.9% of laps run)
2. Brad Keselowski 97 (18.1)
3. Kevin Harvick 86 (9.5)
4. Kyle Busch 62 (6.8)
5. Martin Truex Jr. 38 (6.3)
6. Ryan Newman 18 (2.4)
7. Joey Logano 17 (2.0)
8. Chase Elliott 17 (7.6)
9. Jimmie Johnson 14 (1.4)
10. Kurt Busch 9 (0.9)

2019 Top 10
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Kurt Busch
3. Joey Logano
4. Ryan Blaney
5. Alex Bowman
6. Austin Dillon
7. Chase Elliott
8. Aric Almirola
9. Ryan Newman
10. Daniel Suarez

2018 Top 10
1. Brad Keselowski
2. Joey Logano
3. Kurt Busch
4. Ryan Blaney
5. Austin Dillon
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Kyle Busch
8. Erik Jones
9. Kevin Harvick
10. Kyle Larson

2017 Top 10
1. Joey Logano
2. Kyle Busch
3. Alex Bowman
4. Danica Patrick
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Brad Keselowski
7. Chase Elliott
8. Daniel Suarez
9. Chris Buescher
10. Jamie McMurray

2016 Top 10
1. Denny Hamlin
2. Joey Logano
3. Paul Menard
4. Kyle Larson
5. Casey Mears
6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
7. Kurt Busch
8. Austin Dillon
9. Brad Keselowski
10. Greg Biffle

Stay tuned for updated content following the qualifying draw on Saturday.

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