UPDATE: In a response to fans’ increased interest in road-course races, Daytona International Speedway announced today that the Busch Clash At DAYTONA will move to the speedway’s 3.56-mile road course and be held under the lights on Tuesday, Feb. 9, making the annual preseason NASCAR Cup Series event one of the most unique in all of motorsports.
The 2021 Busch Clash at DAYTONA, an exhibition-style event, will be held on the same course as the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA and the DAYTONA 200, North America’s premier races for sports cars and motorcycles, respectively. Road-course racing has always been a vital component on the speedway calendar, with the Rolex 24 first held in 1962 as a three-hour race called the Daytona Continental while the DAYTONA 200 moved off the old Daytona Beach-Road Course to the speedway in 1961.
"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."
In contrast to the tightly packed competition on the speedway’s famed 2.5-mile high-back-tri-oval, the reimagined Busch Clash will utilize approximately three-quarters of the tri-oval along with the challenging infield portion of the road course. That translates into 12 turns instead of the usual four.
"Having driven on the road course at Daytona in the Rolex 24, I know how difficult the circuit can be," said 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."
That challenge entails the high-speed entrance into Turn 1, as drivers dive left off the front straight to begin the twists and turns the infield offers, including the east and west Horseshoe turns and the trick negotiation of the back stretch chicane prior to a climb back atop the bank in Turn 3.
"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 Busch Clash At DAYTONA was held for the 42nd consecutive time on Sunday, February 9, featuring NASCAR Cup Series pole winners and playoff participants from the previous season, former Busch Clash champions and former DAYTONA 500 champions and pole winners who competed full time in 2019.
"Busch Beer is excited to play an integral role in this historic shift for NASCAR and its fans," said Nick Kelly, vice president partnerships, beer category and community, Anheuser-Busch. "Moving the Busch Clash to Daytona’s road course will differentiate the event from every other race during DAYTONA Speedweeks and drive even more attention to the first NASCAR Cup Series race of 2021."
"We know how passionate our viewers are about both Daytona International Speedway and road course racing," said Brad Zager, FOX Sports Executive Producer, EVP/Head of Production & Operations. "Additionally, fans have been craving mid-week races. These changes to the 2021 opening slate of races will provide new and unique story-telling opportunities when we kick off the season on FOX Sports."
In addition to the changes to the Busch Clash, it was also announced the Lucas Oil 200 Driven By General Tire ARCA Menards Series season-opening race shifts to Saturday, Feb. 13, as part of a doubleheader with the NASCAR Xfinity Series race, the NASCAR Racing Experience 300.
DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 10, to set the front row for the DAYTONA 500. The Bluegreen Vacations Duel at DAYTONA qualifying races will remain on Thursday night, Feb. 11, followed by the NextEra Energy 250 to open the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season on Friday night, Feb. 12.
— Daytona International Speedway —
ORIGINAL POST: Less than a month after Denny Hamlin celebrated his Daytona 500 crown in the sport’s most famous Victory Lane, Daytona International Speedway has announced adjustments to the traditional 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening race week – changing the course of the popular Busch Clash race and condensing the schedule of Daytona Speedweeks.
Next year, the annual Busch Clash race will kick off the on-track action under the lights Tuesday, Feb. 9, and instead of racing on the Daytona 2.5-mile high banks, stock cars will compete on the track’s road course for the first time.
Daytona president Chip Wile announced the news Wednesday in advance of hosting this weekend’s 50th running of the Daytona Supercross.
"We continue to look for opportunities to differentiate the Busch Clash from the Daytona 500 and obviously everything we do around Speedweeks presented by Advent Health is about building toward the 500," Wile said. "This is about how we can continue to push and elevate the Busch Clash to be something different. And we’ve done that with a lot of new initiatives the first weekend.
"We’ve seen growth year over year with the Busch Clash and that weekend, but to see the resurgence in road-course racing and the excitement around it from the fans, we thought, why can’t we do this."
The road course at Daytona is best known for hosting IMSA’s season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, as well as the Daytona 200, North America’s premier races for sports cars and motorcycles, respectively.
"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," said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s Vice President of Racing Development. "Fans coming to the track will get to see six consecutive days of exciting NASCAR action, with no days being the same."
The new schedule and new venue is just another example of NASCAR’s willingness to be open to ideas and enhance what is already viewed as the highest profile week in stock car racing.
The action-packed six-day schedule for 2021 Speedweeks will now start with the Busch Clash road course event Tuesday, Feb. 9, and culminate with the Daytona 500 on Valentine’s Day – Sunday, Feb. 14.
After the Busch Clash road-course event, Daytona 500 Qualifying presented by Kroger will take place Wednesday, Feb. 10. The Bluegreen Vacations Duel races to set the rest of the Daytona 500 field will remain on a Thursday evening, Feb. 11, followed by the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race Friday, Feb. 12.
Saturday, Feb. 13, will become a double-header with the NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener and the ARCA Menards Series Lucas Oil 200. Then "The Great American Race," the Daytona 500, will take place Feb. 14, putting an exclamation point on the week of speed.
The change in course for the Busch Clash adds a new dimension to NASCAR’s opening week and certainly provides a new viewing opportunity for fans, who can watch the race from Daytona’s infield as well as the grandstands.
"NASCAR fans have asked for more road-course competition and the industry is listening," 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 Speedweeks in 2021.
"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."
— NASCAR Wire Service —