The Busch Clash has marked the beginning of Daytona Speedweeks every season since 1979 and traditionally has featured Pole Award winners from the previous season. In 2021, the Busch Clash will have a very different look in more than one way.
Since the exhibition event’s inception, it has always taken place on the same Daytona International Speedway oval as the Daytona 500. This year, to shake things up, the Busch Clash will race the 14-turn, 3.61-mile road course configuration of Daytona. The race will be 35 laps with a competition caution at lap 15.
The 2021 Busch Clash was originally intended to be the first time the NASCAR Cup Series took on the Daytona road course. Then the COVID-19 pandemic shook up the 2020 schedule and NASCAR opted to spend a weekend on the road course to replace Watkins Glen due to local COVID-19 restrictions. Chase Elliott won the inaugural event leading 34 of 65 laps, beating Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.
In 2021, once again the Daytona road course will host regular season, this time replacing Auto Club Speedway in the week after the Daytona 500.
Drivers were eligible for the Busch Clash if they had won a Busch Pole Award in 2020, previously won a Busch Clash, Daytona 500, or Daytona 500 Pole Award and were a full-time driver in 2020. Drivers were also eligible if they qualified for the 2020 playoffs, or won a race or a stage in 2020. In total, 24 drivers were eligible to compete in the 2021 Busch Clash.
Three of those 24 drivers have retired from full-time Cup competition following the 2020 season and will not attempt the Busch Clash in 2021. Jimmie Johnson is moving on to the IndyCar Series for Chip Ganassi Racing running a majority of the schedule, Clint Bowyer is picking up the microphone joining Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon for the FOX/FS1 broadcasts, and Matt Kenseth concluded his one-year deal after coming out of retirement to pilot the vacated #42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi.
Of the 21 drivers competing in the 2021 Busch Clash, three of them are with new teams than they were in 2020. Alex Bowman is still with Hendrick Motorsports, but is in the #48 Ally Chevrolet, taking over for the retired 7-time champion Jimmie Johnson. Erik Jones will be piloting the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet after leaving Joe Gibbs Racing. The Petty ride opened up after Bubba Wallace took up an opportunity to race for the new 23XI Racing co-owned by Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan. The new team acquired a charter from Germain Racing, who closed their doors after 2020 and made Ty Dillon a free agent.
Wallace is not eligible to run the Busch Clash, but Dillon is, so 23XI Racing has made a deal to run the Clash with Ty Dillon behind the wheel before Wallace runs the entire season with the team. Dillon is scheduled to attempt the Daytona 500 with Gaunt Brothers Racing and will also run a partial schedule in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with Joe Gibbs Racing, a team that has formed an alliance with 23XI Racing.
Austin Dillon, unlike the other drivers in the Clash field, will be making his first start on the road course configuration as he was forced to sit out the 2020 regular season event because of a positive COVID-19 test. However, the elder Dillon brother has since attempted the Rolex 24, a 24-hour IMSA sports car race at Daytona. The only difference between the IMSA and NASCAR configurations of the road course is the frontstretch chicane that will be used for the Clash.
Busch Clash Entry List:
|1||Kurt Busch||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||AdventHealth|
|2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford||MoneyLion|
|3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||Bass Pro Shops|
Tracker Off Road
|4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||Busch Light|
|6||Ryan Newman||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||Guaranteed Rate|
|8||Tyler Reddick||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||TBA|
|9||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||LLumar|
|10||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||Smithfield|
|11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||FedEx Express|
|12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Ford||Menards|
Great Lakes Flooring
|17||Chris Buescher||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||Fastenal|
|18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||M&M's|
|19||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||DeWalt|
|21||Matt DiBenedetto||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford||Motorcraft|
|22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||Shell Pennzoil|
|23||Ty Dillon (i)||23XI Racing||Toyota||Root Insurance|
|24||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||Axalta|
|41||Cole Custer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||HaasTooling.com|
|43||Erik Jones||Richard Petty Motorsports||Chevrolet||RP Funding|
|47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||JTG Daugherty Racing||Chevrolet||Kroger|
NOS Energy Drink
|48||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||Ally|