Kyle Busch took advantage of Chase Elliott’s aggressive move on Ryan Blaney in the final corner of Tuesday night’s exhibition Busch Clash to score the checkered flag.
Busch was a distant third on the final lap as Elliott was chasing Blaney for the lead. Elliott drew closer to Blaney on the backstretch chicane and was in position to make a move on the final frontstretch chicane.
He made that move and got alongside Blaney as the two navigated the left-right corner combination. But there wasn’t enough room for both of them to make it through the final corner and Blaney went spinning into the wall.
That opened it up for Busch, who drove past a slow Elliott to take the checkered flag.
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) February 10, 2021
Tuesday night’s race was the first Clash raced on the Daytona infield road course. The preseason race has been a NASCAR staple since 1979 but has always been contested on the traditional Daytona oval until 2021.
But NASCAR moved the race to the road course with its original pre-pandemic plans intact. While those plans changed, NASCAR decided to keep the Clash on the road course and move it to the Tuesday night before the Daytona 500.
Drivers who raced Tuesday night have a huge advantage
Tuesday night’s race was scheduled for the road course before the pandemic forced NASCAR to move the Watkins Glen race to the Daytona road course in 2020. And NASCAR is hosting a Cup Series race again on the Daytona road course in less than two weeks in lieu of a race at Auto Club Speedway in California due to pandemic restrictions.
The drivers that raced on Tuesday night now have a big jump on preparations for that Feb. 21 race. NASCAR has changed its road course rules for 2021 and added horsepower and cut downforce from the cars. That meant cars have a faster top speed and less corner grip at the Daytona road course than they did a year ago.
Those who raced Tuesday night got a chance to figure out where their new braking and acceleration points are on the road course. Without practice or qualifying ahead of the points race in 12 days, drivers who weren’t in the Clash don’t have that valuable information ahead of the green flag.
The equitable thing to do would be to add a practice session ahead of the race for the drivers and teams that didn’t race on Tuesday. But NASCAR may not be willing to do that. Teams aren’t bringing backup cars to races without practices and qualifying ahead of the 2021 season to save money.
What’s next at Daytona
It’s time to get down to business for the Daytona 500. Wednesday night features pole qualifying for the Daytona 500. The top two starting spots for the race and the starting lineups for the Duel qualifying races will be decided. The Duel qualifying races are on Thursday night ahead of Sunday’s Daytona 500. Forty-four cars are entered for 40 spots in Sunday’s race. Thirty-six cars are guaranteed spots in the race, meaning that eight cars are racing for four spots over the course of Wednesday and Thursday.
1. Kyle Busch
2. Chase Elliott
3. Joey Logano
4. Tyler Reddick
5. William Byron
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Alex Bowman
8. Erik Jones
9. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
10. Matt DiBenedetto
11. Austin Dillon
12. Aric Almirola
13. Ryan Blaney
14. Ryan Newman
15. Kevin Harvick
16. Chris Buescher
17. Brad Keselowski
18. Ty Dillon
19. Kurt Busch
20. Cole Custer
21. Martin Truex Jr.
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