10 February’s Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway will see at most twenty drivers vying for bragging rights. On Thursday, NASCAR announced such drivers would be eligible to compete in the exhibition race.
“There’s no better way to start the season,” NASCAR Executive Vice President Steve O’Donnell stated in a release. “The close, door-to-door action you see in the Advance Auto Parts Clash is a precursor to the intense competition you’ll see in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series throughout 2019.”
The Clash field consists of drivers from four categories: those who won a pole in 2018, those who won the Clash in previous years and compete full-time during the 2018 season, full-time 2018 drivers who have won a Daytona 500, former Daytona 500 pole winners and full-time competitors, and 2018 Cup Series Playoff drivers.
Thirteen drivers won a pole in 2018: Kurt Busch recorded five poles, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch all had four apiece, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney enjoyed three each, while champion Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Daniel Suárez, Alex Bowman, Erik Jones, and Chase Elliott each scored one. The Clash will mark the first races for Kurt Busch and Suárez in new rides, with Busch now driving Chip Ganassi Racing‘s #1 car and Suárez rumoured to take over Busch’s freshly-vacated #41 at Stewart-Haas Racing.
Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray won the Daytona 500 in 2008 and 2010, respectively. Both drivers will be in new cars for the 2019 Clash as Newman has joined Roush Fenway Racing‘s #6 car and McMurray is expected to drive Ganassi’s #40 for the Clash and the 500.
In addition to their 2006 and 2018 Daytona 500 wins, Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon are also eligible via winning the 500 poles in 2002 and 2008 (Johnson) and 2014 (Dillon).
Brad Keselowski, Aric Almirola, and Clint Bowyer qualified for the Chase in 2018. Almirola finished the highest in the standings in fifth, followed by Keselowski (eighth) and Bowyer (twelfth).
The Clash will take place after Daytona 500 qualifying.
“It’s a tremendous day of racing for our fans,” track president Chip Wile said. “Having Daytona 500 Qualifying Presented By Kroger followed by the Advance Auto Parts Clash makes for a sweet first Sunday of Speedweeks and will have fans fully tuned up for the 61st running of the ‘Great American Race’ on Feb. 17.”
Keselowski won the 2018 Clash.