Speedweeks has officially kicked off for the NASCAR Cup Series with the 2020 Daytona 500 qualifying, and the Busch Clash. 18 drivers made up the field by either winning a pole in the previous season, making the playoffs in the previous season, or winning the Daytona 500 at some point in their career. All three Team Penske drivers, all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers, and all four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers were part of the field and heavily favorited.
Ryan Newman was on the pole position through a random draw, but Brad Keselowski quickly took control of the race. Within four laps, everyone moved into a single file and began to log some laps. At lap 25, most of the leaders came down pit road right before the competition caution came out. Fords and Toyotas took control of the race with Keselowski out front. The front runners made another strategy move by pitting early under green with all Chevrolet drivers staying out. However, Keselowski and a bunch of cars stacked up behind him were able to track down Chase Elliott and the Chevys running out front. Once the two groups merged, Joey Logano took the lead over while Kyle Busch received a big push from behind. Logano threw a block while Busch was gaining ground. With the Denny Hamlin running below Busch, making it three-wide, Busch ran into the back of Logano. Busch looked to the inside, not realizing that Hamlin was below him and caught the back bumper of Logano, causing a big wreck down the backstretch.
More and more wrecks continued to happen as this year’s Clash could have been mistaken for a demolition derby. There were another four wrecks leaving just six cars in the field for a green flag in overtime. Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon were the front row, while teammates Denny Hamlin. who was a lap down, and Erik Jones took their positions for the last restart. Jones received a big push from Hamlin, who knew he could not win and the two soared into the lead. It was all that was needed since there were now only five cars left in the field. Nobody else could string a run big enough to catch the two, allowing Erik Jones to win the 2020 Busch Clash.
The Clash was a great race for spectators to get a glimpse of what is yet to come. Thursday night is the annual Bluegreen Vacation Duels which will set the lineup for this Sunday’s Daytona 500. As it sits right, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Alex Bowman hold the best potential to make up the front row on Sunday if all goes according to plan.