NASCAR’s season opening Busch Clash to run on Daytona’s road course

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 09: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 MoneyLion Ford, leads the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Busch Clash at Daytona International Speedway on February 09, 2020 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Next season’s 2020 NASCAR Speedweeks at Daytona will be shorter next season, and have a bit of a twist, both left and right.

The Busch Clash, a non-point’s race that traditionally kicks of the NASCAR Cup season will take place under the lights on Tuesday, Feb. 9 2020, 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 International Speedway 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,’’ Wile added.

The 3.56-mile Daytona road course is famous for the IMSA season opening Rolex 24 which normally takes place in January.

“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 NASCAR’s Vice President of Racing Development Ben Kennedy. “Fans coming to the track will get to see six consecutive days of exciting NASCAR action, with no days being the same.’’

The Speedweeks schedule this season ran from the Friday (with practice) an ARCA race on Saturday, NASCAR Cup qualifying on Sunday followed by the Busch Clash.

Next season after the Busch Clash road course event on Tuesday, Daytona 500 Qualifying (for the front row) will take place Wednesday, Feb. 10. The 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 on 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.

“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.’’

Greg Engle