The Busch Clash hasn’t typically been kind to seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. In 17 career starts in the annual all-star race at the Daytona International Speedway, Johnson has nine finishes outside of the top 10, all since 2009. In fact, he’s been involved in a crash in six of his last eight Clash starts.
But, last year it was Johnson that sparked a 17 car melee in Turn 3 as he narrowly escaped by and by virtue of holding the lead after the crash and rain falling, he was awarded the victory after just 59 of 75 laps.
This year, Johnson comes to Daytona with bittersweet feelings. See, this is likely his last Speedweeks. Back in November, Johnson announced that the 2020 season would be his last full time effort in NASCAR. While he’s not going to hang his helmet up fully, he’s just not going to race 36 weeks a year anymore.
So, with that, this would likely be Johnsons’ last Clash too.
“Coming down here, I obviously know this is my last full-time season,” Johnson said on Saturday. “So there were mixed emotions. But, I’m excited to start my final year. To know that Ally is on board, Hendrick Motorsports getting the team where it is, I really feel like we have an opportunity to have a strong year on track and go out in style.”
Johnson, will look to defend this Clash win on Sunday afternoon (3 p.m. ET/FS1/MRN) as he says the Clash now is more important than ever before.
“We don’t have a chance to test, so a lot of us haven’t been in a Cup car, except for the guys that did the 2021 (test) stuff,” Johnson said. “So two drivers of the 40 have been in a race car since Homestead. Now more than ever (the Clash) is very useful.”
In the past, Daytona use to host Preseason Thunder in January for Cup teams to come down and test. That has since been eliminated. Then, with testing restrictions, no one has really been in their race cars since they exited them three months ago in South Florida at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Now, for 18 of the 43 drivers here this Speedweeks, they get a 75 lap tuneup before the real deal a week later.