18 cars entered the 75 Lap Busch Clash this weekend. The race ended up going 88 laps or 1-hour and 39-seconds, the longest in the 43 year history of the annual preseason all-star event at the Daytona International Speedway, and saw just six cars cross the finish line.
That’s a problem.
It’s also a problem when the first 65 laps of the race saw all 18 drivers run mostly single file. The final 23 laps, including three attempts in overtime, was nothing but a crash fest that saw literally all 18 drivers that took the green flag nearly two hours prior, get involved in at least one of the crashes.
Heck, the guy that won, Erik Jones, was collected in all three crashes and even missed his pit stop on the lone green flag stop of the race and still won. He was pushed by a crashed lapped down car from his teammate Denny Hamlin.
This race used to have prestige, but lately drivers are questioning the point of even racing in it. Last year, 17 of the 20 starters crashed, all on the final green flag lap before the rain fell to end the race after 59 of 75 laps. The first 50+laps were run with drivers circling on top of the banking in the turns — single file.
The Busch Clash has gone back towards a historic feel lately. From 1979 through 2002, the race was run during day time conditions. From 2003 through 2017, it was run under the lights with the only two exceptions (2006, 2017) the race being rained out and forced to Sunday.
In 2018, the race was moved permanently back to the Sunday during the day, a week before the Daytona 500. For 2020, the original namesake, the Busch Clash, was back. Now, we may need to revisit racing for 75 laps and just shortening it back to 20 or 25 and making this truly a pole winning event.
I mean, how do you go from a majority of the race run with single file conditions to a crash fest?
Brad Keselowski knows and he’s not happy by it. In fact, it could spark a new rivalry within the organization. Keselowski, was pissed following an early race crash in the 2018 Coke Zero Sugar 400. He was mad that William Byron moved to block him which caused Keselowski to have to check up and switch lanes which sparked a melee in Turn 3. Keselowski said then, that if he’s blocked again, he’s not lifting.
A year later in practice for the Coke Zero Sugar 400 last July, the same situation happened and Keselowski punted Byron in Turn 3. He did that to send a message that blocking on a superspeedway is dangerous and was setting a precedence.
Well, he was involved in the first crash of the day on Sunday when his teammate Joey Logano moved to block Kyle Busch down the banking in Turn 3 with 10 laps remaining in regulation of the Busch Clash. The duo would spark a six car crash which collected Keselowski when he had no where to go.
“Just got wrecked for no reason,” Keselowski told reporters after the crash. ” … just dumb moves being thrown out there. Guys that don’t know what they’re doing, so they throw crazy-ass blocks.
“It’s just ridiculous. We shouldn’t be wrecking all these cars. I’m not Tony Stewart. I’m not as smart as he is and he could say it a lot better than I could, but this is just dumb.”
It’s the continuation of an already frustrating Speedweeks for Keselowski, who Saturday hit a fence post in the garage. The No. 2 crew had to work extra this weekend to get his No. 2 Ford ready for qualifying on Sunday afternoon.
“Apparently we all suck at this because there’s only three cars running right now,” Logano said after finally exiting the race later in the afternoon. ” … I’m sure (Brad’s) alright. We get along fine.”
Penske saw big wholesale changes this past offseason with changes to all three crew chiefs. Now, they have some trouble brewing with the drivers inside of their organization now.