The Candy Man Can - Kyle Busch Steals the Busch Clash

Jared C. Tilton - Getty Images

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – RIS - Kyle Busch scored a surprising preseason victory Tuesday night in the Busch Clash exhibition, avoiding a crash between front-runners Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott, to kick off the NASCAR Cup Series season with the annual exhibition held for the first time on the Daytona International Speedway road course.

Busch led only the last of 35 laps in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, winning the Clash for the second time. Early damage did not seem to affect his car, as his car was running in third place the the time of the crash.  Busch cleared the tow cars who had tangled and drove away for the win.

Defending Cup Series champion Elliott placed second, driving away from contact with Blaney in the final chicane. Joey Logano finished third with Tyler Reddick and William Byron rounding out the top five in order.

Elliott had dropped to the rear for the start because of unapproved adjustments to his No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He won in the series’ only other appearance on the 3.61-mile Daytona circuit, winning a points-paying race at the track last August as part of his current four-win streak on road courses.

The race was not segmented into stages, but a competition caution after the 15th lap split the race into two portions. Kevin Harvick spun twice in that opening part, first looping his No. 4 Ford in the bus-stop chicane after a measure of dirt had been kicked up on the racing surface. His second off-course excursion came after a jumbled restart, complicated by Blaney’s attempt to rejoin the racing line after overshooting Turn 1.

Martin Truex Jr. led on two occasions but found trouble each time, shortly after going to the front. He was the leader at the competition-caution break, but he skipped the track’s final chicane during the caution period while looking for the pace car to pick up the field. His No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota restarted the race at the rear of the pack after the penalty. “I don’t know why I did that,” Truex said. “Terrible job, sorry.”

He was apologetic again after crashing into the outside retaining wall.  He finished 21st in the 21-car field.

The Busch Clash was originally run at the beginning of Speed Weeks for pole winners in the previous year.  This is the first time the non-points paying race did not run of the 2.2-mile superspeedway in an attempt to have a variety of races and racing tracks on the schedule.

Unofficial race results for the 43rd Annual Busch Clash At Daytona - Tuesday, February 9, 2021

DAYTONA Road Course - Daytona Beach, FL – 3.61 miles

Fin,St,Driver,Car,Laps,Laps Led ,Tms Led,Status
1,16,Kyle Busch,18 M&M's Toyota,35,1,1,Running
2,7,Chase Elliott,9 Llumar Chevrolet,35,4,1,Running
3,10,Joey Logano,22 Shell Pennzoil Ford,35,,,Running
4,6,Tyler Reddick,8 I Am Second Chevrolet,35,1,1,Running
5,5,William Byron,24 Axalta Chevrolet,35,,,Running
6,3,Denny Hamlin,11 FedEx Express Toyota,35,21,4,Running
7,2,Alex Bowman,48 Ally Chevrolet,35,,,Running
8,9,Erik Jones,43 RP Funding Chevrolet,35,,,Running
9,20,Ricky Stenhouse Jr.,47 Kroger/NOS Energy Drink Chevrolet,35,,,Running
10,12,Matt DiBenedetto,21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford,35,,,Running
11,19,Austin Dillon,3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road Chevrolet,35,,,Running
12,21,Aric Almirola,10 Smithfield Ford,35,,,Running
13,1,Ryan Blaney,12 Menards/Great Lakes Flooring Ford,35,4,3,Running
14,11,Ryan Newman,6 Guaranteed Rate Ford,35,,,Running
15,17,Kevin Harvick,4 Busch Light Ford,35,,,Running
16,13,Chris Buescher,17 Fastenal Ford,35,,,Running
17,4,Brad Keselowski,2 MoneyLion Ford,35,1,1,Running
18,14,Ty Dillon(i),23Root Insurance Toyota,35,,,Running
19,15,Kurt Busch,1 AdventHealth Chevrolet,35,1,1,Running
20,8,Cole Custer,41 HaasTooling.com Ford,32,,,Running
21,18,Martin Truex Jr.,19 DeWalt Toyota,27,2,1,Accident

Time of Race: 1 Hr, 30 Min, 25 Sec
Race Length: 35 Laps
126.35 Miles
Average Speed: 83.845 MPH 
Margin of Victory: .765 sec

Comments: Kyle Busch won the Busch Clash at DAYTONA Road Course, his second victory (2012, 2021) in the non-points paying NASCAR Cup Series race. Prior to the start of the race, the following vehicle(s) dropped to the rear of the field for the reasons indicated: No. 9 (unapproved adjustment). 

Caution Flags: 4 for 8 laps;
Laps: 9-10 (Debris Turns 9 and 10 [None]);
17-18 (Competition [None])
23-24 (#41 Stopped On Track [None]);
29-30 (#19 Incident Turn 10 [41]).

Lead Changes: 13 among 8 drivers;
D. Hamlin 1-9;
R. Blaney 10;
T. Reddick 11;
B. Keselowski 12;
D. Hamlin 13;
M. Truex Jr. 14-15;
D. Hamlin 16-17;
K. Busch 18;
D. Hamlin 19-27;
R. Blaney 28-29;
C. Elliott 30-33;
R. Blaney 34; K. Busch 35.

Ron Fleshman with John Davison

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2021, Issue 2, Posted 9:31 PM, 02.09.2021