It seems odd when you look back at it, that first Clash held at Daytona in 1979, having nearly forgotten that the NASCAR season didn’t officially begin in Daytona Beach back then.
It would be three more years, 1982, before competition at Daytona opened the season; in ’79 Darrell Waltrip had already won at Riverside (Calif.) before teams headed south in search of sun, surf and checkered flags.
Buddy Baker won the pole for the Daytona 500, shattering the track record previously held by Cale Yarborough, and later won his qualifying race as well.
In between the two, Baker dominated the inaugural Busch Clash, a 20-lap race that featured a field of nine.
Baker, driving for Harry Ranier and with Herb Nab as his crew chief, led 18 of the 20 laps; Waltrip, the runner-up, led the other two.
It was Baker’s lone win in the special, non-points race.
Also noted: A third-generation driver named Kyle Petty won his first race, an ARCA event, at Daytona that week.
o Sunday’s running of the Advance Auto Parts Clash (3 p.m. ET, FS1) will feature a field of 17 consisting of last year’s pole winners, former Daytona 500 pole winners who didn’t win a pole last year and last year’s playoff drivers who also did not win a pole last year but qualified for the playoffs.
Twenty drivers are actually eligible but Matt Kenseth has no ride for ’18, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is out of the car and in the TV booth, and Danica Patrick will focus on her final Daytona 500 and NASCAR start.
Saturday, the starting lineup will be determined by a blind draw in the UNOH Fanzone featuring fans and crew chiefs for each eligible team.
Sunday’s 75-lap race will feature a pre-determined break after lap 25.
Eligible drivers are defending winner Joey Logano and teammates Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney (Team Penske Ford), Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing Ford), Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), Chase Elliott and Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet), Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Roush Fenway Racing Ford), Martin Truex Jr. (Furniture Row Racing Toyota), Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman (Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet) and Kasey Kahne (Leavine Family Racing Chevrolet).
In addition to Logano, Hamlin, Harvick, Johnson, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch are former Clash winners.