Defending champ Johnson among 20 eligible for 2017 'Clash' at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The 2017 NASCAR season will kick off at Daytona International Speedway with the return of The Clash to the world center of racing.
The name, which is a throwback to the event's original name with then title sponsor Busch Beer, will feature up to 20 drivers battling in a two-segment, 75-lap shootout under the lights of Daytona. Following completion of Lap 25, a competition caution will be displayed, setting up a 50-lap race to the finish.
Eligible drivers include 16 Coors Light Pole winners from last season, former event winners, 2016 Chase drivers, and former Daytona 500 pole winners.
"What better way to kick off the 2017 season than the sport's brightest stars under the lights at Daytona International Speedway," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice
Among the eligible drivers is freshly crowned seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson. The list of drivers who punched their ticket to the race via a 2016 pole is as follows: Greg Biffle, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Carl Edwards, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Martin Truex, Jr.
Former event winners Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Tony Stewart are eligible for the race. It is unclear if Stewart, who retired from full-time Cup Series competition following the 2016 season, will compete in The Clash.
Speaking of Earnhardt, the driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet made it clear via Twitter last year that he wanted a return to the simpler rules used in the event in past years.
Chris Buescher and Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray are eligible for the event by virtue of qualifying for The Chase last season. Danica Patrick rounds out the list of eligible drivers thanks to winning the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500.
The season-opening event will be broadcast live