Well race fans, are you ready?
The NASCAR Busch Clash was hit or miss depending on what you think of road racing. I am in favor of the road courses as they offer closer racing than a boring 1.5 mile race, so it was a hit for me.
But with that said, the Busch Clash wasn’t all that interesting even if it did offer up quite a bit of tight racing. It was certainly interesting at the end and if that is all that people remember, then it was a successful show. The rest of the small field was left to bang around on each other and no one else was really a threat to win. Martin Truex, Jr. looked capable of winning but missed picking up the pace car during a caution and then smacked the wall suffering heavy damage.
Chase Elliott may not have been able to drive through the field (granted a small field) if this had been run at Sonoma. The high banks of Daytona offered some better stretches to go fast and get around slower cars. But again, Chase has proven his left-right driving skills the past couple of years so what do I know.
It certainly looked like a follow the leader race led by Denny Hamlin for much of the night. But late race pit stops had many drivers on differing strategies and that came back to bite Hamlin. Young Ryan Blaney has been stout on road courses as well and he was right up front most of the night no matter who was leading. When it came down to Blaney and Elliott at the end of the night, that was all we needed to see as they battled each other for the win. Tires and brakes were worn out and it was a matter of who could dive bomb the other without wrecking. Turns out, the bus stop was once again the scene of a race winning move. As Blaney and Elliott banged off of each other and spun out, Kyle Busch made the move from third to first.
And that’s how you stay in position to win.
What did we learn from the race?
Many drivers needed to knock the rust off. Harvick, a decent road course racer, still hasn’t mastered the tight turns of the Daytona Road Course.
None of this matters for the Daytona 500 but the entire field returns to the road course the very next race. Then we’ll see what drivers are really made of.
What does matter for the rest of the season is that Gibbs and Penske look strong but do the Fords of Penske have the speed of the Gibbs Toyotas? We need to see what
A lot of drivers have pressure on them to win this year and that may mean they take chances they might normally not take. We saw several drivers go for “openings” that maybe or maybe not were really there, but that is road course racing. But I expect to see some of that on regular tracks as the season wears on. With 6 road course races in the regular season, that’s basically 25% of the races. Teams cannot afford to not take them seriously.
Think about this: we all know the Daytona 500 is its own special race and in the past, many drivers used to say “Well, now this is over and we can get down to real racing” because the very next race started the season of oval track racing.
That isn’t so in 2021.
Now there is the 500 and then the Daytona road course. Teams can’t afford to let two races slip away before the oval track season starts at Homestead. Then there are only four oval races before the dirt race at Bristol. Then 6 more oval tracks before Circuit of the Americas.
See what I mean? Drivers don’t have a lot of time to find their oval track rhythm. The ovals are going to be split up with tracks that require a different style of racing.
Welcome to 2021. It is certainly going to be interesting.
And in case ya didn’t sit through qualifying, it’s an all Hendrick front row with Alex Bowman and William Byron.
Chuck’s previous article can be found here: Welcome Back to Racing!
Read more of Chuck’s columns here: Chuck Checks In!
For more on the Daytona 500 from The MotorSportsNews.Net(work), click here.