On a sunny Sunday afternoon in Florida, a booming wall of sound cranked out by 17,000 horsepower reverberated from the Daytona International Speedway high banks. Welcome Race Fans to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series!
By Eric Johnson
Held every years since 1979 (that’s 38 years if you’re not super-good at arithmetic), the Clash, which runs annually the week before the Daytona 500, is basically the first race to boot off the new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The ultimate “pre-season” event, The Clash invited all 2016 Pole Winners, former Clash winners, former Daytona 500 pole winners and all 2016 Chase competitors. A 75-lap race broken out to two segments of 25 laps and 50 laps, the 2017 race proved to be a last lap thriller that wasn’t settled until halfway around the very last lap.
Gas pedal mashed into the floor and at 200 miles per hour Team Penske’s Joey Logano flashes beneath the checkered flag to win the 2017 Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway. The Ford driver took advantage of a crash between race leaders Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin on the last lap of the race. For the 10th time in the history of the Clash, the race was decided on the white flag lap and Logano – winner of the 2015 Daytona 500 – was all too happy to take advantage of his rivals’ misfortune. "It's cool to win the Clash," said a smiling Logano in victory lane. "We came close last year, and it's really neat to be in victory lane and a good start to our day. What a great start for Team Penske."
Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion wheelman Kurt Busch was motoring along in a steady and competitive 12th on-track position when on the 17th lap of the race reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet broke loose and pegged Busch’s No. 41 Ford in the right quarter panel. The ensuing shunt then sent Busch careening head-first into the wall and then, upon bouncing backwards, into the Tri-oval infield. The Las Vegas-born driver was okay, but his race was run and his day was through. “I was just minding my own business in the low groove and we got tagged in the right rear,” sighed Busch afterwards. “It’s kind of a shame. All of the hard work and the effort everybody puts into the offseason, Doug Yates and his engines, everybody from Ford and everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing, all the effort put towards building a car and we didn’t even make it to the first pit stop, so it’s kind of a bummer.”
So what’s the Clash-winning No. 22 Ford Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car all about? Glad you asked. Check out these specifications: Engine: 358 cubic inch pushrod V8. Transmission: 4-speed manual. Weight: 3.325 pounds. Horsepower: 850 HP @ 9,000 rpm. Wheelbase: 110 inches. Tires: Goodyear. Chassis/Body: Tube frame chassis covered by 24-gauge sheet metal. Cost to run a car a full Monster Energy Cup Series season: Upwards of $20-$30 million dollars.
Brave New Era: The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing – better known as NASCAR – has been around since 1949. During its colorful history it has been known as the Strictly Stock Series (1949), the Grand National Series (1950 to 1970), the Winston Cup Series (1971 to 2003), and the Nextel Cup Series/Sprint Cup Series (2004 to 2016). But that was then and this is now. In 2017 Monster Energy, a company involved in racing disciplines the world over, will sponsor America’s premier from of motorsport and couldn’t be more proud to do so. The Clash, as well as next Sunday’s Daytona 500, will introduce the world to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Top to bottom: Kurt Busch (No. 41), Austin Dillon (No. 3) and Kyle Busch (No. 18) form of a flying wedge of horsepower and speed as they fight for position on the 31-degree banking of Daytona International Speedway. While 31-degrees might sound like just a number, if one is to stand at the base of one of the astonishingly steep corners, one will be blown away. To put it all into perspective, if one tried to walk up the side of these banked curves, they simply couldn’t do it. Enough said.
A few hours after the running of Sunday’s Clash at Daytona, pole qualifying for next Sunday’s Daytona 500 fired up upon the 2.5-mile superspeedway. And after all was said and done, it was Chase Elliot winning the Coors Light Pole Award with a flying lap of 46.663 seconds at 192.872 miles per hour. "Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports has done a lot of work this off-season," said Daytona 500 pole winner Elliott who will line up in the No. 24 Chevy. "Everyone is always trying to get better and make their cars better and faster, and the engine shop is always finding new things. I'm happy to be a part of it, and hopefully we can run good next Sunday." Starting alongside Elliot on the front row to start the Daytona 500 next Sunday will be his teammate Dale Earnhardt.
There isn’t too much said about Kyle Busch that hasn’t been said already. Brother of 2004 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Champion Kurt Busch, Kyle not only won the 2015 Cup Championship, but also hold several records in NASCAR competition. With 170 all-time race wins in NASCAR’s Cup, Xfinity and Truck competition, only Richard Petty holds more victories at 200. Considered by many insiders to be the best all-around driver in all of NASCAR, look for big things from Rowdy Busch in ’17.
WELCOME RACE FANS! Yes, the Monster Girls were on hand at the Clash. Kurt Busch insisted.
They’ve been coming to the World Center of Racing since 1959 when Big Bill France, founder of NASCAR and mastermind behind the creation of the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway Tri-oval hosted, hosted the inaugural Daytona 500. Also known as The Great American Race, the Daytona 500 is the one race that every driver dreams of winning. Win the Daytona 500 and you’re a legend. So prestigious and massive a sporting event that over 20 million race fans the world over will watch the 500-mile race on live television.
Ready! Steady! Go! Monster Energy driver Kurt Busch buckles up for the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Kurt Busch on being a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Champion: “Seventeen years and over 575 races, and man if there still aren’t times in the race when I hold my breath, hang on tight and hope that when the smoke clears, I’m pointing in the right direction, then I’m not pushing hard enough.”