NASCAR: Cup Series season kicks off Tuesday in Daytona

Nathan Solomon
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – JULY 04: Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, and Paul Menard, driver of the #21 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford, lead Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 BodyArmor Ford, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 04, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The long off-season is finally nearing an end. On Tuesday, the NASCAR Cup Series returns to action at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course for the Busch Clash, an exhibition race. Under the following criteria, 24 drivers are eligible for the 35 lap race around the 14-turn, 3.61-mile road course:

  • 2020 Busch Pole Award winners
  • Past Busch Clash winners who competed full-time in 2020
  • DAYTONA 500 champions who competed full-time in 2020
  • Former DAYTONA 500 Busch Pole winners who competed full-time in 2020
  • 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff drivers
  • 2020 NASCAR Cup Series race winners
  • 2020 NASCAR Cup Series stage winners

Of the 24 eligible drivers, 21 will participate:

  • Kurt Busch
  • Brad Keselowski
  • Austin Dillon
  • Kevin Harvick
  • Ryan Newman
  • Tyler Reddick
  • Chase Elliott
  • Aric Almirola
  • Denny Hamlin
  • Ryan Blaney
  • Chris Buescher
  • Kyle Busch
  • Martin Truex Jr
  • Matt DiBenedetto
  • Joey Logano
  • Ty Dillon
  • William Byron
  • Cole Custer
  • Erik Jones
  • Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  • Alex Bowman

All of the drivers except Ty Dillion are driving the race with their full-time 2021 team. Dillion, who doesn’t have a full-time ride, will drive the No. 23 for 23XI Racing to give the new team practice for the regular season.

Three drivers eligible for this year’s race, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, and Clint Bowyer, will not participate. Johnson quit full-time NASCAR and will race IndyCar in 2021, while Kenseth presumably retired. Bowyer will now be in the NASCAR on FOX booth, calling Cup Series races and select Xfinity Series races.

Tuesday’s Busch Clash begins at 7 pm ET on FS1, with coverage beginning at 6 pm. Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds, Jeff Gordon, and Clint Bowyer will be on the call. The race’s starting order will be determined via a random draw Monday at 9 pm ET on the Daytona International Speedway Facebook page.