NASCAR: Can Kyle Busch avoid recent unfortunate trend?

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Kyle Busch took the checkered flag to win the Busch Clash, but can he avoid a recent unfortunate trend from NASCAR’s season-opening exhibition race?

After three months, NASCAR Cup Series cars were back on the track at the Daytona International Speedway road course on Tuesday evening for the Busch Clash exhibition race, and it was a crazy one to say the least.

It was Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, who led the race for only a few seconds total, who took the checkered flag after contact between Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney in the final corner as Elliott attempted to take the lead and win the race after starting in 21st (last) place.

Take a look at the finish.

Busch led only the final lap of this 35-lap race around the 14-turn, 3.61-mile (5.810-kilometer) road course in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Elliott ended up finishing in second place, while Blaney had to settle for 13th. Team Penske’s Joey Logano, Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick and Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron rounded out the top five.

Here are the full race results.

Race Results
1st – Kyle Busch
2nd – Chase Elliott
3rd – Joey Logano
4th – Tyler Reddick
5th – William Byron
6th – Denny Hamlin
7th – Alex Bowman
8th – Erik Jones
9th – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
10th – Matt DiBenedetto
11th – Austin Dillon
12th – Aric Almirola
13th – Ryan Blaney
14th – Ryan Newman
15th – Kevin Harvick
16th – Chris Buescher
17th – Brad Keselowski
18th – Ty Dillon
19th – Kurt Busch
20th – Cole Custer
21st – Martin Truex Jr.

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While it’s great for Busch to start out the year with a trophy, even if it is only from an exhibition race, after his disappointing one-win 2020 season, which saw him eliminated in the round of 12 of the playoffs as the reigning champion, he will now be trying to avoid falling victim to a recent unfortunate trend.

The last two seasons, the Busch Clash winner has gone winless in the actual 36-race season. In 2019, it was Jimmie Johnson. Last year, it was Erik Jones. Neither driver even managed to make it into the playoffs.

In fact, no Busch Clash winner has gone to the Championship 4 since Denny Hamlin in 2014, and no Busch Clash winner has won the championship since Tony Stewart in 2002.

The actual 2021 season is scheduled to get underway this Sunday, February 14 at the Daytona International Speedway oval with the 63rd annual Daytona 500. Fox is set to broadcast the race live beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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Single-car qualifying to set the front row is scheduled to take place this evening, and the Bluegreen Vacations Duels to set the full starting lineup are scheduled to take place tomorrow evening. Fox Sports 1 is set to broadcast these sessions live beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET on their respective dates.