Up to 20 of the NASCAR Cup Series' top drivers will get their first taste of Daytona International Speedway race-type competition in 2019 on Feb. 10 at the Advance Auto Parts Clash. On Thursday, NASCAR revealed the format for the 2019 edition of the yearly exhibition race and the latest qualifying criteria for the event.
“There’s no better way to start the season,” NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell said. “The close, door-to-door action you see in the Advance Auto Parts Clash is a precursor to the intense competition you’ll see in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series throughout 2019.”
The 2019 Clash will be a 75-lap race on the 2.5-mile track. The yellow flag will wave for a competition caution after the completion of Lap 25. The race is scheduled for an approximate 3 p.m. ET start, following Daytona 500 front-row qualifying.
Drivers who competed full-time in the Cup Series in 2018 are eligible for the 2019 Clash if they won a pole for a points-paying race last season, have a Daytona 500 pole to their credit, were among the 16 playoff drivers in 2018, or are previous winners of the Daytona 500 or the Clash.
Those criteria make 20 drivers eligible for the 2019 Advance Auto Parts Clash: Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Daniel Suarez, Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Jimmie Johnson, Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, and Brad Keselowski.
All of the eligible drivers have cemented and publicly known plans for Daytona, except Suarez and McMurray. McMurray will transition from driving a Cup Series car to a broadcasting career in 2019, but Chip Ganassi Racing is expected to run a third car, a No. 40 Chevrolet, for McMurray at Daytona. McMurray has been replaced by Kurt Busch in the No. 1 CGR Chevrolet ahead of the 2019 season. Suarez's spot at Joe Gibbs Racing has been filled by Martin Truex Jr., and his racing plans for next year have not been made public.