The Clash at Daytona
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The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series kicks off this weekend with the Advance Auto Parts Clash. The exhibition race at Daytona International Speedway is the start of Speedweeks, and while next Sunday's Daytona 500 is the main course, Saturday night's 75-lap shootout should serve as an exciting appetizer.
The race will be divided into two segments, and there will be a competition caution after the first 25 laps. The field will be limited to drivers who won a pole in 2016, former Clash winners, former Daytona 500 pole winners who competed full-time in 2016 and drivers who qualified for the playoffs last year. The smaller field is a throwback to the early days of the event, and only 17 drivers are scheduled to take the green flag.
In order to help you get your fantasy NASCAR season off on the right foot, I've ranked all 17 Clash drivers. Make sure to check back all season long for rankings, strategies and lineup tips, and check out the Clash Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET on FS1.
1. DENNY HAMLIN, #11 FEDEX, JOE GIBBS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
Hamlin is the defending winner of the Clash and a three-time winner of the event overall. He is also the defending winner of the Daytona 500 and has been one of the best at restrictor-plate tracks over the last couple of years.
2. BRAD KESELOWSKI, #2 MILLER LITE, TEAM PENSKE [YAHOO CLASS A]
He owns five career wins at restrictor-plate tracks, and he was the dominant driver in plate events last year. In four starts in the Clash, Keselowski has three Top 10s, finishing as high as second.
3. KEVIN HARVICK, #4 JIMMY JOHNS, STEWART-HAAS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
Harvick is one of the most consistent drivers at the plate tracks, and his 9.2 average finish in the Clash ranks in the Top 5. More importantly, he is a three-time winner of the event.
4. JOEY LOGANO, #22 SHELL-PENNZOIL, TEAM PENSKE [YAHOO CLASS A]
He has emerged as one of the stronger plate track options in recent years, picking up a win in the Daytona 500 and a victory at Talladega. It seems like only a matter of time before he adds the Clash to his resume. He has finished third, fourth, sixth and second in his last four starts in the event.
5. KYLE BUSCH, #18 M&M'S, JOE GIBBS RACING [YAHOO CLASS A]
The all-or-nothing nature of the Clash is a perfect fit for Busch's checkers-or-wreckers personality. He averages a Top 10 finish in the event, winning the 2012 race.