The Clash at Daytona
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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season kicks off this weekend with the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway, and the exhibition event also marks the official return of DFS NASCAR.
The unique setup for the Clash is going to make for an interesting opener. For one, the race is just 75 laps, so there aren’t many points available in the laps led and fastest laps run categories. There are also no points on the line, so drivers don't mind being a little extra aggressive. Case in point, about half the field, has crashed out in the event in each of the last two years.
Perhaps most importantly, there are just 17 cars in the field this weekend, so the points available in the place differential category are very limited. Normally, the category is the most reliable source of points at restrictor-plate tracks, but with just 17 drivers, it becomes significantly less valuable.
Given the short distance of the race and the unusually small size of the field, finishing position is going to be the most valuable category for Saturday's race. In fact, there is a decent chance that the winning six-car lineup will be the lineup with the top six finishers in the race.
There will be a random draw for starting spots Friday afternoon, and you can check out the Clash Saturday at 8:00 p.m. ET on FS1.
Brad Keselowski ($10,100)
Keselowski picked up two more restrictor-plate wins last season, raising his career total to five. He also led a series-best 252 laps at plate tracks in 2016, so he is probably the best bet to deliver sizeable bonus points in the laps led category. Keselowski has three Top 10s in four career starts in the Clash, including a pair of Top 5s.
Joey Logano ($9,400)
Logano's restrictor-plate resume continues to grow, and a win in the Clash could be next. He was the runner-up in the event last season, and he has a 3.8 average finish in his last four starts. Expect him to be in the mix for the win this weekend.