Sunday, February 10, 2019

PixelatedPICK: The 2019 Clash at Daytona

Team Penske driver Joey Logano during practice for the 59th Annual DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Chris Graythen/ Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (February 10, 2019) -- NASCAR racing is back for the 2019 season. To kick off the season, a selection of some of the best in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will take to battle in an exhibition shootout known as The Clash.

Officially the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona, this race serves as the traditional start of the NASCAR racing season. There are no points up for grabs, only cash and prestige. So basically, bragging rights.

The format has varied over the years, however the basic premise it that The Clash is a shootout style race putting the pole winners from the previous year against each other. In recent years, the eligibility rules have been expanded to allow championship contenders to participate, providing a fuller field of competitors.

The 2017-2018 rules were slightly revised ahead of the 2019 Clash, allowing drivers who were 2018 Busch Pole Award winners, former Clash winners who competed full-time in 2018, former Daytona 500 champions who competed full-time in 2018, former Daytona 500 pole winners who competed full-time in 2018, and drivers who qualified for the 2018 Cup Series playoffs full-time to all be eligible to race in the Clash.

For this year’s incarnation, I’m sticking close to the current trends I’m seeing at Daytona. Last year, Brad Keselowski found his way to the top, winning in his Team Penske Ford. Keselowski, and the entire Team Penske ensemble proved to be very competitive throughout Speedweeks, and all four visits to restrictor plate events in the 2018 season.

Keeping it in the Team Penske family, the first PixelatedPICK of the 2019 season goes to 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Joey Logano.

Logano was fast in practice, posting a speed of 196.786 during the first session, topping the chart.

He won this race in 2017 and was runner-up in 2016 and 2017. To say that Logano has been really good in Daytona recently is an understatement. While the Chevy’s from Hendrick Motorsports dominated Daytona 500 qualifying, the new Ford Mustang’s have been very solid all weekend long and look to continue being strong as the start of the season kicks off.

Logano seems very focused on what lays ahead, and does not seem to be encumbered by his recent successes.

“As far as I’m concerned we are past champions now,” said Logano. “It’s cool to be a champion, but now we’re back to zero, just like everyone else. We’re looking to get back to work and have some fun.”

Logano starts seventh in this year’s Clash.

Starting Lineup for the 2019 Clash at Daytona:

1. Paul Menard
2. Kyle Busch
3. Brad Keselowski
4. Ryan Newman
5. Alex Bowman
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Joey Logano
8. Ryan Blaney
9. Austin Dillon
10. Daniel Suarez
11. Jamie McMurray
12. Martin Truex Jr.
13. Jimmie Johnson
14. Kyle Larson
15. Clint Bowyer
16. *Chase Elliott
17. *Denny Hamlin
18. Aric Almirola
19. Kurt Busch
20. Erik Jones

* Will go to the rear of the field in a backup car.

The PixelatedPICK is a featured column of PixelatedSPEED showcasing the pick to win the race of the week. Usually centered on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the PixelatedPICK may also feature special events throughout the racing world. Readers are encouraged to share who they think will will the race in the comments section!

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