DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kevin Harvick has sounded his belief that the annual Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona Int’l Speedway, which features pole winners from the previous season, should be eliminated from the schedule going forward.
Harvick made the call for change Monday during his weekly Happy Hours program on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, in the wake of a rain- and crash-marred event which ended with a 17-car pileup and saw Jimmie Johnson survive the carnage to go to victory lane.
The 2014 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion noted that the current Clash format is markedly different than the layout of the inaugural race back in 1979, which featured a slim, nine-driver field.
“The Clash is one of those things that I think we could probably eliminate as we go forward and look at the new schedule,” Harvick said. “The reason I say that is because you’re trying to bring a lot of guys into the race.
“Originally when the Clash was brought about, it was about the pole winners and past winners of that particular race. They had a lot of guys that weren’t pole winners (in the field on Sunday). And you have guys in the playoffs that were in the race.”
This year’s Clash boasted a 20-driver field, with the previous season’s pole winners joined by past Clash winners, past Daytona 500 winners and polesitters, and the playoff drivers from the previous season.
Harvick’s idea to fix the perceived problem is to take the Clash’s purpose – rewarding pole winners – and combine it with the current All-Star Race format, offering one or potentially more spots in the field to Busch Pole Award winners from the previous season.
“To me, it would be good to combine with the All-Star Race,” noted Harvick. “Maybe you take two positions in the All-Star Race because you’re always on the edge of, ‘Is that enough cars? Is that not enough cars?’ But take the Clash away … make it a point race or make it one of the weekends we take off the schedule.”
Additionally, Harvick pointed out the cost of more than 20 crashed race cars as another reason to ax the Clash after this year’s running.
In addition to the race-ending 17-car crash on Sunday, four more cars were involved in a crash on the backstretch during Clash practice on Saturday.
“As we talk about money and saving team owners money, Joe Gibbs wrecked five cars,” said Harvick, who crashed in Clash practice and then again at the end of the race. “Three hundred thousand dollars per car adds up pretty quick.”
Johnson topped Sunday’s Clash after contact between he and Paul Menard in a battle for the lead resulted in the multi-car crash that collected most of the field in turn three.
A heavy rain shower moved into the Daytona Beach area minutes later, leading NASCAR officials to call the event after 59 of its scheduled 75 laps.
The late Dale Earnhardt is the all-time Clash wins leader, with six victories.