2018 Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona Preview

Feb 7, 2018 by Nascar Wagers

2018 Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona Preview

2018 Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona Preview
by Jay Horne of NASCARWagers.com, NASCAR Handicapping Service

On Sunday, NASCAR returns to action for the unofficial start of the season in the Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona International Speedway. An All-Star caliber lineup from the elite drivers in the Monster Energy Cup Series will give us our first taste of racing action this weekend. Of course Sunday will be a double header event as the Clash immediately follows qualifying for the 60th running of the Daytona 500. Here is everything you need to know for the 2018 Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona including participating drivers, odds, and more:

Clash Entry List:  
#1 Jamie McMurray Cessna Chevrolet
#2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Ford
#3 Austin Dillon DOW Chevrolet
#4 Kevin Harvick Busch Beer Ford
#9 Chase Elliott Mountain Dew Chevrolet
#11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota
#12 Ryan Blaney Menards Ford
#17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Fastenal Ford
#18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Toyota
#20 Erik Jones Circle K Toyota
#22 Joey Logano Pennzoil Ford
#31 Ryan Newman Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet
#41 Kurt Busch Monster Energy Ford
#42 Kyle Larson DC Solar Chevrolet
#48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s Chevrolet
#78 Martin Truex Jr 5-Hour Energy Toyota
#95 Kasey Kahne Procore Chevrolet

The Advance Auto Parts Clash will feature 17 drivers that are eligible based on pole winners from 2017, former Clash winners, former Daytona 500 pole winners, and playoff drivers from the 2017 season. Based on the criteria alone, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Matt Kenseth, and Danica Patrick are also eligible to participate. However as we all know, Kenseth and Earnhardt announced their retirements last year. Additionally, Danica Patrick will only be participating in the Daytona 500 this season after losing her ride with Stewart-Haas Racing.

As a result, this race has an “All-Star” feel as it features the best drivers in the Cup Series. For the race itself, it will feature 75 laps broken down into two segments. The first segment will feature 25 laps, followed by a competition caution, and then a final 50 lap segment. The current pit window for Cup Series cars at Daytona is approximately 45-48 laps under green flag conditions meaning teams will likely need a pit stop unless there are multiple cautions during the final segment. Pit road efficiency and mistakes could be critical at the start of the season as NASCAR moves to just 5 guys over the wall (previously 6). One of the changes I find most compelling for the 2018 season is that all teams will be forced to use the same pit guns. In recent years, Joe Gibbs Racing teams introduced a new version of pit guns that seemingly gave their teams an advantage and there has been a lot of behind the scenes controversy surrounding pit road equipment. NASCAR made changes this offseason to mandate common pit guns for all teams to put more of the athletic factor back into team performance on pit road. Therefore, I believe we should give some focus to pit performance at the start of this season to see if any noticeable changes unfold.

From an expectations standpoint, it’s hard to predict any restrictor plate event. However, historically this race has been a lot tamer than the Daytona 500 or the Coke Zero 400 races at Daytona. Obviously a smaller field helps prevent chaos and perhaps the level of talent helps matters as well. I don’t want to make this race sound like an advantageous spot for sports bettors because you already know my pessimism for early season betting at Daytona. Still, there are opportunities towards cashing a winning ticket that will still provoke betting action. If you are looking for a place to get in on the action for the upcoming Daytona races, then consider 5Dimes as they always have the best odds for NASCAR.

If I had to provide my best drivers based on current odds, I would have to suggest picking up Kevin Harvick +1150 and Denny Hamlin +850. Outside of Keselowski, Hamlin is probably the best restrictor plate driver in the field and he is traditionally better at Daytona. Hamlin has won 2 of the last 4 Clashes at Daytona and let’s not forget his 2016 Daytona 500 recently as well. If you are looking for slightly better odds, I really like Kevin Harvick as a 2nd tier dark horse. These smaller field races like the Clash and the All-Star seem to be a perfect fit for Kevin Harvick’s style. Harvick has won the Clash on 3 different occasions with the latest victory in 2013. Another reason I like Harvick is because the Fords performed very well at the plate races in 2017. Ford won all 4 restrictor plate racese last year and even 5 if you count Joey Logano’s win in the Clash. If that trend continues, Harvick is one of the drivers I want on my roster!

Advance Auto Parts Clash at Daytona Race Info:

TV: Fox Sports 1
Time: 3:00 PM EST

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