For the second time in his career, Joey Logano won the season opening Busch Clash. This was also the premier race for the new Next Gen car with a composite body and vendor-supplied parts.
The race bode well for Logano and Kyle Busch as they were the two dominant drivers. Of course this was short track racing at its finest and what happens on the high banks of Daytona or the multiple 1.5 milers remains to be seen. Although the car seemed to do well with all the beating and banging, drive train issues popped up on a couple of cars and that will have to be investigated to see if it could be a more long-term problem teams will have top face of if it was just one of those things.
Some highlights for me:
The race and the cars:
The race had a lot of pushing and shoving and trading paint. And yes, it is a small sample selection. What you didn’t see was cars needing to have their front end replaced or side panels hanging off. That could mean that more drivers with body damage may be able to continue a race rather than being sent home. So if you like short track racing and everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) that goes with it, you should be a happy customer if this race was any indication of things to come.
The drivers and teams:
You didn’t get to see anything in the way of how pit stops will be affected with all of the new aspects of the Next Gen car. A lot of young drivers made some noise. I don’t know if it was the short track, comfort with the Next Gen car or a combo platter. But if any of that translates to the regular season, we are in for a show. Or perhaps it was a fluke, meant nothing and we’ll have another year of the usual suspects winning races.
Austin Dillon ran a very strong P3. He was aggressive and had a lot of speed.
Justin Haley (P19) had a super race and while he may not have won I think he would have been in the Top 5 for sure. Sadly he got the worst of Kyle Larson.
Tyler Reddick (P21) also had a great car but wound up with an early mechanical issue.
Kyle Larson (P5) had a fast car but lost momentum after racing hard and fast. He had that issue from time to time last year as well. OK, OK, he won the title. Just saying that is something to watch in 2022.
Cole Custer (P7) ran a good race and did Christopher Bell (P8). Young guns.
Erik Jones (P4) had a good start for his new Petty team – or whatever name that has morphed into again.
AJ Allmendinger (P9) saw a lot of action in his heat race and I thought he might have more for the Clash but starting 16th and moving up to a Top 10 wasn’t bad for the part time Dinger.
Harrison Burton started 22nd and ended P12, so not a bad start for the rookie.
Chase Briscoe and Ty Dillon also had good heat runs but missed the Main.
Several top drivers missed out due to poor heat race finishes which in itself isn’t that big of a deal. The new format, the new car, an unfamiliar track and aggressive driving all added up to that. I fully expect to see plenty of Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman and Brad Keselowski.
That’s it race fans, welcome back! Grab your scorecard so you can keep track of who your favorite driver is racing for this year. And as always, drive fast, turn left and keep the shiny side up.
Leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below!