“I Ain’t Going Down There” – Kaulig Racing Insider Hopeful Of The Clash’s Daytona Return, Cites NASCAR’s North Wilkesboro Example

Published 02/06/2024, 5:37 AM EST

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USA Today via Reuters

This year, the Clash at the Coliseum event was handled rather haphazardly and through no fault of NASCAR. The main race was scheduled to take place on Sunday and the organizers had a slew of entertainment events planned before the race. However, with rain playing spoilsport, everything had to be done on Saturday and a lot of what was planned had to be canceled. It left a bad taste in a lot of fans’ and insiders’ mouths, one of whom called for the pre-season race to be shifted back to Daytona.

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The Clash event was first started in 1979 as a precursor to the Cup Series season. It was always going to be an exhibition race and for more than 40 years, the Daytona International Speedway was its home. It was only in 2022 that the event was moved to the LA Coliseum. While the first Clash at the Coliseum was a success, the next two have failed to live up to expectations.

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Speaking on the recent episode of the Door Bumper Clear podcast, Justin Haley’s crew chief at Kaulig Racing, Brett Griffin, said that it would make more sense for NASCAR now to shift the Clash back to the Daytona International Speedway. With everything that went down with the rain forecast, Griffin could not help but reminisce about the time the pre-season exhibition was held at the iconic track.

“Just watching this race in general, I was a big fan of this race moving to LA for year one. I mean all 3 of us were there, we talked about it on this show how great the vibe was, how great the energy was, how we saw new fans in the stands, and for whatever reason, the buzzkill kind of came in last year and obviously this year with the weather and everything else. It was a complete buzzkill…I was really missing the good ol’ Clash from Daytona,” he said.

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He then cited the example of the North Wilkesboro Motor Speedway to show that NASCAR has gone back to older venues before and it has been a success. The historical race track was shut down for four decades before it was re-opened thanks to NASCAR, and things went well. 

Griffin wants the organizers to do something similar, re-instate the Clash back to Daytona as he believes that it would be a success. There were some rumors about the event being moved to Mexico and the Kaulig Racing insider was having absolutely none of that, which was surprising. 

“We’ve seen races leave places before. We saw Darlington lose the Southern 500. We saw North Wilkesboro close down for 40 years, we’ve seen NASCAR come back and make it right. I really hope when they revisit what to do with this race, they put it back where it started which is at Daytona with polesitters. And man that Guadalajara and Mexico City rumor that I saw, god bless you all and have fun but I ain’t going down there,” the motorsports veteran added.

The NASCAR veteran also revealed why instead of moving the Clash event to mid-week when fans could have experienced the two-day extravaganza planned, the organizers decided to cancel performances and do away with everything related to racing in just one day.

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Why did the organizers not postpone the rain-marred event to mid-week?

Griffin said that it was not impossible. Some people, most probably executives, told the Kaulig Racing insider that they would have to cancel the event if not held on Saturday. However, the Door Bumper Clear co-host simply didn’t think the reasoning was good enough. According to him, NASCAR decided to do the Clash event on a single day due to the pressure that the upcoming Daytona 500 has imposed on everyone involved with the sport.

“NASCAR, they didn’t really have a choice here but I was disagreeing with some people saying, ‘If we don’t run the race now, we’re gonna have to cancel it’. NASCAR has, in my lifetime, never canceled a race. Now we postponed a few, even postponed one from September all the way to Thanksgiving weekend but we have never not been able to run a race. So could they have stuck around there and done it on Wednesday, or Thursday? Yes. Would that have been ideal? Absolutely not. Not with all you guys have, trying to get ready for Daytona,” he explained.

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While the spotter has raised several good points, it is unlikely that NASCAR will change the venue of the Clash anytime soon. Would you like to see the pre-season exhibition race back at the Daytona International Speedway? Let us know your thoughts.

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Written by:

Nilavro Ghosh

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Nilavro Ghosh is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports, where he is known for his creative yet easy-to-read writing style. Before taking up his role as a sports journalist at ES, Nilavro has written for some of the top publishing houses, like The Telegraph. While most journalists stop at covering live events and taking the news to the readers, Nilavro goes the extra mile to give fans a platform for them to express their thoughts through his 'race reaction' pieces.
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Edited by:

Ariva Debnath

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