NASCAR’s ‘Clash’ Is Killing the Sport’s Presence in the 24 Hours of Daytona
NASCAR drivers are notably absent from this year’s 24 Hours of Daytona preliminary entry list, and the Clash at the Coliseum could be to blame.
NASCAR and the sportscar world have aligned for decades for the endurance event. However, it appears NASCAR’s pre-season race moving from Daytona to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum could be keeping stock car stars from showcasing their road-course abilities.
Part of the issue is likely logistics. Daytona International Speedway served as the home of the Clash for decades during Daytona Speedweeks. The track is far closer to most teams’ home bases in the southeast than L.A. Another problem is timing. This year’s Clash takes place Feb. 4. The 24 Hours of Daytona ends its day-long assault on the high banks and infield course of Daytona on Sunday, Jan. 28, just a week prior. Previously, the events were more spread out. The 2019 24 Hours of Daytona began Jan. 26 with the Clash not occurring until 15 days later. As such, it may simply be too quick of a turnaround for drivers, who have a myriad of pre-race commitments leading up to any event, to compete in the endurance race before flying out to the Golden State.
As of this writing, no former or current NASCAR drivers have been named to a team for this year’s 24 Hours of Daytona, according to preliminary entry list from Motorsport.com.
Only a few drivers have competed in the 24 Hours since the Clash moved cross-country to L.A. Austin Cindric was the only full-time Cup Series driver to race the past two seasons. Cindric drove for Rick Ware Racing, which also competes in Cup, in the LMP2 Class last year. The No. 51 team placed 12th overall.
Jimmie Johnson raced in the 2022 event with the Action Express DPi team and placed third overall.
Compared to years prior, NASCAR flavor has been all but missing at the 24 Hours since the Clash went west.
NASCAR driver entries in the 2021 24 Hours included Chase Elliott, Jimmie Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya, AJ Allmendinger, Cody Ware and Austin Dillon. Montoya, Allmendinger and Kyle Busch earned rides for the 2020 endurance race. Ware withdrew.
Past competitors some other examples of NASCAR’s biggest names, including Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick, Rusty Wallace and others. Allmendinger has competed in several 24 Hours events. He captured the overall win with Meyer Shank Racing in 2012.
The full entry list for this month’s 24 Hours of Daytona isn’t finalized, so there is a chance some NASCAR drivers could find rides for this year’s event. However, spots are certainly at a premium with under two weeks to go before the green flag.
NASCAR will have a presence at Daytona’s sportscar events leading up to the 24 Hours, however.
Bubba Wallace, John Hunter Nemechek and Cory Heim will compete in the No. 23 Toyota GR Supra GT4 EVO in the BMW M Endurance Challenge of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge on Jan. 26.
Wallace returns to 23XI Racing this year with Nemechek piloting the No. 42 of Legacy Motor Club. Heim returns to the Craftsman Truck Series full time in 2024. He will also run a part-time Xfinity schedule with Sam Hunt Racing.