Dale Earnhardt Jr Demands Return of the Clash to Daytona, Trashes Haters Demanding End of 45-YO Tradition


DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – JANUARY 12: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, speaks to the Media during the NASCAR Next Gen Test at Daytona International Speedway on January 12, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)
Finally, NASCAR has got the ball moving by kicking off the 2024 schedule at the L.A. Coliseum. While the short-track action captivated the fandom, many other cooks spoiled the organization’s broth. If weather was one aspect that got the fandom riled up, there are other reasons why experts do not align with the authorities. Many in the industry have come out openly to slam NASCAR, and Dale Earnhardt Jr is the latest one to tear apart NASCAR’s Coliseum commitment.
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The 2-time Daytona 500 winner, much like most of the old-school fans, strongly believes that the Clash is too big of an event to be compressed into a quarter-mile track. For those who have missed NASCAR’s L.A. Coliseum, it was a mix of both worlds. While the fans felt betrayed when NASCAR moved up the race to Saturday, denying the mid-race concert by MGK, the older lot of the fandom never clearly liked the idea of racing the current Next-Gen cars on the shortest track of the schedule from day one.
“It doesn’t need to go back to Coliseum”- A strong condemnation
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Ever since NASCAR strayed away from Daytona, opting to hold the Clash, which is a historically significant race, at the Light Memorial Coliseum, ardent fans and veterans have been up in arms, voicing their displeasure with the organization for breaking away from tradition.
Originally, “The Clash,” as they’d call it, was a teaser for the fans, giving them an idea of what the whole season would be like held at the iconic Daytona International Speedway for as long as the community could remember until NASCAR decided to modernize it in 2022. Reflecting on the whole debacle, NASCAR veteran Dale Earnhardt Jr gave his expert opinion on the matter.
Briefly mentioning its historical significance, Junior started his take. He said, “It was a very short brief, short of a tease for the Daytona 500, and it fit in that space perfectly. It does not need to be more than that.” He then took a more blunt approach when he said, “I am of the opinion that it doesn’t need to be going around to all these other racetracks; it doesn’t need to go to Mexico; it doesn’t need to go to Canada; it doesn’t need to go back to the Coliseum.”
“It doesn’t need to go to your local short track or South Boston, or anywhere. It needs to go back to Daytona; it needs to be that tease; and it needs to be pole winners if it’s 12–14 cars; I do not care if it’s a 20-lap race and it lasts 15 minutes; I do not give a sh*t, alright?”, Dale Earnhardt Junior further added.
Brad Keselowski backs Dale Earnhardt Jr as he resonates with the veteran’s verdict
Every race has its place and has its significance, as Dale Jr briefly said, and so does “The Clash.” While it was originally intended to be a teaser for the upcoming season, NASCAR has turned it into a gimmick with a mid-race concert featuring pop icons, aiming to bring in young fans and expand its foothold. However, that clearly is not going in the organization’s favor, as only about 5000 people (as per Jeff Gluck’s numbers) were seen at the venue for Saturday’s exhibition race, despite the free entry.
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One of the strong reasons for this is the reluctance of traditional fans to catch the quarter-mile action who are so accustomed to witnessing the epic teaser at the 2.5-mile speedway that a mere short-track race isn’t enticing them anymore. And backing Dale Earnhardt Jr and his comments was RFK Racing co-owner and fellow Cup Series veteran champion, Brad Keselowski, who also shared his thoughts on social media.
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Keselowski, supporting Dale Earnhardt Jr in his tweet wrote, “I can get behind this. Back to Daytona, pole winners and Clash winners only. 90-minute race, invert at halfway with extra money if you can win both halves.” Now with this new development, the industry’s opinions are loud and clear. But will NASCAR make the necessary changes and get the season-opener back to Daytona? Only time will tell.
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