When the calendar rolls over to 2020 this week, race fans know that the start of another NASCAR Cup Series season is only a few weeks away. It’s a long and grueling season that stretches from February to November but before the pressure of a points race, the series gets its season kicked started off with the Clash. The Clash started in 1979 with sponsorship from Busch beer and the two were linked together until the beginning of the 1998 season.

The event became known as the Busch Clash during those years but once the sponsorship deal ended, other sponsors came and went but the 2020 version of the event will once again be known as the Busch Clash. Busch Beer was recently announced as one of the four Premier Partners joining Coca-Cola, GEICO and Xfinity that will have the opportunity to promote their brands through multiple platforms in the sport. Busch’s sponsorship of the Clash brings the sport back to its roots as for years the two were highly identified with each other.

The green flag will wave for the Busch Clash on Feb. 9 at 3 p.m. as it will be the first of four checkered flags that will wave over the next week at Daytona International Speedway. The unique qualifying procedures used to set the field for the Daytona 500 includes two qualifying races known as the Duel’s that are held on Thursday of that week. Of course, the most prized checkered flag in the series is awarded just a few days later on Sunday when the season officially gets underway with the running of the Daytona 500.

This year’s edition of the 500 will be the last for the present car that is being used by Cup teams as the Next Gen car is expected to be introduced in the sport in 2021. The new car has already been tested at Richmond by Austin Dillon and at Phoenix by Joey Logano. The next schedule test is in January at the intermediate track at Homestead. The Next Gen car is reported to be less forgiving as what is presently being used which should come as good news as it would put more of the racing back into the hands of the drivers instead of the make of car. The sanctioning body has always done a good job of keeping the playing field level between Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet but each manufacturer has had years where they were dominating the competition as teams campaigning one particular model of car finds something that gives them just enough edge to dominate on race day. Manufacturers can fall behind in the sport and often times will continue to struggle until NASCAR either allows them to modify their present car or it introduces a new model to the series.

The competition between the three manufacturers is expensive and those cost trickle down to each team trying to compete in the sport. One of the goals of the Next Gen is to cut the cost of competing in the sport for not only the manufacturers but also for the individual teams as everyone will be racing the same car. Teams will no longer be forced to spend enormous amounts of money trying to get an advantage as one of the goals is to make teams profitable by having one body and one chassis.

The development of the car also has the fan in mind as it should have more of a stock car look to it. Although the final design of the car is yet to be determined, the car that has been tested has more of a stock look with its wheels and wheel wells as well as the side molding and hood design.

That is also good news for the manufacturers as they are in the sport to help them sale cars and fans want to buy cars that they see on the track.

Steve Mickey writes about NASCAR for HD Media.