Hot 20 – Sunday’s Clash to feature 17 drivers representing 12 championships and 332 Cup wins

The new pre-season opens this Sunday, as those who made last season’s Playoffs or claimed a pole, who has ever claimed a Daytona 500 pole, or who has ever won this event in the past dust off the cobwebs and rev the engines. Now, you may be asking yourself how could this be a “Hot 20″ column with only 17 drivers competing? Well, you have to improvise.

Martin Truex Jr.
Won three poles in 2017. He also picked up a ring at a dinner after the season.

Kyle Busch
Won eight poles in 2017, which seems rather greedy to me.

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Kevin Harvick
Keelan is now 5-and-a-half. His NASCAR debut is still at least 15 years away.

Brad Keselowski
Brad has a ring. Kevin has a ring. Kyle has a ring. Martin has a newer ring. Notice a theme?

Chase Elliott
Won nothing last year, except one pole and the hearts of fans looking for a new Pied Piper.

Denny Hamlin
You would have thought that with his last name, Denny would have been the new Pied Piper.

Kyle Larson
You can never have too many Kyles.

Ryan Blaney
…or Ryans.

Jimmie Johnson
Give me a moment and I might come up with a reason he is here. Maybe seven of them.

Austin Dillon
All hat and maybe a few cattle.

Jamie McMurray
Dimples are considered the cutest deformity ever. Jamie has them. So does Duchess Kate.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Available. Need I say more?

Kurt Busch
Another season where all the excitement comes on the track.

Kasey Kahne
New team, a new look.

Ryan Newman
Fortunate that races can be won by a nose, but never by a neck.

Joey Logano
Was encumbered by a win that did not count and a playoff that was not to be.

Erik Jones
Turns 22 in May. Old bastard. He is the last on this list who will be in Sunday’s event.

Matt Kenseth
Had the talent to continue, just not the charisma apparently, so he won’t be driving.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Has the charisma, but to avoid a possible clash at home, he is avoiding the Clash at Daytona.

Mae Thornton
Tied for 20th with the rest of us, my late mother also failed to qualify for the Clash.

As I said…you improvise.

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