NASCAR officially got back on track on Sunday.


And after a long offseason, there was plenty happening at Daytona International Speedway, both good and bad.


Let’s start with the good.


Ricky Stenhouse Jr., known for his aggressive ways on superspeedways, bolted to the Daytona 500 pole position Sunday in his No. 47 JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevrolet, a new ride for the veteran driver. Only he and Alex Bowman, who qualified second, know where they will start next Sunday’s race as the rest of the field will be determined via qualifying races on Thursday night.


Immediate success for Stenhouse, if only to start from the front in his first race with his new team, took most people by surprise. This season marks Stenhouse’s first at the Cup level apart from Roush Fenway Racing after the organization booted him from the No. 17 Ford for Chris Buescher, a 2016 Pocono Raceway winner.


Seeing the joy on Stenhouse’s face said it all. Stenhouse, along with crew chief Brian Pattie and team member Mike Kelley, all migrated to JTG-Daugherty as rejects from RFR.


“Any time you can start the season off, your first race with an organization, and to see all the work that they’ve put in,” Stenhouse said, “guys at the shop that I didn’t even know were working Saturdays and late nights all for the benefit of me to come down here and jump in this car and run fast.”


On Twitter, Kelley noted how much the pole meant to him and his team.


“Today was personal,” Kelley said. “Today was kinda (sic) emotional for (Stenhouse), Brian, myself and our families. A lot of people contributed to this, a lot. I couldn’t be more proud of EVERY employee of (JTG-Daugherty) it was a big day!”


That was the good.


Let‘s get to the bad, which was also the ugly.


The Busch Clash, a 75-lap exhibition race featuring 18 of the sport‘s biggest stars, started calm and finished in calamity.


After a mundane beginning, the first crash came when Joey Logano went to block Kyle Busch for the race lead in Turn 4. Busch was already to Logano‘s left, contact was made, and the duo crashed into the outside wall, collecting Logano’s teammate Brad Keselowski.


Keselowski was angry for the “dumb” moves made by his teammate and didn‘t hold his opinions back exiting the infield care center.


“You would think these guys would be smarter than that,” Keselowski said. “I get in wrecks all the time and I cause them, but the same one over and over again. It is the same thing. Somebody throws a stupid block that is never going to work, and wrecks half the field. Then goes, eh (shrugs).


”I don't know. Maybe we need to take the helmets and seatbelts out. Somebody will get hurt and then maybe they will stop driving like (expletive).”


The on-track carnage didn‘t stop there. On the ensuing restart, William Byron and Ryan Newman both spun their tires and crashed, collecting at least four others in the process.


The next time they tried to restart, Denny Hamlin found out he had a right-rear tire going flat entering Turn 3 and was unable to stop his car from spinning out, wiping out another eight cars. And again, on the ensuing restart, Chase Elliott made an aggressive move on Kyle Larson in Turn 3, dove to the inside too late, crashing both them and Erik Jones.


With just six cars left on track, one being the lapped- and damaged-machine of Hamlin, Jones was somehow able to wheel his destroyed No. 20 car to the front on the final lap and win the race, thanks in large part from the push he received from teammate Hamlin.


This was ugly.


NASCAR can get away with a race like this because it was an exhibition. People enjoy watching the thrill of potential danger, so for a race that didn‘t truly matter, this event made for good television.


But as a precursor to Speedweeks, with the Duel qualifying races on Thursday ahead of next week‘s Daytona 500, this was embarrassing.


I‘m not one to get worked up and think this will be what we’ll see for 200 laps next week. With 40 cars on track, a season ahead and a longer distance before the checkered flag, I expect to see more patience and discipline. There‘s no way a regular-season NASCAR Cup Series race can be that ugly again.


Right?