Clash at the Coliseum
By Cameron Richardson
5 Minute Read
Two restful, wintry months give way to the blossom of another NASCAR season. In its sophomore outing, the Busch Light Clash exhibition race returns to the famed Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in the heart of the City of Angels. Before the green flag drops Sunday (8 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), get the rundown of important info and trends to watch.
Team Penske’s Joey Logano went wire-to-wire last season, outdueling his competitors to win the inaugural Clash at the Coliseum in what kicked off the campaign to his second Cup Series championship. Of all active drivers, only he and Kyle Busch can boast their multi-championship feats in NASCAR’s premier series.
Speaking of Kyle Busch, the two-time champion announced his blockbuster move to Richard Childress Racing late in 2022, ending a 15-year run with Joe Gibbs Racing.
Other notable driver changes this season include Tyler Reddick going to 23XI Racing and Ryan Preece earning the call-up to Stewart-Haas Racing to pilot the No. 41 Ford.
Two high-profile rookies could make some serious noise in 2023 as Noah Gragson and 2022 Xfinity Series champion Ty Gibbs enter the Cup Series. Last year, the two combined for 15 wins, and while they likely will not hit that remarkable number this season, they should be in contention for a win or two at the bare minimum.
RELATED: Changes for 2023 season | 2023 schedule
As teams make the cross-country trek to the Golden State, anticipation builds for drivers, crew members and owners who strive for race wins and that coveted Cup Series trophy that will be awarded in November at Phoenix. The Clash not only allows everyone to knock off the rust from the time off but also to generate momentum in that hunt for the playoffs and a title. Just look at Logano last year who turned his Clash win into four victories and a second Bill France Cup to his mantle.
With a trip back to the iconic LA venue, it’s fitting that bragging rights aren’t just in order for the winner but for the top-three finishers as they will be awarded medals in a similar fashion to the Summer Olympics that were held inside the Coliseum in 1932 and 1984.
There’s a special aura that wraps itself around the Coliseum when competitors and fans alike enter through its iconic arches and tunnels. It’s the venue that held Super Bowl VII and where the 1972 Miami Dolphins became the first and only NFL franchise to achieve a perfect undefeated season. Perfection is what will be needed this weekend for a driver to take the checkered flag Sunday night and etch their name into Coliseum lore.
TRENDS TO WATCH
— The winner of the Busch Light Clash has gone on to win the championship in the same year eight times [Dale Earnhardt (4), Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Logano].
— Toyota has won six of the last 11 Busch Light Clash events.
— Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin lead all active drivers in Busch Light Clash wins with three each.
Saturday, Feb. 4
– Practice: 6 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
– Qualifying: 8:30 p.m. ET (Fox Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
Sunday. Feb. 5
– Qualifying heat races: 5 p.m. ET (FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
– Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum: 8 p.m. ET (FOX, MRN SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
MORE: Full Clash schedule
Single-car qualifying on Saturday will set the lineups for the four heat races that will consist of 25 laps each, only counting green-flag laps. The two LCQs will consist of 50 laps each, and the main event will be a 150-lap feature with a race break on Lap 75. The field for the main event increased to 27 cars, bumped up from 23 last year. The starting lineup will be based on results from the four heat races and the two Last-Chance Qualifier races, including a points provisional based on last year’s final standings.
GOODYEAR TIRE NOTES/RULE CHANGES
Cup teams will run the same tire setups as last year’s event. Each team will also have one set of tires for practice, one set for qualifying and three additional sets for the heats and main event. The left-side tire code is also the same one that was run twice last season at Martinsville Speedway.
A new addition to the rules for 2023 includes a wet-weather option in case conditions aren’t optimal for racing. Along with Sunday’s Clash, wet tires will be available at Martinsville, North Wilkesboro Speedway for All-Star Weekend, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Phoenix Raceway, Richmond Raceway, The Milwaukee Mile and Indianapolis Raceway Park.
MORE: See rules changes for 2023
Fans can get in on the action all season long with NASCAR Fan Rewards, a free program that rewards fans for participating in the action when they watch races and play NASCAR Fantasy.
There’s no cost to join. Fans must be 18 years or older to participate in the program.
Earn points by checking into a race from home or at the track, setting their Fantasy Live lineup, making purchases on the NASCAR.com shop and more. Points can be redeemed for race tickets, merchandise and VIP experiences at the track, including pace car rides and waiving the green flag at qualifying.
ALSO ON NASCAR.COM
Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week a select number of in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.
NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement in the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.