It’s a new season for NASCAR which kicks off this year, not in Daytona Beach but clear across the country in Los Angeles, California…in a football stadium!
The annual Busch Light Clash gets the season unofficially started in a historic event that will see 23 drivers take to a quarter mile track to battle it out for the first ever win at the legendary Memorial Coliseum.
Oh, and the drivers have a brand new car – the Next Gen (Generation) car!
Things get started on February 5 with some qualifying runs. Thirty-six drivers will attempt to qualify for The Clash, but only 23 of them will make it to the big race on Sunday night. The drivers will have two laps to run their fastest times.
At 71 degrees, the track is considered cold and the drivers are having trouble getting some heat in the tires.
Kurt Busch is the first driver on the track and sets the tone with a time of 14.437 seconds.
Cole Custer was the first driver to break the 14 second barrier with 13.953 seconds.
With a time of 13.745 seconds, Kyle Busch was the fastest driver in qualifying.
Before the main event, there will be four heat races. The top four drivers after qualifying will sit on the pole for their heat races. Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Justin Haley, and Joey Logano will each lead their group to the green.
The big day has finally arrived!!!
On a warm sunny afternoon, 36 NASCAR Cup Series drivers will attempt to race their way into the first race of the season – the Busch Light Clash. After four heat races, 23 drivers will run the 150 mile main event.
On Saturday night, the drivers made a two lap qualifying run with Kyle Busch putting his number 18 M&M’s car on the pole. Busch, will each sit on the pole of their heat race.
Nine drivers will run a 25 lap race in each of the heats; but only the top four drivers will move on to the main event. Once all four of the heat races have run, the drivers who did not place high enough to move on will split up to run two LCQ – Last Chance Qualifier – races for one last attempt to make it into the main event. A total of 23 cars will move on to the main event. Only the 2021 Cup Series champion Kyle Larson has a guaranteed spot in the main event.
The starting lineup for heat race number one:
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
Kyle Busch brings the field down for the green flag and edges out in front of Daniel Suarez for the lead. Drivers quickly get lined up in single file at the front of the field.
Lap four, Kyle Busch has the lead with Daniel Suarez in second; Denny Hamlin and Ricky Stenhouse Jr round out the drivers who will move on to the main event.
Lap six, Kyle Busch holds the lead with Daniel Suarez in second.
Lap nine, Ricky Stenhouse Jr passes Denny Hamlin for third; Hamlin is now the driver in the transfer spot.
Lap 13, Kyle Busch continues to lead the race with Daniel Suarez in second; Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Denny Hamlin complete the transfer drivers.
BJ McLeod in ninth place has already been lapped.
Lap 20, Ryan Blaney has passed Denny Hamlin for the final transfer spot.
Leading every lap, Kyle Busch wins the race with Daniel Suarez in second; Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Ryan Blaney round out the transfer drivers from heat number one.
The starting lineup for heat race number two:
Martin Truex, Jr
Tyler Reddick brings the field down for the green flag start of heat number two and gets out in front for the lead. Drivers het three wide across the track in a battle for one of the top four spots. Chase Briscoe started in seventh, but in just one lap he is in the last transfer spot in fourth.
Lap six, Tyler Reddick is way out in front; Bubba Wallace, Chase Briscoe, and Austin Dillon are the four transfer drivers.
Lap nine, Chase Briscoe passes Bubba Wallace for second. Briscoe is the only driver in the field who is shifting during the race.
Lap 12, Tyler Reddick has pulled out to a two second lead on Chase Briscoe; Bubba Wallace and Austin Dillon are the remaining transfer drivers.
Lap 16, Austin Dillon passes Bubba Wallace for third; Wallace is the final driver in a transfer spot.
Lap 19, Cole Custer battles bubba Wallace for fourth and takes the spot.
With a lead of nearly three seconds, Tyler Reddick wins the heat; Chase Briscoe, Austin Dillon, and Cole Custer round out the transfer drivers for heat number two.
The starting lineup for heat race number three:
Justin Haley brings the field down for the green flag start of heat number three and battles it out with Chase Elliott for the lead. Haley gets out in front with William Byron in second; Christopher Bell and Chase Elliott round out the transfer drivers.
Lap eight, seventh place driver Kevin Harvick passes Chris Buescher for sixth; but Buescher battles back to retake the spot.
Lap 14, Kevin Harvick and Chris Buescher continue to battle for sixth with Harvick finally taking the spot.
Lap 17, leader Justin Haley just set the fastest lap of the race.
Four to go, Justin Haley continues to lead the race with William Byron in second.
Justin Haley wins the heat with William Byron, Christopher Bell, and Chase Elliott all moving on to the main event.
The starting lineup for heat race number four:
Joey Logano brings the field down for the green flag start of heat number four with Kyle Larson alongside. Drivers in the back of the field are beating and banging on the starting lap.
Lap three, Joey Logano leads the race with Kyle Larson in second; Michael McDowell and Austin Cindric round out the transfer drivers.
Ty Dillon brings out the first caution on lap eight when his car loses power. Dillon is reporting a gear issue.
Only the green flag laps count in the heat races.
The “choose cone” in in play for the race. Before a restart, the drivers can choose whether or not they want to restart the race on the inside or outside.
Joey Logano brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap seven. And the battles begin.
Kurt Busch gets into the back of Landon Cassill and brings out the second caution of the race on lap 10.
Joey Logano brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 10. Logano holds on to the lead with Kyle Larson and Michael McDowell battling it out for second. McDowell gets around Larson for second; Erik Jones rounds out the transfer drivers.
Lap 14 Michael McDowell and Kyle Larson battle it out for second; Larson takes the spot.
With eight laps remaining in the heat, Joey Logano continues to lead the race; Kyle Larson, Michael McDowell, and Erik Jones round out the transfer drivers.
With three laps to go, Joey Logano has a lead of over a second on Kyle Larson.
Joey Logano wins heat number four; Kyle Larson, Michael McDowell, and Erik Jones are the final transfer drivers.
The 20 drivers who did not get a transfer spot will divide up into two groups for a last chance qualifier race and a last chance to make the main event.
The 23rd starting spot in the main event goes to the highest ranking past champion who has not qualified already for the main event. Martin Truex Jr is that driver and has elected to sit out his LCQ race and start the main event in last place. He was scheduled to start fifth in LCQ number two.
The starting lineup for the first LCQ race are:
The LCQ races are 50 laps each and only the top three drivers will move on to the 150 lap main event.
Denny Hamlin brings the field down for the green flag start of the race and gets out in front for the lead; Ross Chastain, AJ Allmendinger, Todd Gilliland, and Kevin Harvick round out the top five.
Lap three, drivers are already beating and banging for position.
Lap five, Denny Hamlin leads the race with Ross Chastain and AJ Allmendinger are in the transfer spot.
Aric Almirola and Todd Gilliland make contact sending Almirola into the wall and bringing out the caution flag. Again, only the green flag laps count.
Denny Hamlin brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap six and holds on to the lead with Ross Chastain and AJ Allmendinger as the three transfer drivers.
Lap eight, there are eight cars on the lead lap.
Lap nine, Kevin Harvick passes AJ Allmendinger for third and the final transfer spot.
Lap 12, Denny Hamlin has pulled out to a lead of over a second on Ross Chastain with Kevin Harvick in third.
BJ McLeod is off the track and Aric Almirola is out of the race.
Lap 16, Kevin Harvick passes Ross Chastain for second.
Lap 19, Denny Hamlin holds on to a lead of over a second on Kevin Harvick with Ross Chastain in the final transfer spot in third.
Lap 25, Devin Harvick is slowly closing in on leader Denny Hamlin with Ross Chastain over four seconds back in third.
Lap 29, AJ Allmendinger has caught up to third place driver Ross Chastain and is battling for third.
Lap 30, in a three way battle for third between Ross Chastain, Cody Ware, and AJ Allmendinger, Allmendinger takes third for the final transfer spot.
Lap 32, Denny Hamlin has pulled out to a lead of over two seconds on Kevin Harvick.
Out of the care center, Aric Almirola is fine.
Lap 35, Denny Hamlin has led every lap so far; Kevin Harvick is in second with AJ Allmendinger in third.
Just eight laps remain, Denny Hamlin has a lead of over a second on Kevin Harvick with AJ Allmendinger in third.
Denny Hamlin wins the race with Kevin Harvick in second and AJ Allmendinger in third. They will move on to the main event later in the day.
The starting lineup for LCQ number two:
Bubba Wallace brings the field down for the green flag start of the LCQ number two and edges out Austin Cindric for the lead. Lap three, the top three drivers are Bubba Wallace, Austin Cindric, and Alex Bowman.
Lap eight, Austin Cindric and Alex Bowman battle for second with Alex Bowman taking the spot and Kurt Busch in third for the last transfer spot. Austin Cindric falls to seventh place.
Lap 12, Alex Bowman and Kurt Busch battle for second with Bubba Wallace leading the race by a narrow margin.
Lap 15, Alex Bowman has caught up to leader Bubba Wallace with Kurt Busch right behind them.
Lap 17, contact on the track between Harrison Burton and Ryan Preece but the track stays green.
Lap 20, Bubba Wallace leads the race but Alex Bowman is on his bumper and working to make the pass. Kurt Busch is in third in the final transfer spot.
Lap 25, the caution flag comes out for contact between Harrison Burton and Ryan Preece. Alex Bowman was under Bubba’s rear quarter panel at the time of the caution flag.
Bubba Wallace brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 25 with Harrison Burton alongside. Wallace, Alex Bowman, and Kurt Busch all chose to restart the race on the inside lane.
Bubba Wallace brings the field down for the green flag restart and is immediately in a battle for the lead with Alex Bowman; Ty Dillon has the third place spot.
Lap 28, Alex Bowman takes the lead from Bubba Wallace but Bubba continues to battle for position.
Lap 30, Bubba Wallace retakes the lead with Kurt Busch in second. Alex Bowman drops to fifth place.
Lap 31, Kurt Busch gets around Bubba Wallace for the lead.
The caution flag comes out on lap 31 for contact between Ryan Preece and Landon Cassill; spinning Preece around.
Kurt Busch brings the field down for the green flag restart with team mate Bubba Wallace in second on lap 25. Drivers get three wide on the restart.
Kurt Busch takes the lead with Ty Dillon in second and Bubba Wallace in third.
NASCAR has determined that Ty Dillon jumped the restart and has to move to the back of the field.
With 14 laps to go, Kurt Busch leads the race with Bubba Wallace in second and Harrison Burton in third.
On a restart the lead driver controls the race start.
Ten to go, Kurt Busch has a lead of over two seconds on Bubba Wallace with Harrison Burotn in third.
The caution flag comes out after contact between Landon Cassill and Brad Keselowski.
Kurt Busch brings the field down for the green flag restart with just nine laps remaining in the race. Busch battles with Harrison Burton for the lead with Burton taking the lead.
The caution flag comes out for contact Ty Dillon and Brad Keselowski.
Taking the lead as the caution flag came out, Kurt Busch brings the field down for the green flag restart with just eight laps to go. In a three wide battle, Bubba Wallace takes the lead with Harrison Burton in second and Kurt Busch in third.
Five to go, Harrison Burton takes the lead.
The caution flag comes out for Kurt Busch getting into the wall after multiple car contact in a three wide battle. Kurt Busch is out of the race.
With just five laps to go, Harrison Burton brings the field down for the green flag restart. The caution flag comes out once again when Austin Cindric gets into the wall after contact with Bubba Wallace.
Alex Bowman is out of the race after an on track incident.
Once again Harrison Burton brings the field down for the green flag restart with Ty Dillon alongside.
Four to go, Harrison Burton leads the race with Ty Dillon in second and Ryan Preece in third.
Ty Dillon turns Harrison Burton around bringing out another caution flag.
Three to go, Ty Dillon brings the field down for the green flag; Ryan Preece takes second with Bubba Wallace in third.
After multiple caution flags, Ty Dillon wins the race with Ryan Preece in second and Bubba Wallace in third; moving on to the 150 lap main event.
After further review, NASCAR has removed Ty Dillon from the race after his second restart violation. As a result, Harrison Burton will be in the main event.
While the 23 drivers get themselves and their cars ready for the main event, Latin music star and co-owner of Trackhouse racing Pitbull puts on a show for the crowd.
The starting lineup for the 150 main event at The Clash:
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
Martin Truex Jr
Four time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, MLB pitcher Jim Abbott, Los Angeles Rams running back Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Raider Greg Townsend, beach volleyball champion Misty May-Trainor, and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, and running back Reggie Bush are the grand marshals for the race.
Holding one of the torches used during the Olympics at the Coliseum, Jeff Gordon symbolically lights the Olympic torch. Kareem Abdul Jabbar was also scheduled to be one of the grand marshals for the race but was not feeling well and stayed home.
It has been 50 years since NASCAR has raced on a quarter mile track, but tonight 23 drivers will run 150 green flag laps with no pit stops and a break at 75 laps.
Thanking NASCAR and Busch Light, driver Kevin Harvick called the event pretty spectacular.
With no room for a pit lane, the crew chiefs are sitting in the stands.
After winning the pole and leading every lap in his heat race, Kyle Busch brings the field to the green flag for the start of the race from the inside lane and battles with Tyler Reddick for the lead. Busch edges out to take the top spot.
Lap three, the top five are Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Justin Haley, Joey Logano, and Daniel Suarez.
Lap five, Tyler Reddick passes Kyle Busch to take the lead.
Lap eight, Tyler Reddick leads the race with Kyle Busch in second; Justin Haley, Joey Logano, and Daniel Suarez round out the top five.
Lap 10, Justin Haley challenges Kyle Busch for second, but Busch holds on to the spot.
Drivers are running laps of around 13.64 seconds. Leaders have already encountered slower traffic.
Lap 14, Tyler Reddick has a lead of over a second on Kyle Busch; Justin Haley, Joey Logano, and Daniel Suarez round out the top five.
Lap 18, leader Tyler Reddick passes Bubba Wallace to put him a lap down.
Lap 22, Tyler Reddick continues to lead the race with Kyle Busch in second; Justin Haley, Joey Logano, and Kyle Larson round out the top five.
Lap 27, 20th place driver Martin Truex Jr is the last car on the lead lap.
Lap 28, Kyle Busch has closed the gap on leader Tyler Reddick to under half a second.
Lap 40, Tyler Reddick continues to lead the race with Kyle Busch in second; Justin Haley, Joey Logano, and Kyle Larson round out the top five.
Lap 45, Tyler Reddick has increased his lead on Kyle Busch to over a second with 18 cars on the lead lap.
Lap 48, the top five are Tyler Reddick, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Justin Haley, and Kyle Larson. Harrison Burton is the last car on the lead lap in 17th.
The caution flag comes out on lap 53 for a spin involving Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Denny Hamlin brings his car to the infield for service. Denny Hamlin is out of the race with some mechanical issues – a power steering issue.
Chase Briscoe is off the track with a mechanical issue – he reports something in the drive line.
Race leader Tyler Reddick comes to a stop on the apron. He is also reporting some form of drive issue.
The smaller track is making it difficult for the cars to get enough air to cool off.
With only green flag laps counting, Kyle Busch brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 54 and takes the lead.
Lap 55, the top five are Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Justin Haley, and William Byron.
Lap 58, Justin Haley passes Kyle Larson for third.
Michael McDowell is the last car on the lead lap in 16th.
Lap 60, Kyle Busch has a lead of over a second on Joey Logano; Justin Haley, Kyle Larson, and William Byron round out the top five.
Lap 64, Joey Logano challenges Kyle Busch for the lead.
Chase Elliott brings out the second caution flag on lap 65 when he gets turned around and hits the wall.
Tyler Reddick reports that he thinks he broke the transaxle. Reddick says that he learned from the issue and won’t do it again.
Kyle Busch brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 66 and edges out Joey Logano to hold on to the lead; Justin Haley, William Byron, and Kyle Larson round out the top five
Lap 71, Kyle Busch hold the lead; Joey Logano, Justin Haley, William Byron, and Kyle Larson round out the top five.
Joey Logano passes Kyle Busch for the lead.
The caution flag comes out at the end of lap 75 for the mid-race break. Crews can make adjustments to the cars during the break.
Rapper Ice Cube entertains the crowd during the race break.
The cars are back on the track and ready to get going again. Kyle Busch brings the field down for the green flag restart on lap 76 and quickly get single file.
Lap 77, the top five are Kyle
It’s a new season for NASCAR which kicks off this year, not in Daytona Beach but clear across the country in Los Angeles, California…in a football stadium!