A new NASCAR Cup Series season is nearly upon us as its annual preseason exhibition returns to Southern California this weekend. The Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum will be run for the second straight year on the temporary quarter-mile track laid down over the pitch at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Originally contested as a pseudo All-Star race to launch Daytona Speedweeks in 1979, the event now serves as a preseason showcase open to all drivers and complete with musical performances and celebrity guests in the entertainment industry capital.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum:
Format for the Clash at the Coliseum
Each car entered will run three laps during Saturday’s qualifying — one warmup, two timed, with the best lap counting — that will set the starting grids for Sunday’s heat races. The overall fastest time will have the pole for Heat 1, the second fastest gets the pole for Heat 2, third fastest wins the pole for Heat 3 and the fourth-fastest time wins pole for Heat 4. The remaining starting spots for each race will follow that pattern.
Each heat race will be 25 laps of green-flag running (caution laps will not count this year) with the top five finishers in each automatically advancing to the main event. Everyone else will be split into two 50-lap “last-chance qualifier” races with the top-three finishers from each advancing into the main. The 27th and final starting spot for the main will be the highest points finisher from 2022 that has not yet advanced.
The main event, the Clash, will be a 150-lap race with just green-flag laps counting and the winner bringing home a purse of more than $2 million.
NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum weekend schedule
All times ETSaturday, Feb. 4Practice: 6 - 8 p.m. (FS1)Qualifying: 8:30 - 9:30 p.m. (FS1)
Sunday, Feb. 5Heat races: 5 - 6 p.m. (FOX)Last chance qualifiers: 6:10 - 6:50 p.m. (FOX)Busch Light Clash: 8 - 10 p.m. (FOX)
Top drivers and best bets for the Clash at the Coliseum
Defending series champion Joey Loganowon the only prior event on this track last year and is considered a favorite to repeat in the Clash. This being the shortest track the Cup cars run by a wide margin (the next-shortest is Virginia's Martinsville Speedway at just over half a mile), one would tend to favor drivers who excel on the short tracks. That logic is borne out in the betting lines at BetMGM as the six drivers with 10-to-1 or better odds all rank in the top 10 among active drivers on tracks shorter than one mile.
Best odds to win the Clash at the Coliseum:
Chase Elliott +800
Kyle Larson +800
Joey Logano +800
Kyle Busch +800
Christopher Bell +900
Ryan Blaney +1000
NASCAR Clash track profile and history
At a quarter mile with no true straightaways due to the usable space at the Coliseum, this temporary track is not only the shortest these cars run, but also the most unique. The shortness of the track and lack of banking (the corners are only 2.5 degrees compared to Martinsville's 12.5) puts the racing much more in the drivers' hands and nullifies any aero or horsepower advantage a certain team or manufacturer might have.
Prior to 2022, the Clash was run on the high banks (31 degrees) of the Daytona International Speedway. While restrictor plate racing requires a separate skill set and plenty of nerves, short-track racing is traditionally a more accurate test of a driver's skill and part of why NASCAR wants these showcase events on shorter courses — the midseason All-Star race will be at the .625-mile North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Celebrity involvement in the Clash at the Coliseum
Actor Rob Lowe will deliver the command to start engines for the Clash as the event's grand marshal while USC quarterback Caleb Williams is the honorary starter and will wave the green flag to begin the race. Southern California hip-hop icons Cypress Hill will perform between the last-chance qualifiers and the Clash, while Wiz Khalifa is set to perform at the feature's mid-race break.
Weather for the Clash at the Coliseum
The forecast calls for sunshine and a high of 71 degrees for qualifying on Saturday, while it will be overcast with a 42 percent chance of precipitation on Sunday. Cup cars are equipped to run in light rain and a damp track would certainly add a wild element to race day as last year's race run under sunshine already had its share of incidents with five caution flags over the 150 laps of the feature race.
Entry list for the Clash at the Coliseum
Ross Chastain (1), Trackhouse Racing ChevroletAustin Cindric (2), Team Penske FordAustin Dillon (3), Richard Childress Racing ChevroletKevin Harvick (4), Stewart-Haas Racing FordKyle Larson (5), Hendrick Motorsports ChevroletBrad Keselowski (6), RFK Racing FordCorey Lajoie (7), Spire Motorsports ChevroletKyle Busch (8), Richard Childress Racing ChevroletChase Elliott (9), Hendrick Motorsports ChevroletAric Almirola (10), Stewart-Haas Racing FordDenny Hamlin (11), Joe Gibbs Racing ToyotaRyan Blaney (12), Team Penske FordChase Briscoe (14), Stewart-Haas Racing FordJ.J. Yeley (15), Rick Ware Racing FordA.J. Allmendinger (16), Kaulig Racing ChevroletChris Buescher (17), RFK Racing FordMartin Truex Jr. (19), Joe Gibbs Racing ToyotaChristopher Bell (20), Joe Gibbs Racing ToyotaHarrison Burton (21), Wood Brothers Racing FordJoey Logano (22), Team Penske FordBubba Wallace (23), 23XI Racing ChevroletWilliam Byron (24), Hendrick Motorsports ChevroletJustin Haley (31), Kaulig Racing ChevroletMichael McDowell (34), Front Row Motorsports FordTodd Gilliland (38), Front Row Motorsports FordRyan Preece (41), Stewart-Haas Racing FordNoah Gragson (42), Legacy Motor Club ChevroletErik Jones (43), Legacy Motor Club ChevroletTyler Reddick (45), 23XI Racing ToyotaRicky Stenhouse Jr. (47), JTG Daugherty Racing ChevroletAlex Bowman (48), Hendrick Motorsports ChevroletTy Dillon (77), Spire Motorsports ChevroletB.J. McLeod (78), Live Fast Motorsports FordDaniel Suarez (99), Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet