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Can We Learn Anything At All from the Clash at the Coliseum?

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

NASCAR opens the season this weekend with the exhibition Clash at the LA Coliseum. This race has no bearing on the standings, and the Cup Series never goes to a track this short during the regular season. However, in the last two seasons, the winners of this race have gone on to have great seasons. With that in mind, is there anything that fans can learn about the 2024 season after the Clash?

  • The Clash has been a part of the NASCAR schedule since 1979. Originally, it was a 20-lap sprint race featuring the previous season’s pole winners as a part of Speedweeks at Daytona.
  • The LA Coliseum has held the Clash since 2022. It was the first time in decades that NASCAR held a race in a football stadium.
  • Fans are excited that racing is back this weekend, but few fans put much stock in this race. It’s an exhibition race on a track NASCAR does not visit again during the season.

A Look at the 2022 Clash

The 2022 Clash was the first race at the LA Coliseum. Joey Logano won the race, and he went on to win the NASCAR Cup Series Championship. The driver who finished 2nd was Kyle Busch, and he was eliminated in the Round of 16.

There were a few drivers who had great seasons in 2022 that did not perform well in the Clash. Championship 4 contender Ross Chastain did not even qualify for the main event. Denny Hamlin, Chase Briscoe, and Tyler Reddick all won races in 2022 but they failed to finish the Clash.

Some drivers performed well in the Clash, but they did not perform as well during the regular season. A.J. Allmendinger, Cole Custer, and Erik Jones all missed the Playoffs but they finished in the top 10 in the Clash.

A Look at the 2023 Clash

The 2022 Clash was overall not a perfect representation of how the 2022 season played out, but, was 2023 any different? Martin Truex Jr. won the race, and he went on to win the Regular Season Championship. Austin Dillon finished 2nd, and he finished 29th in the 2023 standings.

Just like the 2023 Clash, some who performed well during the season struggled in the Clash. The notable absentees were the two RFK drivers, Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher, who failed to make the field. Michael McDowell, who made the Playoffs, failed to finish, and the future Champion Ryan Blaney finished 17th. William Byron, who went on to win 6 races, finished a pedestrian 10th.

Of those who finished in the top 10, 3 of them failed to make the Playoffs. Dillon finished 2nd, Alex Bowman finished 4th, and Ryan Preece finished 7th. None of these drivers finished better than 20th in the points standings.

What Can We Learn?

Winning the season-opening Clash can only do positives for a race team. It gets their season off on the right foot, with a trophy, and each of the last two winners has parlayed that into a good season. However, there is not much of a notebook that teams can build off of this race.

At the end of the day, the LA Coliseum is nothing like any race track on the NASCAR schedule. It’s 0.25 miles with no banking, and it averages a lower speed than any other track on the schedule. This race will also use the 2023 short track rules package, which will not be used at any regular season races in 2024.

The 2024 Clash is being run on a track that no points race can be compared to. It is also using an outdated rules package that will never be used again after this race. What can teams bring from this race? Absolutely nothing.

There is not much that we can learn from the Clash at the LA Coliseum, but, that’s okay. This race is meant to be a fun exhibition to bring in new fans. However, running well can predicate a good season.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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