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NASCAR Makes Major Changes to the Clash at the Coliseum

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

On Tuesday, NASCAR announced major changes to the format for the Clash at the LA Coliseum. The changes include downsizing the main event field, moving the Heat Races, and eliminating single-car qualifying. Let’s Break Down all of these changes.

  • Despite some changes, many things stay the same with this format. There will still be four heat races that are 25 laps each, and the main event will still be 150 laps.
  • The Clash is an exhibition race that has kicked off the season since Daytona took over as the season opener in 1982. It has been held at the LA Coliseum since 2022.
  • Fans are not too sure how they feel about this format. They are not sure about splitting the heat races off from the main event on Sunday.

Saturday: Qualifying and Heats

In previous years, practice and qualifying were the only two events held the Saturday before the main event. Now, single-car qualifying is gone in favor of multiple practice sessions and the heat races on Saturday.

Each driver will be split into three groups and get three practice sessions on Saturday. The fastest laps for each driver during the final practice session determine the lineup for the heat races. In previous years, drivers would do single-car qualifying after one practice session, similar to the format used at most other race tracks.

The heat races remain essentially the same. Each driver is placed in one of four 25-lap heat races, and the top 5 finishers in each heat get their spot locked in for Sunday, just like 2023. However, these races are now on Saturday night instead of before the main show on Sunday.

Sunday: Last Chance Qualifier

The race on Sunday is the exact same format, but, the Last Chance Qualifier has two major changes. First, instead of two 50-lap races, there will be one 75-lap race for every driver who failed to qualify on Saturday. Second, instead of the top 3 in each qualifier advancing, only the top 2 in this race will advance to the main show.

The 23 spot is reserved for the driver who finished best in the standings in 2023 of those who did not qualify. Martin Truex Jr. took this provisional in 2022, with Austin Cindric taking it in 2023.

With 23 spots available for 36 chartered teams, that means some will get left out. For example, RFK Racing was left out of the main event entirely in both 2022 and 2023. We could see a prominent driver or two left out of the field. Ryan Blaney is the only driver guaranteed to start the main event thanks to winning the 2023 Cup Seris Championship.

Field Size

With these new rules, the field size shrinks from 27 cars in 2023 to 23 cars in 2024. This is likely a reaction to the 16 caution flags during the race in 2023. Many attributed that caution total to there being too many cars on track.

In 2022, the race had 23 cars on track, and there were only 5 caution flags in the 150-lap main event. As a result, NASCAR went back to the original 23-driver format. For clarification, here is how each driver will qualify.

  • Positions 1-20: Top 5 drivers in each of the 4 heat races
  • Positions 21-22: Top 2 drivers in the Last Chance Qualifier.
  • Position 23: Highest Non-Qualified Driver in Cup Series points.

What do you think about the 2023 Clash at the Coliseum format? Did NASCAR hit on something or do they need to go back to the drawing board?

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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