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Should the LA Coliseum Be a Points Race in 2024?

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Joshua Lipowski

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The 2024 NASCAR schedule is still a few weeks away from being released, and one sticking point is the LA Coliseum. With the lack of Auto Club Speedway on the 2024 schedule, some have pointed to the LA Coliseum becoming a points race as an idea for a replacement. Let’s ask one simple question, could it happen, and if they can make it happen, should it happen?

Could it Actually Happen?

If the Clash at the LA Coliseum were to actually happen, NASCAR would need to consider multiple factors. First being, how would they score the race points-wise?

Every race has at least 36 chartered teams, which are guaranteed a starting spot, but, fitting 36 cars on a 0.25 mile track around a football field is just asking for trouble. NASCAR would have to decrease the field size to make this event actually run without cars tripping all over each other. Even having 27 cars in the main event this year seemed to be a bit much.

Now, what NASCAR could decide to do is hold time trials, and whoever is in the top 4 open cars plus the 36 chartered teams, assuming there are more than 40 entries, is guaranteed to score points during the event just like a normal race. The ones who make the main event are given points based on what position they finish in the main event. Those who are not in the main event earn points all the way down to 40th based on either time trial speed or finishing position in the heats.

One thing NASCAR cannot do is run the race like a normal points race. With no actual pit road, there could be no green flag pit stops with changing tires, so, they have to keep the “Saturday Night” short track format. NASCAR could choose to lengthen the race by adding an extra break to allow teams to change tires, but that could bog down the event some.

The other issue to consider is the time of year. The reason that February works is because there are very few concerts that time of year, and there are no USC football games. The event would probably have to stay in the early part of the season, and putting it in the second race of the season where Auto Club usually slotted could work.

Long story short, the race could happen, but it would take some major rule-bending. It would be unlike any regular season NASCAR race ever run, and that poses the second question. As Dr. Ian Malcom would say, maybe some are “So preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should”.

Should it Actually Happen?

NASCAR is in a difficult situation. They are left without an easy solution to not having a points race in Southern California on the schedule. It may look to many that NASCAR has little choice but to make it a points race.

However, there is also another side of the argument to consider. In 2023, NASCAR had the LA Coliseum and Auto Club only three weeks apart on the schedule, which means that NASCAR had two races in the Los Angeles area. With the success of the event at Pocono Raceway a few weeks ago, we posed the question about the value of race tracks having only one race date.

The same sort of argument can be had about markets. Having just the LA Coliseum be its’ own thing with no other races in the area could increase the value of that preseason event. It is only a temporary fix, sure, but that is all it is meant to be. Until NASCAR can find a better solution in the Los Angeles area, having only one race there could make it special.

There is also the issue of fan and driver reaction. The inspiration for this piece was Black Flag’s Matter’s video on the Clash at the Coliseum, and he took a look at all of the negative reactions from fans and drivers about making it a points race.

It’s safe to say that making the Clash at the Coliseum a points race would be polarizing at best, but it would likely be panned by many in the fanbase or the garage. There are a lot of things working against making the LA Coliseum a points race, but, is not having a race in Southern California in 2024 enough to push NASCAR to make that potentially unpopular decision?

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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