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The Fallout from the Clash at the Coliseum

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

On Saturday night, NASCAR held the season-opening Clash at the LA Coliseum, and there was a lot to talk about. Tempers were flaring, and there was plenty of bent sheet metal. Here is a breakdown of all of the major fallout from the Clash at the LA Coliseum

  • The Clash is a season-opening, non-points race featuring all NASCAR Cup Series teams. While it does not officially start the regular season, it does mark the beginning of the NASCAR Cup Series season.
  • This year’s race did not go as planned. With an ominous weather forecast, NASCAR had to get creative to get the race in. When the race did start, some drivers missed the main event, and what does the future of the Clash look like?
  • Fans had a myriad of opinions on plenty of topics. Where should the Clash be held in the future? Did NASCAR make the right move by moving the race up a day?

The Unusual Scheduling

Throughout the week leading up to the Clash, the forecast became more and more bleak. Heavy rain on Sunday went from a possibility to a probability, to virtually a guarantee. With warnings of “Life-threatening flooding” from the National Weather Service, NASCAR had to act.

On Saturday morning, NASCAR announced that they would adjust the schedule for the Clash. The heat races and last chance qualifier were cut from the schedule, and both the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Mexico Series race were moved from Sunday to Saturday. The starting lineup for the Clash would be determined by practice speeds.

The move was met with widespread applause from the garage, but, fans were a bit more split on the move because of how it affected ticket buyers for Sunday. However, as Sunday wore on, and the weather moved in, it became apparent that NASCAR made the right call. The only way to ensure the race was run to its’ scheduled distance was to run the race on Saturday night.

How Will NASCAR Accommodate Fans?

One of the major criticisms of NASCAR moving the race up was what would it do to fans. NASCAR would not even attempt to stage the event on the scheduled date at its’ scheduled time for fans who bought tickets. Admission on Saturday night was free anyway, so, fans who saw the Clash did not have to pay to see it.

Thankfully, NASCAR will contact fans about issuing refunds to fans who bought tickets for Sunday. According to the press release, Fans who purchased tickets through Ticketmaster or NASCAR along with parking through ParkWhiz will be refunded. For fans who purchased tickets on the secondary market, that will be up to their reseller.

This was a no-win scenario for NASCAR as running the race on its’ scheduled date at its’ scheduled time was not an option. Ultimately, the race was run, and there will be compensation for those who purchased tickets for Sunday.

Big Stars MISS the Show

The Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum is one of only 2 events all season long where a chartered entry can miss the main show. There were only 23 spots available, 22 based on speed and a provisional for the highest finisher in owner’s points the previous year not already qualified. Only Ryan Blaney was guaranteed a spot, and a few big names were left out.

Two Playoff contenders from the previous season did not qualify, Chris Buescher and Christopher Bell. Buscher has failed to make the main show any of the three years it’s been held at the Coliseum. Bell was especially puzzling given how fast teammates Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., and Ty Gibbs were during the race.

Four other previous Cup Series race winners failed to make the field, Daniel Suarez, Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, and Austin Cindric. Dillon finished 2nd at the Clash in 2023, so, missing was especially surprising for him. Suarez was able to redeem himself later that night by winning the NASCAR Mexico Series race held after the Clash.

Where Does the Clash Go From Here?

With 2024 being the last of a 3-year contract for the Clash at the LA Coliseum, fans and pundits alike are looking to the future of the event. Where could or should NASCAR hold the Clash in the future?

Should they go the traditionalist route and move the race back to Daytona as a part of Speedweeks? Is the best move to keep it at the Coliseum to make sure there is a presence in the LA market? Could local short tracks across the country host the race? Will NASCAR use this as an opportunity to go international?

Time will tell how everything works from here, but, the future of the Clash is bright yet unclear at the same time. There are plenty of exciting options that could take NASCAR to places it has never been before.

The Clash left us with plenty of questions about both the future of the event and decisions made by NASCAR. Some answers have been given, but, others have not yet been given.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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