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Who Could MISS The Clash at the LA Coliseum?

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North Carolina Moonshine and Motorsports Trail

What’s Happening?

The Clash at the LA Coliseum is coming up this weekend, and it is one of only two times all season (The All-Star Race being the other) that a chartered entry will miss the main event. Which drivers are the most in danger of missing the Clash at the LA Coliseum? Today, we take a look at the drivers most in danger of missing that race.

  • Only 23 drivers will race in the main event. Those who finish in the top 4 in the heat races, top 2 in the last chance qualifier, and the highest finisher in the 2023 standings amongst those not already qualified through the heats will race. As a result, the only driver guaranteed a starting spot on Sunday evening is Ryan Blaney, the 2023 Champion.
  • Some notable drivers have missed the main event in each of the last two seasons. Spire Motorsports and RFK Racing have both failed to qualify in each of the last two seasons.
  • Fans often have their own favorite driver to root for, but, some may not know that their driver may not make the big show. These are some of the drivers that fans could see off the grid on race day.

Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher: RFK Racing

RFK Racing has yet to make the main event at the Clash at the LA Coliseum. Keselowski and Buescher both did not make the race in each of the last two seasons. Now, both drivers finished in the top 8 in points in 2023, so, getting that final spot on the grid is easier than it was in past years, should they get to that point.

RFK seems more prepared to make this event than any year since the Clash was moved to the LA Coliseum. They are coming off their best season in over a decade, and they could parlay that into at the very least an appearance in the Clash at the Coliseum.

Kaz Grala: Rick Ware Racing

Kaz Grala will be fighting an uphill battle. He’s potentially one of the slowest cars on the grid, and that will make it tough for him to make the field. He also has no 2023 Cup Series points to back him up should he not qualify through the heat races.

It’s going to be tough, but, he does have Justin Haley alongside as a teammate. Haley started 3rd in the 2022 race, and he was in contention to win before crashing out. This is why Haley is not included on this list, but, it’s certainly possible that Haley could be left out.

Corey LaJoie, Zane Smith, and Carson Hovecar: Spire Motorsports

Spire Motorsports has failed to make the main event each of the past two seasons. Now, Spire has made some major improvements this offseason, but, Corey LaJoie only has a 26th-place finish in points to lean back on should he miss the main event through the heat races. If any of these drivers are eliminated through those, then they will likely not make the field.

Certainly, the improvements made in the offseason can show that Spire is getting a bit faster. However, making the jump from out of the field to in the field is a major jump, especially with a smaller field in 2024.

Harrison Burton: The Wood Brothers

Another driver who has failed to make the event each of the last two seasons and has a subpar points finish to fall back on. Things are not exactly looking up for Harrison Burton to make the main event in 2024.

Now, the alliance with Team Penske and a new crew chief could help him even though the Team Penske alliance did not help him make the main race in 2022 or 2023. Still, Burton may be a long shot just to make the race this weekend.

Michael McDowell and Todd Gilliland: Front Row Motorsports

Michael McDowell and Todd Gilliland did have solid seasons in 2023, but, both drivers ended up 15th or worse in the final standings. In the last two seasons, the 12th and 2nd place drivers have gotten that final spot on the grid. It’s not impossible for someone like McDowell to get that spot, but, it will be tough.

Both drivers missed the show in 2023 as well, so, the recent past is not on their side. McDowell did make the race in 2022, though, so, at least he has that experience.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr: JTG Daugherty Racing

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. made the race in 2022, but not in 2023. He did win the Daytona 500 two weeks after missing the Clash, but, he still finished 16th in the standings, last amongst Playoff drivers. The performance is suspect, and he does not have a good points finish on his side.

It’s certainly possible that Stenhouse can make the Clash, but, he’s not exactly known as a short-track ace. His prowess lies more so on superspeedways since that’s where all of his wins have come, so, this may not fit him well.

Josh Berry, Noah Gragson, Ryan Preece, and Chase Briscoe: Stewart-Haas Racing

A rebuilding organization with drivers all well below 20th in the season’s standings at best. If one of these drivers misses out on the heats, then good luck with making the field using the last points position.

Now, SHR did have some solid performances at tracks like Martinsville, which is about as similar to the LA Coliseum as you can get on the regular season schedule. Josh Berry cut his teeth on short tracks as well, so, this could sneakily play into SHR’s strengths. Still, it may be a tough go for the team.

Which drivers do you feel could miss the Clash at the Coliseum? Join the conversation on social media here.

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