NASCAR’s Coliseum Gamble was a Successby Jack Gaffney February 7, 2022 0 comments
There was some skepticism when NASCAR announced that they would be moving ‘The Clash’ from Daytona to L.A. Coliseum. A race that has only ever been held at NASCAR’s premier track, moving to the west coast, and not even that, to a football stadium? After Sunday, any concerns that fans had should have been put to rest. NASCAR’s first stadium race since the 1950s was a resounding success with a fresh format, actual stakes, and a great atmosphere.
Be sure to keep up with all of our NASCAR coverage.
Crank Up the Heat
Easily the best part of the heat race implication was that a handful of notable drivers had the chance to not qualify straight through. As expected, that did end up being the case. Former champions like Martin Truex Jr, Kurt Busch, and Brad Keselowski all were forced into the pair of Last Chance Qualifier races. Additionally, the latter two missed out on the 150 lap feature entirely, and Truex only made it on a points provisional. Having real tension/stakes for an event such as the Clash made it a much better viewing experience.
What ended up being surprising was how clean the racing was before the 150 lap feature. There were very few cautions, and only the final LCQ could be considered a ‘wreck fest’ of the opening six races. The main incident was Austin Cindric pinballing Bubba Wallace into Busch, which took out the latter. Then Wallace goes into Cindric in the ensuing run. Also, caution laps not counting especially in these opening races was a great call.
Breaking the Ice (Cube)
If you told me Ice Cube would be doing a mid-race concert at a NASCAR race inside L.A. Coliseum 15 years ago, I’d call you crazy. Not something that was on the 2022 bingo card, but by all accounts, this was a nice addition to the exhibition event. A nice change of pace from [insert country music act here] for most concert appearances in recent years for NASCAR.
Joey Logano has racked up another big ‘first’ win to his resume. Last year he won the NASCAR Cup Series’ first dirt race in over a half-century at Bristol. This year he wins NASCAR’s first race inside a football stadium in nearly 70 years. Down the stretch, it looked like pole winner Kyle Busch was going to get by Logano for the win, but the No. 18 Camry was too used up to make anything happen. Once he got close, Busch had run out of corner exit grip and that sealed the deal for Logano. For the 2018 Champion, this is his second Clash win. Only Logano and Denny Hamlin have won the preseason race more than once in the last decade.
How does NASCAR Improve on The Clash?
As a whole, there was not much to complain about with this new format. However, that doesn’t mean some fine-tuning still isn’t in order. 150 laps for the Clash itself felt a tad short, adding an extra 50 laps if they stay in Los Angeles for next year would be a good sweet spot. The main attraction wouldn’t be too short, but not long enough to where things can potentially get boring. Another change would maybe be a slightly later start time. The race being on the west coast complicates this a tad, but starting everything maybe an hour to an hour and a half later would be nice. Outside of that, NASCAR has themselves something good here, which is not something you can say for them all the time, so give credit where credit is due.
Follow Jack Gaffney on Twitter @JackGaffneyPTST
Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images