While the Daytona 500 is still a few weeks out, the unofficial start to the 2022 NASCAR tilt begins this weekend. ‘The Clash’, a preseason staple since 1979 is this weekend. Additionally, this will be the first time a NASCAR race will take place in a stadium since 1956. As the event is moving away from Daytona and is taking place inside the famed Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. With a new venue, and by extension track, also comes a new unique format for the non-points race. As for what you can expect this weekend, here is everything you need to know.
Over the last several weeks, the stadium floor at the Coliseum has been converted into a makeshift short track. Specifically a quarter-mile-long oval with minimal banking the entire way around. The folks over at iRacing were tasked with coming up with a few options, with what is now present being the top option. The closest thing you can compare this track to is Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina in terms of size. In terms of atmosphere, you can see the similarities to Bristol. For some extra analysis, here is Cup Series driver Anthony Alfredo running the circuit on the iRacing sim.
The Clash Field
Typically, the Clash field has been set via the previous season’s pole winners, former Clash winners, and Cup Champions. To secure a large field for this year’s event, NASCAR has made the Clash an open invitation race, with 36 teams accepting. No surprise given this is a race of the usual suspects, there is no shortage of star power headed to Hollywood. Defending Cup Series Champion Kyle Larson, along with his teammates Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, and William Byron are all in. As are a pair of new-look teams, firstly the new 23XI lineup of Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch. In addition to the new Penske trio of Joey Logano, Austin Cindric, and Ryan Blaney. In addition to rookie Harrison Burton, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, and more.
The Clash Format
This is probably the most exciting part of this year’s Clash, as it is very different from years past in a good way. On Saturday, the field will partake in practice during the day, followed up by single-car qualifying around 5:30 PST. However, this will not set the final field, as there will be four Heat Races, and two Last Chance Qualifiers before the main show on Sunday. For the Heat Races, the starting order will be based on the results of qualifying.
For the four heat races, the field will be sorted by qualifying times on Saturday. In short, the top four qualifiers all start on pole, the next four fastest will each start second, so on and so forth until the entire field is set. Qualifying straight to the Clash itself will be the top four finishers in each 25 lap Heat Race, with everyone else headed into the pair of LCQs. Those two races will each be 50 laps each, LCQ1 will feature those from Heats one and three. While LCQ2 will have those from Heats two and four. The top three from each LCQ, along with one points provisional driver, will be the final drivers to make it into the Clash.
For the Clash itself, it will be a 150-lap race that will be split up into two 75 lap stints. As far as pit stops go, do not expect them. The format is set up to where fuel and tires will be a non-issue for the entire night. As for any team that wants to make adjustments or repairs, there will be a chance to do so for the main race. At the midway point, teams will get a six-minute window to make any changes that they need to.
Clash entry list and format. Saturday: Practice-FS2 12:30-2:30p ET (split into three groups), single-car qualifying-FS1 8:30p ET (tickets are for FanFest in afternoon; grandstands open for single-car qualifying) … .. Sunday-all on FOX: heats 3p ET, main event 6p ET. pic.twitter.com/rUXtaz9R6B
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) January 31, 2022
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images