The One About the Clash at the Coliseum

January 31, 2023 | Blog

Share This Post

I think of all of NASCAR’s innovations over the last decade or so, moving the Busch Light Clash from Daytona International Speedway to a temporary layout at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum wasn’t my least favorite. It also wasn’t my most favorite (see the resurgence of North Wilkesboro Speedway if you want that answer.)

I think it was probably in the “medium” range of decisions I liked or didn’t like. It was definitely at the top of my list of not knowing what to expect, I’ll tell you that. Building a temporary oval inside of one of the world’s most prolific sports stadiums and running a race with 3,400-pound stock cars wasn’t something I would have ever thought of, but I think the experiment of the inaugural event in 2022 proved that there’s a reason why I’m not making scheduling decisions for a sport that turns 75-years-old this year.

Last year’s race was an experiment and to an extent, this Sunday’s edition of the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum (8 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90) will be another experiment. Last year it was the debut of the new Next Gen stock car, which saw the biggest range of changes in a new vehicle the sport has ever seen. This year, it will be an experiment to see if the novelty of the inaugural race and a year with the new car will produce the “Game 7” moment that NASCAR constantly looks for every time a race takes the green flag.

My Friends, the Great Experiment…

No it’s not the Excelsior, nerds. This race last year was the first race in a massive season of change for NASCAR. And I think it was a success. Did the race see a record number of lead changes for a short track in modern history? No. Did it see a last-lap pass for the win coming out of Turn 4? No. Did it see someone throttle down into Turn 3 and ride the wall all the way around to the start/finish line to force his way into the Championship 4? A definitive no.

It did, however, showcase that NASCAR has the ability to come up with something that’s never been done before, put it on network television, advertise the hell out of it, and have something that was the talk of the entire off-season and quite possibly overshadowed the hype of the Daytona 500. The 2022 Busch Light Clash proved that the new car was competitive and that NASCAR had an avenue to create temporary circuits in major metropolitan areas in an effort to gain popularity and increase the fan base. I’m genuinely excited about Sunday’s race. I’m excited to see new drivers with new teams, how the off-season upgrades to the Next Gen car fair, and if year two on the Coliseum’s bullring will be as intriguing as year one was.

Speaking of New Faces in New Places…

Raise your hand if you’re kinda secretly really excited about Kyle Busch going to Richard Childress Racing this year. Of all the recent silly season changes over the last handful of years, this is one that I’m most interested to see how it plays out. Not since Kevin Harvick leaving RCR and heading to Stewart-Haas Racing prior to the 2014 season have we seen this high profile of a driver leave a team and move to a new one. When Harvick left RCR after the 2013 season, it was a dark time for the team that scored six championships in the 80s and 90s with Dale Earnhardt behind the wheel. RCR didn’t win a race from 2014 through 2016 and since 2017 has only been to Victory Lane eight times (granted two of those were with Austin Dillon in the Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600.)

I think Kyle’s move away from Joe Gibbs Racing wouldn’t have been predicted a year ago. Six months ago it seemed likely but everyone thought he would get a deal and stay with the team. After his announcement last fall that he was making a move, I think it rejuvenated not only himself, but Richard Childress (the man) and Richard Childress Racing. The days of Earnhardt and Childress in Victory Lane after winning races and championships are long gone. But, I absolutely think Kyle Busch can help take RCR back to the glory days of 30 years ago. Three wins is an attainable goal this season. A berth in the final eight of the playoffs is an attainable goal this season. Anything more than that is icing on the cake for 2023.

Related Posts

The Great Paradigm Shift of Auto Club Speedway

The love-hate-love relationship we've had with Auto Club Speedway comes to a fever pitch this weekend.
Read More

The One About the All-Star Race

The NASCAR All-Star Race isn't quite what it used to be back in the day and could use some serious revamping.
Read More
Alex Bowman, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott and Austin Dillon at Bristol Dirt 2022

The Best of Intentions

On paper the Bristol Dirt Race is an amazing concept. After two years of races, the reality is it's not that great.
Read More