Logano claims Busch Light Clash victory at LA Coliseum

Joey Logano etched his name as the winner of the 2022 Busch Light Clash in NASCAR’s inaugural exhibition event at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, February 6, after leading the final 35 laps and fending off a late challenge from Kyle Busch. The victory marked Logano’s second career Clash victory after winning his first at Daytona International Speedway in February 2017 as he also emerged victorious in NASCAR’s first event with the Gen 7 stock cars.

The lineup for the exhibition feature was determined through the use of four 25-lap heat races, caution laps not included, and nine competitors from a total of 36 competing in each. The top-four finishers from each heat (16 total) earned a one-way ticket to the Clash. Afterwards, the 20 competitors who did not advance to the Clash via the heat races participated in two 50-lap Last Chance Qualifying races with the top-three finishers in each Last Chance Qualifying event advancing to the Clash.

In the first Heat event, Kyle Busch, the reigning Clash champion who posted the fastest qualifying lap at 65.478 mph on Saturday and started on the pole, transferred after leading all 25 laps and finishing first ahead of runner-up Daniel Suarez. They were joined by third-place finisher Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and fourth-place finisher Ryan Blaney in the main event while Denny Hamlin, Ross Chastain, rookie Todd Gilliland, Aric Almirola and BJ McLeod were sent to the Last Chance Qualifiers. The first Heat victory gave Kyle Busch the top starting spot for the main event

In the second Heat event, Tyler Reddick, who started on the pole, ran away from the field to lead all 25 laps, finish first and transfer followed by Chase Briscoe, Austin Dillon and Cole Custer. Bubba Wallace, Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr., rookie Harrison Burton and Brad Keselowski were sent to the Last Chance Qualifiers. The second Heat victory gave Reddick a front row starting spot alongside Kyle Busch for the main event.

In the third Heat event, Justin Haley, who commenced his first full-time campaign in the NASCAR Cup Series competitor for Kaulig Racing on the pole, fended off the field to lead all 25 laps and transfer to the main event after finishing first. Joining him were William Byron, Christopher Bell and Chase Elliott while AJ Allmendinger, Kevin Harvick, Chris Buescher, Cody Ware and Corey LaJoie were sent to the Last Chance Qualifiers. The third Heat victory placed Haley on the second row for the Clash.

In the fourth and final Heat event, Joey Logano, who started on pole, survived through two restarts to lead all 25 laps and transfer by finishing first ahead of Kyle Larson, the reigning Cup Series champion. Michael McDowell, the reigning Daytona 500 champion, finished third and also transferred along with Erik Jones, a former Clash winner. Austin Cindric, who spun on Lap 9 after getting hit by Landon Cassill and was trying to carve his way back to the front, settled in fifth and was sent to the Last Chance Qualifiers along with Ryan Preece, Kurt Busch, Cassill and Ty Dillon, who brought out an early caution after his car slowed due to a broken transmission. The fourth Heat victory placed Logano alongside Haley in the second row.

Prior to the event, Larson was the lone competitor who was guaranteed a spot to the 2022 Busch Light Clash based on point provisional and being the reigning Cup champion. With Larson earning a top-four result in his heat event, however, Martin Truex Jr. was awarded a spot for the Clash based on points provisional due to finishing in the runner-up result in the 2021 Cup standings behind Larson. He opted to not participate in the Last Chance Qualifiers and use the points provisional to start at the rear of the field for the main event.

In the first Last Chance Qualifying event, Denny Hamlin raced his way into the main event after leading all 50 laps and finishing first ahead of Kevin Harvick and AJ Allmendinger, both of whom also transferred. Cody Ware, Chris Buescher, Ross Chastain, Corey LaJoie, rookie Todd Gilliland and BJ McLeod failed to qualify for the main event. Another competitor who headed home early was Aric Almirola, who commenced his final full-time season in NASCAR competition on a low note after getting bumped by Gilliland on Lap 4, which sent Almirola’s No. 10 Farmer John Ford Mustang sliding and making hard contact against the Turn 3 outside wall. The Floridian was very quick to express a warning finger towards the Front Row Motorsports rookie competitor following the incident.

In the second and final Last Chance Qualifying event, Ryan Preece, Bubba Wallace and Harrison Burton survived a series of on-track carnages and restarts to claim the final transfer spots into the main event. Ty Dillon, who was originally penalized for jumping the restart with less than 20 laps remaining but fought his way back to the front, was first across the finish line in the final Last Chance Qualifying event, but was penalized a second time for jumping the final restart with three laps remaining and disqualified from the main event. As a result, Preece was promoted to first place ahead of Wallace and Burton, who rallied from spinning while leading with three laps remaining. Dillon joined Brad Keselowski, rookie Austin Cindric, Landon Cassill, Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman, all of whom were involved in at least one on-track incident, as the next wave of competitors that were sent home and out of the main event.

When the main event commenced under green, Kyle Busch and Reddick dueled for the lead for a full lap as Reddick led the first lap by a nose. Busch was able to lead the following two laps before Reddick muscled his way into the lead by the fourth lap.

Through the first 10 laps of the event, Reddick’s No. 8 Guaranteed Rate Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was leading ahead of Kyle Busch’s No. 18 M&M’s Toyota TRD Camry while Haley, Logano and Suarez were in the top five.

Ten laps later and with the leaders catching lapped traffic amid the close-quarter racing, Reddick continued to lead by six-tenths of a second over Kyle Busch while Haley, Logano and Suarez remained in the top five. Larson was in sixth ahead of teammate Byron, Briscoe, Austin Dillon and Cole Custer while Erik Jones, McDowell, Christopher Bell, Blaney and Elliott were in the top 15. By then, Bubba Wallace, Stenhouse and Hamlin were lapped by the leaders.

By Lap 35, Reddick stabilized his advantage to less than four-tenths of a second over Kyle Busch as Haley and Logano remained in third and fourth. Meanwhile, Larson overtook Suarez to move into the top five.

Through the first 50 laps of the event, Reddick remained as the leader by more than a second over Kyle Busch while Logano was up in third place in his No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang. Haley was in fourth while Larson and Briscoe battled for fifth. Byron, Suarez, Austin Dillon and Erik Jones were in the top 10 ahead of Blaney, Elliott, Custer, Bell and Kevin Harvick. By then, names like McDowell, Martin Truex Jr., teammate Hamlin, Preece, Stenhouse and Wallace were mired at least a lap behind the leaders.

Three laps later, the first caution of the main event flew when Stenhouse spun in Turn 4. At the same time, Hamlin, who was off the pace prior to the caution, pulled his No. 11 FedEx Toyota TRD Camry into the infield as his pit crew popped the hood opened to diagnose a power steering belt issue. The issue was enough to terminate Hamlin’s run in the Coliseum.

Prior to the restart, Reddick, who was leading, and Briscoe, who was in fourth, retired after both encountered mechanical issues related to the driveshaft. These late turn of events moved Kyle Busch and Logano to the front of the grid.

When the race restarted, Busch was able to clear Logano to retain the lead as Larson challenged Logano for the runner-up spot. Not long after, Logano retained second and Haley move his No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 into third place while Larson slipped to fourth ahead of teammate Byron.

By Lap 60, Kyle Busch continued to lead by nearly half a second over Logano while Haley, Larson and Byron stabilized themselves in the top five ahead of Erik Jones, Elliott, Blaney, Bell and Austin Dillon. Meanwhile, Suarez was in 11th ahead of Allmendinger, Custer, Harvick, Harrison Burton and McDowell. 

Five laps later, the caution returned when Elliott spun his No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in Turn 2.

Shortly after and when the race restarted under green, Kyle Busch and Logano dueled for the lead for a second time before Busch managed to clear Logano and retain the top spot. Behind, Byron challenged Haley for third ahead of Larson and Blaney.

When the race reached the halfway mark and a break period on Lap 75, Kyle Busch fended off a last lap bump from Logano, which sent Busch’s car out of the racing groove, to retain the lead by a narrow margin. By then, Haley was in third ahead of Byron, Larson, Blaney, Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, Bell and Allmendinger.

When the second half of the Clash started under green, Kyle Busch retained the lead as Byron settled in second ahead of Logano and the field. Meanwhile, Ryan Preece pulled his No. 15 Jacob Companies Ford Mustang to the infield due to a brake failure.

A few laps later, a brief three-wide battle for second ensued between Larson, Logano and Byron before Larson prevailed ahead of both. Behind, Haley settled in fifth ahead of Austin Dillon, Blaney, Jones, Bell and Allmendinger. 

With 60 laps remaining, Kyle Busch stabilized his advantage to more than a second over Logano while Larson, Haley and Byron remained in the top five. By then, 17 of 23 competitors were scored on the lead lap with Truex settling in 17th.

Fifteen laps later, Kyle Busch remained as the leader by less than seven-tenths of a second over Logano. Behind, Larson remained in third ahead of teammate Byron and Haley while Austin Dillon, Blaney, Erik Jones, Bell and Chase Elliott were in the top 10. 

Another 15 laps later, the caution flew when Blaney fell off the pace and retired after an earlier bump and contact with Erik Jones sent Blaney into the outside wall. The incident prompted Blaney to toss his HANS device to Jones’ No. 43 FOCUSFactor Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on the track to express his displeasure as his race came to an end. Prior to the caution, Kyle Busch was being pressured by Logano for the lead, where he got bumped by Logano’s Ford through the braking turns, as he was catching lapped traffic.

When the race restarted, Kyle Busch and Logano continued to duel for the lead. Just then, the caution returned when Larson, who was battling Haley for third, veered and body slammed into the side of Haley and sent the Winamac, Indiana, native head-on into the inside concrete barriers on the frontstretch. The incident spoiled Haley’s strong weekend and a potential opportunity to win as he retired in the infield.

Following another restart, Logano muscled his way into the lead and Larson moved his No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 into second ahead of Kyle Busch. 

With less than 30 laps remaining, Logano was leading by a little over half a second over Larson and Kyle Busch while Austin Dillon and Byron battled for fourth. 

Down to the final 20 laps of the event, Logano continued to lead by less than nine-tenths of a second over Kyle Busch, who earlier used his car to overtake Larson for second as he set his sights on Logano for the lead. 

Five laps later and as Kyle Busch continued to close in on Logano for the lead, Austin Dillon moved up to third followed by Byron and Erik Jones while Larson slipped back to sixth ahead of Christopher Bell.

With 10 laps remaining, the battle for the lead intensified as Logano had Kyle Busch covering his rear view mirrors with Busch drawing himself closer to Logano’s rear bumper.

Down to the final five laps, the gap between Logano and Kyle Busch was down to less than half a second as Logano remained in the lead.

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Logano stabilized himself with a respective advantage over Kyle Busch. With no challengers able to close in behind him, Logano was able to methodically navigate his way around the Coliseum smoothly for a final time and cross the finish line in first place to win by nearly nine-tenths of a second over Kyle Busch as Truex and McDowell wrecked in front of the leaders.

With Logano becoming the first NASCAR competitor to win at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Clash victory was also the fifth for Team Penske and the 10th for the Ford nameplate.

“I can’t believe it!” Logano, who revealed that his wife was expecting their third baby on FOX, exclaimed. “We’re here. The L.A. Coliseum. We got the victory with the old Shell/Pennzoil Mustang. This is an amazing event. Congratulations, NASCAR. Such a huge step in our industry to be able to do this, put on an amazing race for everybody. I’m out of breath. I was so excited about this. This is a big win. [Crew chief] Paul [Wolfe], [race engineer] Shaggy [Pope] and the engineers do a great job. The guys working on the car did an amazing job of finding speed when we were slow. We were 28th or so on the board yesterday and made some good changes, worked with our teammate Ryan Blaney a lot. I owe a lot to him, too. To see some of the gains they made and ultimately get the win. This is special. To get the first Next Gen win, the first win out here on the Coliseum, it’s a special one. We’re gonna have some fun and celebrate it.”

Kyle Busch, the reigning Clash winner who led a race-high 64 laps compared to Logano’s 35, settled in second place followed by Austin Dillon, Erik Jones and Larson.

“I was being perfect doing everything I needed to do—keep the tires underneath me,” Busch said. “When I got close, I was like, ‘OK, I’ve got to try more and pounce at an opportunity,’ and just overheated the tires and smoked them in three laps and that was it. Disappointing, obviously. To come out here, win the pole, lead laps, run up front, the finish goes green and it’s not chaotic, and we can’t win. That sucks.”

“From where we were last night, it took a lot of crazy faith, a little prayer last night, talked to myself,” Dillon added. “We got it together today, though. The True Velocity Chevrolet was really fast, in practice. I just struggled a little bit [through] qualifying. I knew we’d get in the race, we’re gonna be fine. The long run speed was there. I’m disappointed I couldn’t get to those next two cars that were really wanting to get there, but all in all, a great race from where we were last night. Everybody back home at [Richard Childress Racing did] a good job. It was a good showing from us.”

Byron, Custer, Bell, Allmendinger and Harvick completed the top 10 on the track.

There were five lead changes for three different leaders. The race featured five cautions for no laps.

Results.

1. Joey Logano, 35 laps led

2. Kyle Busch, 64 laps led

3. Austin Dillon

4. Erik Jones

5. Kyle Larson

6. William Byron

7. Cole Custer

8. Christopher Bell

9. AJ Allmendinger

10. Kevin Harvick

11. Chase Elliott

12. Harrison Burton

13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

14. Daniel Suarez

15. Martin Truex Jr., one lap down

16. Michael McDowell, one lap down

17. Ryan Blaney, three laps down

18. Bubba Wallace, four laps down

19. Justin Haley – OUT, Accident

20. Ryan Preece – OUT, Oil Pressure

21. Tyler Reddick – OUT, Drivetrain, 51 laps led

22. Chase Briscoe – OUT, Drivetrain

23. Denny Hamlin – OUT, Power

The NASCAR Cup Series competitors will be taking a one-week break before returning to action at Daytona International Speedway in preparation for the 64th running of the Daytona 500 scheduled for February 20 at 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX. Practices will occur on February 15 from 5:05-5:55 and 6:35-7:25 p.m. ET with a third practice session to occur on February 18 from 6 p.m. to 6:50 p.m. ET. The pole position qualifying session for the 500 is scheduled to occur on February 16 at 8:05 p.m. ET while the Bluegreen Vacations Duels, which will determine the remainder of the lineup for the 500, will occur on February 17 at 7 p.m. ET and 9 p.m. ET, both to air on FS1.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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