Hendrick Motorsports Media Advance: Clash at the Coliseum

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023
.25-Mile Oval
8:00 PM ET
Location: Los Angeles, California
TV: Fox
Event: NASCAR Cup Series exhibition
Radio: SiriusXM, PRN

5 KYLE LARSON

Age: 30 (July 31, 1992)

Hometown: Elk Grove, California

Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina

Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels

Standings: 7th (2022)

No. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 1:15 p.m. PST.

2022 SUCCESS: Following his career-best year in 2021 when he secured his first NASCAR Cup Series championship during a 10-win season, Kyle Larson added to his winning ways in 2022. The No. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM team secured a spot in the owner’s Championship 4 while Larson finished the season seventh in the driver point standings. In his eighth full-time season, the 30-year-old driver posted three victories, 13 top-five finishes, 19 top-10s, 635 laps led with an average start of 7.86.

QUITE THE PAIRING: Larson begins his third consecutive full-time season with the 14-time Cup Series championship-winning organization. Paired with crew chief Cliff Daniels, the duo looks to add to their series-best total of 13 wins over the past two seasons and are on the hunt for their second championship together.

CALIFORNIA’S COLISEUM: The Elk Grove, California, native returns to his home state to compete in NASCAR’s second season-opening exhibition at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. During the 2022 race at the historic venue, Larson started eighth and finished fifth on the .25-mile track. On Dec. 15, 2022, the 2014 rookie of the year took part in the groundbreaking ceremony as work began on the specially constructed track for the 2023 Cup Series race.

WEEKEND VICTORY: On Friday, Jan. 27, Larson won in a late model dirt series race at Golden Isles Speedway. Taking the lead with two laps to go on the .4-mile clay dirt track, Larson would claim his first victory of 2023 on the second night of action at the Brunswick, Georgia, track.

DRIVER’S SEAT: This weekend, as Larson drives the No. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 (view the paint scheme here) auto shoppers can pick up their own keys as Hendrick Automotive Group has 95 dealerships nationwide. Customers can also shop from the convenience of their home, selecting the category, make, model and vehicle packages that are important to them from the nearly 30,000 new, high-quality pre-owned and certified cars, trucks and SUVs available at HENDRICKCARS.COM.

WE’RE HIRING: Join 10,000+ others nationwide in working at Hendrick Automotive Group. Hendrick is hiring technicians and other positions at its dealerships throughout the country. Positions are open for all skill levels and offer tuition and training reimbursement. Individuals who are interested can apply at HENDRICKCARS.COM.

FAMILY OF FIVE: Larson and wife Katelyn welcomed their third child, Cooper Donald Larson, on New Year’s Eve of 2022. Cooper joins the couple’s oldest two kids – son Owen (age 8) and daughter Audrey (age 4).

9 CHASE ELLIOTT

Age: 27 (Nov. 28, 1995)

Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia

Resides: Dawsonville, Georgia

Crew Chief: Alan Gustafson

Standings: 4th (2022)

No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to members of the media at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 1:15 p.m. PST.

LOOKING BACK ON ’22: Last season, Chase Elliott and his No. 9 team set the pace in the Next Gen car with a NASCAR Cup Series-high five victories – Dover Motor Speedway, Nashville Superspeedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway. Prior to the start of the season, the 2020 Cup Series champion signed a five-year extension with the team. The Hendrick Motorsports driver also earned his first Cup Series regular-season championship, which helped catapult him to the top seeding to start the 10-race playoffs. Elliott advanced to the Championship 4 for the third consecutive year, ultimately placing fourth in the season standings. Accompanying Elliott’s five wins were 12 top-five finishes and 20 top-10s, while his 12.47 average finish and 857 laps led were series-best marks. At the NASCAR Awards show in Nashville, Elliott brought home his fifth straight National Motorsports Press Association Most Popular Driver Award.

LA BOUND: For the second year, the Cup Series returns to the legendary Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the exhibition Clash at the Coliseum. Last season, Elliott started the 150-lap main event from the 15th position and raced inside the top 10 before ultimately taking the checkered flag in 11th. While the 27-year-old driver has never won the Clash, he is a three-time winner in special events held by NASCAR, including two Daytona Duels victories (2017, 2018) and the 2020 NASCAR All-Star Race.

10 YEARS WITH NAPA: The 2023 season marks a decade of partnership between Elliott and NAPA Auto Parts. The Atlanta-based company first paired up with the Dawsonville, Georgia, native for his rookie NASCAR Xfinity Series season at JR Motorsports in 2014 and has been with him ever since. NAPA is serving as majority partner for Elliott and the No. 9 team for 26 NASCAR Cup Series races this season, including this weekend’s Clash. See every angle of the paint scheme here.

DYNAMIC DUO: Elliott and Alan Gustafson are entering their eighth season as a driver/crew chief combo. The duo is currently second on the list of wins by active driver/crew chief pairings with 18 points-paying victories. Gustafson and Elliott have advanced to the Championship 4 in each of the last three seasons, the only pairing to do so from 2020-2022. They earned their first Cup Series title in 2020 and the team captured the regular-season championship in 2022.

KELLEY BLUE BOOK IS BACK: On Tuesday, it was announced that Kelley Blue Book extended its sponsorship of Elliott and Hendrick Motorsports with a two-year contract renewal. In 2023 and 2024, Kelley Blue Book will be featured as a two-race primary sponsor and full-season associate sponsor of Elliott and the No. 9 team. The company’s association with Hendrick Motorsports began with a one-race primary sponsorship in 2014 and expanded to two races in 2016 when Kelley Blue Book joined Elliott for his rookie year. This season, the 27-year-old Elliott will drive the No. 9 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 on March 12 at Phoenix Raceway and in the Cup Series playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sept. 24. You can view the paint scheme here.

24 WILLIAM BYRON

Age: 25 (Nov. 29, 1997)

Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina

Resides: Charlotte, North Carolina

Crew Chief: Rudy Fugle

Standings: 6th (2022)

No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

2022 IN THE REARVIEW: Embarking on his sixth season in the NASCAR Cup Series, William Byron is coming off a career-best finish to the year at the highest level of competition. Starting off 2022 strong, Byron collected two wins early on. His first victory came at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March and he won three weeks later at Martinsville Speedway for his first multi-win Cup Series season. Locking himself in the Cup Series playoffs for the fourth consecutive time, Byron fought his way to the Round of 8 for the first time in the Cup Series, finishing a career-best sixth in the points standings. He ended 2022 with two wins, one pole award, five top-five finishes, 11 top-10s, and 746 laps led – the third-most laps led among drivers.

COMING FOR THE CLASH: With the 2023 season kicking off with the Clash at the Coliseum, this will be the second year that the exhibition race will be held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Byron’s last three Clash races have each occurred at different venues (Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Road Course and the LA Coliseum). In last year’s event in LA, Byron started seventh and despite racing his way within the top-five running order, ultimately finished the exhibition race in sixth. He was one of four drivers to race all 150 laps within the top 10, including running 89 of the 150 circuits in the top five.

STADIUM STYLE: While the historic California venue is only in its second year on the Cup Series circuit, it closely resembles Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston Salem, North Carolina. In 2015, Byron competed at Bowman Gray with what is known now as the ARCA Menards Series East. In that race, he started fourth and finished in the 15th position.

RUDY, RUDY, RUDY: Making strides in only his second Cup Series season, crew chief Rudy Fugle collected two wins with Byron and the No. 24 team in 2022. Continuing to learn about the Next Gen car, Fugle and his driver firmly locked themselves into the playoffs, reaching the Round of 8. The Livonia, New York, native is looking to build off his second season at the Cup level with the goal of propelling the No. 24 to a Championship 4 berth.

RAPTOR® TOUGH: RAPTOR® Tough and Tintable Protective Coatings will return in 2023 as the primary sponsor of William Byron and the No. 24 team. RAPTOR® is a durable protective coating that is designed to tolerate the toughest climatic conditions and can be applied to a wide range of items, including truck beds, lawnmowers, outdoor furniture and more. With 16 pre-mixed colors available, it’s easy to personalize anything you want to protect. RAPTOR® is available at local paint distributors, auto parts stores, and online retailers. For a better look at Byron’s No. 24 RaptorTough.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, click here.

48 Alex Bowman

Age: 29 (April 25, 1993)

Hometown: Tucson, Arizona

Resides: Concord, North Carolina

Crew Chief: Blake Harris

Standings: 16th (2022)

No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

2022 RECAP: Last season, Alex Bowman reached victory lane with a win in the third event of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 48 made 31 starts in 2022, tallying four top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. A second-place starting position in the 2022 DAYTONA 500 etched his name in the record books for the most consecutive front row starts in that event with five. In addition, he reached the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. Bowman was sidelined for five events after sustaining a concussion at Texas Motor Speedway in September but returned for the season finale at Phoenix Raceway in November.

DAY ‘N’ NITE: The No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will adorn two versions of the primary scheme during the 2023 Cup Series season. The No. 48 Ally Chevy “day” scheme will host a white base with bright plum, grapefruit, and seafoam stripes down the side. This version of the primary scheme will appear at races that take place during the day. When the lights come on over the racetrack, the black-based No. 48 Ally Chevy “night” scheme will be sported with a similar design to its daytime counterpart. Check out all the angles of the No. 48 machine’s new look here.

CLASH FLASHBACK: In the debut running of the Clash at the Coliseum in February 2022, Bowman finished sixth in his heat race – two positions away from making the main event. From that result, the 29-year-old driver competed in the second last chance qualifier. During his LCQ race, he was caught in an on-track incident and did not advance to the 150-lap feature race.

WINNING WAYS: The Tucson, Arizona, native is no stranger to victory lane. Since the start of the 2021 Cup Series season, Bowman is tied for the third-most wins with 2022 Cup Series Champion Joey Logano. Only Hendrick Motorsports teammates Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson have more wins, with seven and 13, respectively.

BRUSHING OFF THE DIRT: Bowman plans to strap back into the No. 55 Ally sprint car in the World of Outlaws at Volusia Raceway Park during the week between the Clash and the DAYTONA 500.

NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN: Blake Harris joins the Hendrick Motorsports’ 2023 crew chief lineup as the pit boss for Bowman. The 36-year-old Maypearl, Texas, native comes to the 14-time championship winning organization after completing his rookie season atop the pit box with Front Row Motorsports and the No. 34 team in 2022. Prior to being a crew chief, Harris served as a car chief for Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. at Furniture Row Racing. He was an integral part of Furniture Row’s 2017 championship season when the No. 78 team won eight races and led 2,253 laps. In 2019, Harris followed Truex to Joe Gibbs Racing, where he also served as the car chief for the No. 19 team.

CLOSING IN ON 300: Entering the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, Hendrick Motorsports is nine points-paying victories away from 300 in the sport’s top series. Twenty drivers have combined to reach the organization’s current total of 291 wins, which is the most in the sport by any one team.

YEAR IN REVIEW: In 2022, Hendrick Motorsports notched a series-best 11 wins with Chase Elliott leading all Cup Series drivers with five victories and earning the regular-season championship. Kyle Larson and William Byron each posted multi-win campaigns. Alex Bowman earned a win for the fourth consecutive season. All four drivers made the playoffs and reached the Round of 12 with Elliott making the Championship 4 for the third consecutive season. The No. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM team reached the owner’s Championship 4 for the second straight season. The organization’s 11 wins marked the ninth time that the team had won at least 11 races in a single season.

FORMAT FOCUS: The Clash at the Coliseum will see Saturday night’s single-car qualifying determine the starting order for Sunday’s four heat races of 25 laps. The top-five finishers in each heat race will advance to the main event with the winner of the first heat on the pole. Two last chance qualifiers of 50 laps each will be held among the drivers that have not raced into the field. The top-three finishers from those two races will advance to the main event. The 27th and final spot in the field will go to the highest driver from the 2022 driver point standings that is not yet locked into the 150-lap main event. In the heat races, LCQs and main event, only green flag laps will count.

IT NEVER RAINS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: However, in the event that it does, teams will be able to use wet-weather equipment in the Clash. The LA Coliseum is one of six Cup Series ovals (Martinsville Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, Phoenix Raceway and Richmond Raceway) that will see this as an option. The sanctioning body’s intent is to use it in mild conditions to speed up the resumption of racing following a rain delay.

LA REWIND: In last year’s first race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Hendrick Motorsports placed two cars in the top six of the final running order. Larson finished an organization-best fifth, while Byron came home sixth in the event.

CAPTURING THE CLASH: Hendrick Motorsports’ seven wins in the Clash are the third-most among all teams. All of their victories came at Daytona International Speedway, which was the home of the Clash from 1979 to 2020. The track’s road course hosted the 2021 edition of the Clash. Ken Schrader (1989 and 1990), Jeff Gordon (1994 and 1997) and Jimmie Johnson (2005 and 2019) each won the event twice, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored a win in 2008.

SAVORING THE SPECIAL: The Rick Hendrick-owned organization has recorded a series-best 37 wins in special events. The team’s win totals in the Daytona Duel qualifiers (16), NASCAR All-Star Race (10) and All-Star Open (four) are the most or tied for the most among all teams. Larson has four wins in such events with one coming with Hendrick Motorsports in the 2021 All-Star Race. Elliott has three wins in those events (2017 and 2018 Duels and the 2020 All-Star Race), while Byron has one victory (2020 Duels).

QUOTABLE /

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the Clash at the Coliseum: “I thought last year was amazing. NASCAR and everyone else involved did a great job building the track, making it proper for racing, creating excitement around the event and making it fun for fans. It was great to be a part of that historical event. I’m happy that we’re able to come back and put on another great show. I’m sure that it will be even better than the inaugural race was.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the upcoming season: “People always say control what you can control. The good news for us is there are things that we (the No. 5 team) can control to make a difference and be better. A lot of those things we got right in 2021. We know that it is within us. We have the capability and talent. Now we just need to put it together and come out of the gates strong in 2023 to run a solid season. I’m confident that we will.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on racing in the Clash: “The Clash was a good event last year and it was a unique way to kick off our season. It seemed like the fans were excited to be there and enjoyed all the festivities they had going on. It was just kind of a different vibe than what we usually have. Everyone that had a hand in putting it together and bringing it to life did a great job, and going back a second year, I think it will just be as good.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on heading back to Los Angeles for the Clash: “Last year was kind of surreal racing at such an iconic place where so many major events have been held. It’s just a cool venue and I’m looking forward to going back. Hopefully this year will be a little bit of a calmer experience and a little less stressful. Last year everything was brand new – the track, the format and the car. We’ll have a little bit better of an idea of what we’re going for this time around, but the track is so unique that even with going there last year, we’re still learning.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on starting the 2023 season at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: “I’m excited to get out to Los Angeles. I’m just really ready to get the season started. We have our goals set to accomplish this year and the team has been preparing for the season to get back underway. While the Clash isn’t a points-paying race, it is a good way to get momentum going and really shake the dust off before the season ramps up in Daytona. The goal still remains to win every time we’re on track and show what we’ve learned.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on returning to the LA Coliseum: “Last year’s Clash really had a lot of aspects we had never done before – the Next Gen car, the track location, logistics in general. It all worked out, but I think we’re better prepared for even the little details this year. We’ve come so far with the car setup-wise from race one to the season finale. What we learned at last year’s Clash with the car is vastly different to what it will be this year. I’m really excited to go try those new things out though and see what may arise.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the start of the season: “I am excited to get back behind the wheel. The way last season ended and me having to be out of the race car has made me hungry to get back. I have spent the offseason training and preparing, so I think the shortened season in 2022 and focusing on being ready for this season has created a lot of excitement and anticipation for me. Blake (Harris) has brought a lot of energy to this team and I know the crew is super motivated to go compete. We will take it one race at a time, and it starts at the Clash this Sunday.”

Blake Harris, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, on the team’s approach at LA Coliseum: “First and foremost, we have to make sure the team is clicking. Working on communication with Alex (Bowman) is the highest priority. It’s super unique how we go out there, being three eight-minute sessions for practice. We get a little extra time for changes compared to what our normal segments would be. Everything about that race is just different. The main thing we are going to try to take away is how we discuss changes that need to be made to the car and really just the communication between myself, Alex and the entire team for that whole practice session. Looking ahead to Daytona (International Speedway), we go right into a qualifying session and then qualifying races so between the heat races and all the practice at the Clash, a big portion of our focus is communication.”

Harris, on his expectations for the race: “Last season, the No. 48 team didn’t reach the main event, so the first priority is having enough speed to qualify well and put ourselves in a decent position in our heat to not go to a last chance qualifier. Our next priority is going and building off of what Hendrick Motorsports had for a short-track package towards the middle-end of the year, which seemed to have a lot of speed. Hopefully, we can bring some of that speed back to Los Angeles.”

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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