More drastic changes are coming to the NASCAR schedule. This one though, doesn’t involve a points paying race. For the second consecutive year, NASCAR has made a change to the way the Busch Clash is ran. From 1979 through 2019, it was annually held on the high banks of the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway. Last year, they moved it to the road course. Now, not only is it being moved again, it’s being moved across the country.
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, one of the most storied venues in all of sports and entertainment, will add a new event to its long and decorated list: The Clash at the Coliseum.
This season-opening exhibition will take place on Feb. 6, 2022 and become the first NASCAR race held inside the iconic Los Angeles stadium since it opened in 1923. The Clash at the Coliseum will be a signature event as a part of the venue’s centennial celebration and mark the first time NASCAR’s prelude to the DAYTONA 500 will take place somewhere other than Daytona International Speedway, an icon in its own right that will host the regular-season opener two weeks later.
“Los Angeles is synonymous with major sports and entertainment events, so we seized an innovative opportunity to showcase NASCAR at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR senior vice president of strategy and innovation. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to take center stage in this market as we get our 2022 season underway.”
My initial thoughts when first getting wind of this? What does this do to Speedweeks? It’s basically went from weeks as in plural, to week, as in singular, to now mere days.
The build up to the Great American Race will be as drastically reduced as its ever been. Despite the schedule not been released yet, it’s looking like we’re down to maybe practice and qualifying on Wednesday, Duels on Thursday, Trucks on Friday, Xfinity and ARCA on Saturday and the Daytona 500 on Sunday. While that’s down only a day in comparison to this past year, the loss of the Clash certainly is an impact to Daytona.
In saying that however, I do feel like something had to be done about the Clash anyways. My vote was to eliminate it all together as I don’t feel like the road course worked for it. While it was honestly a good ending back in February, it just felt awkward to have a road course race kick off Speedweeks, or scratch that, week. Plus, it wasn’t a big rated event anyhow.
Fox Sports 1 saw 1.577 million viewers for this year’s race. That’s down almost 1 million people as 2.455 million tuned into the 2020 Busch Clash. Granted, the 2020 race was on the oval and was held on a Sunday afternoon compared to a weeknight, it still shows that doing the same thing again in 2022 wasn’t going to be ideal.
The problem was, holding it on the oval didn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense anymore anyways. It had become the Busch Crash instead of the Clash. Most, if not all cars in the field, would end up with crash damage which made the event very expensive for race teams.
See, if you were in it, there’s no way you bring your Daytona 500 car for it. You’d have to prepare a completely different throw away car for the Clash and then prepare a new car for the Daytona 500. Throw in a backup car for the ‘500 and the big teams were bringing three cars down to Daytona for Speedweeks.
The other thing is, the Clash went away from what it initially was founded off of. This was a race for pole winners only. Now, it has been expanded and extended from the original 20 lap format.
The original concept for the Busch Clash was for a Sunday afternoon show a week before the Daytona 500 and to fit it all in during a half an hour TV window on CBS. Well, the race had become 55 laps longer than the inaugural event in 1979, in recent year, was as boring as ever until a crap show at the end.
Due to the distance and like in 2019 having only 18 cars racing in it then, why put yourself in harms way by drafting early and often? With a guaranteed caution coming on Lap 25, you could ride around in a high speed parade and keep your car clean for the end.
That’s what happened the last two years on the oval.
The first segments were full of 18 cars running in tow with one another. The second segment was run with cars trying to save fuel until the end, then having manufacturers pit together.
From there, it was the usual crash fest in the end. Just look at how the last one on the oval ended. We’d see a six car crash that was sparked by a block by Joey Logano with 10 laps left in regulation. Then, on the restart with three laps remaining in regulation, we saw a bizarre crash in the tri-oval between nine cars. From there, a crash on the first overtime restart when Denny Hamlin cut a tire while leading, took out 10 more cars which was followed by a three car crash on the next restart.
That left six cars on track for the third overtime, one of which being a lap down.
So, I ask, why race for 75 laps when 65+ of them are run single file and we get every car crashed in the end?
I mean when you show up with 18 cars for this race and all of them have damage, there’s a problem. In 2018, 17 of the 20 cars crashed in one accident at the end before the rain fell too.
That’s 38 cars and 35 of them crashed in a two year span.
So I applaud the change. I also applaud the change to LA. It gives the spark to the event back again. You can bet your ass that even if you’re against this move, you’ll still be turning in. The ratings and attendance for this race on Feb. 6 next year is going to be one of the more highly anticipated ones of the entire season. New events always are.
Plus, it’s the week before the Super Bowl which just so happens to be played in the same town. Talk about a win-win. While it could also wad up a bunch of cars too and not end well either, I give NASCAR props for the change. They could always change it again in 2023.
The luster for the old Clash was gone. No one was showing up. Crowds were so scarce that I’d estimate 5-10k in Daytona anymore. Ratings were getting lower from 2019 to 2020 and the race was growing more expensive.
It wasn’t a good move for anyone involved.
So, in comes a new event. I like it.
The traditional Coliseum playing surface will be converted into a quarter-mile, asphalt short track creating a brand-new action-packed event to kick off the season. Drivers will compete for the first time in the new Next Gen cars.
The Clash at the Coliseum will be the first of two visits to Southern California, as NASCAR’s premier series will also visit Auto Club Speedway in 2022.
Tickets for the Feb. 6 NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum will go on-sale beginning Thursday, Sept. 16th at 1 p.m. ET. Tickets start at $65 for adults and kids 12 & under starting as low as $10. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum offers a variety of seating options from lower to upper bowl, midfield start/finish line seats to premium club seats with access to the exclusive Lou Galen Club Lounge. Premium Club seats will go on-sale starting Sept. 29 at 1 p.m. ET following a special pre-sale to current Club Members. Tickets can be purchased by visiting Ticketmaster.com. For more information visit nascar.com/lacoliseum.