LOS ANGELES — Martin Truex Jr. earned a return to NASCAR’s Los Angeles Memorial Arena for its season’s inaugural show race — a sloppy Sunday night epic performance that featured Wiz Khalifa’s halftime performance. possibly the most exciting part of the event.
Truex took the lead with 25 laps in Busch Light Clash, a 150 lap race that was moved from the Daytona International Speedway last year to the Colosseum. NASCAR built a temporary quarter-mile-long track inside the iconic venue in a daring attempt to try something completely different.
Last year’s race was considered a smashing success based on the new fanbase attracted to the event and the excitement over the progressive approach to creating a whole new type of racing.
NASCAR knows it will be difficult to repeat the success in the comeback, and Sunday’s race wasn’t going to be great – there were 25 warnings and the yellow bottom laps didn’t count. There were only five warnings in last year’s race.
“I feel like last year’s show was a relatively clean and good race, some bumps, some bumps, but we were able to do the long green flag action,” Kyle Busch speak. “Today, I would call it a disaster with the disrespect of people just driving past each other.
“But it’s a quarter mile. It’s a tight zone race. Actually this is probably how it should have been last year, so we had a good performance the first year. Maybe this is just normal.”
Truex, who had contemplated retiring during last year’s winless season, put Joe Gibbs Racing in the winning lane to start 2023 after a near-bad season last year. Coy Gibbs, who primarily ran his father’s racing team, passed away in his sleep the night before the season finale. Gibbs’ death came just hours after his son, Ratwon NASCAR’s second-tier Xfinity Series championship.
Truex said: “Last year was a pretty tough season for us without a win, and to come here and start this way we are really proud of all these guys.
Austin Dillon and Busch, on his debut for Richard Childress Racing, finished second and third for RCR. They joined Truex on the podium for NASCAR’s first medal ceremony held beneath the famous fence of the Colosseum.
Ryan Preece, in his first race for Stewart-Haas Racing, led 43 laps until a late power failure left him undisputed. Before Sunday night, Preece had led a total of 25 laps in 115 Cup races over five seasons. Preece is seventh.
Bubba Wallace dominated early on 23XI but was turned back late by Dillon and then lunged at him to show his displeasure. He finished 22nd after 40 rounds leading.
The Clash exhibit’s format includes heat races and a pair of 50-round “last chance qualifiers” to help racers navigate the 27-car course. Three drivers from each of the enhanced LCQs: Michael McDowell, Christopher Bell And Todd Gilliland advance from the first race, and Chasing ElliottTy Gibbs and AJ Allmendinger enhanced from the second.
Those who didn’t come forward to compete in the main event were Brad Keselowski and RFK Racing teammates Chris Buescher, Harrison Burton of the wooden brothers, Corey LaJoie And Ty Dillon by Spire Motorsports, Cody Ware and JJ Yeley for Rick Ware Racing, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. by JTG Racing and BJ McLeod by Live Fast Motorsports.
The Cup Series opens at the Daytona International Speedway a week from Wednesday to begin preparations for the February 19 season-opening Daytona 500.