Under the bright lights in Hollywood fashion, NASCAR is rolling out the red carpet in Los Angeles, California to commence the celebration of the 75th year of the sport, and it all starts when the engines are fired for the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum on Sunday, February 5 at 8 p.m. ET at the purpose-built, quarter-mile, asphalt oval inside the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
NASCAR has come a long way in its 75 years. It was on December 14, 1947, when Bill France Sr. gathered 35 people for four days of meetings (Dec. 14 – 17) at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach. The distinguished group represented the most influential names in the racing industry at the time and included drivers, mechanics, promoters, car owners, journalists, businessmen, and a recording secretary. The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) was born from that meeting and though he knew what was needed, not even Bill could envision what the sport would become.
“Stock car racing has got distinct possibilities for Sunday shows, and we do not know how big it can be if it’s handled properly… It can go the same way as big car racing (Indianapolis), I believe stock car racing can become a nationally recognized sport by having a National Point Standing. Stock car racing as we’ve been running it is not, in my opinion, the answer… We must try to get track owners and promoters interested in building stock car racing up. We are all interested in one thing — that is improving the present conditions. The answer lies in our group right here today to do it.” – Bill France Sr. on December 14, 1947, speaking at NASCAR’s organizational meeting at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida.
In the last 75 years, NASCAR has expanded globally, with series in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Brazil and Europe, and this weekend’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum is the perfect exhibition-style event to jump start the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. This year is also packed with some exciting new changes to the schedule with the series competing for the first time on a street course in Chicago, and also throwing it back to its roots with the return of North Wilkesboro hosting the All-Star race.
“As we prepare to celebrate our 75th anniversary season, we are committed to delivering a schedule that acknowledges the deep history and tradition of our sport while establishing a bold future that brings the best racing in the world to new markets and new fans,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Development and Strategy.
Don’t miss a minute of the action this weekend, as practice for the Busch Light Clash will be on Saturday, Feb. 4 from 6-8 p.m. ET, followed by Busch Light Pole Qualifying at 8:30 p.m. ET – both events will be televised on FS1.
Time to Clash in the Hollywood Hills
This weekend’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum will be the 45th running of the annual non-points exhibition race that has been hosted by the NASCAR Cup Series since 1979.
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is the third different venue to hold the Busch Light Clash, joining Daytona International Speedway, where it was hosted from 1979 to 2020 and the DAYTONA Road Course which hosted the event in 2021.
In total, 24 different drivers have won the Busch Light Clash since the inaugural race back in 1979. NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt leads the NASCAR Cup Series in Clash wins with six victories (1980, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995).
Last season’s inaugural event at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was won by Team Penske’s Joey Logano, his second victory in the season-opening exhibition race (2017, 2022). With Logano’s win, he became the 12th different driver to win the Clash multiple times; joining Dale Earnhardt (1980, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995), Dale Jarrett (1996, 2000, 2004), Kevin Harvick (2009, 2010, 2013), Tony Stewart (2001, 2002, 2007), Denny Hamlin (2006, 2014, 2016), Neil Bonnett (1983-1984), Ken Schrader, (1989-1990), Jeff Gordon (1994, 1997), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2003, 2008), Jimmie Johnson (2005, 2019), and Kyle Busch (2012, 2021).
The 2022 Busch Light Clash also saw five lead changes among three drivers during the scheduled 150 laps; with Kyle Busch (64 laps led), Tyler Reddick (51) and Joey Logano (35) each spending time out front.
There are six former Busch Light Clash winners entered in this weekend’s race, led by Denny Hamlin (three: 2006, 2014, 2016) and Kevin Harvick (three: 2009, 2010, 2013) with three victories each. The other four previous winners are Kyle Busch (2012, 2021), Joey Logano (2017, 2022), Brad Keselowski (2018) and Erik Jones (2020).
NASCAR Next Gen is ready to set some more records
After a record-blistering debut last season, the Next Gen car returns for another action-packed 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Announced in a competition briefing with media during preseason, NASCAR has made some changes to the rear of the Next Gen car to improve safety during impacts. The updates have been implemented by the teams, and the industry is ready for the close, side-by-side racing fans have come to love this weekend in the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. ET.
Last season, the Next Gen car exceeded expectations on the competition-side. Below are just a few of the accolades the Next Gen car produced in 2022.
- Series-Most Race Winners (19) In A Single Season: The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season produced the series-most different winners (19) in a single season (1949-2022). The 2022 season tied the NASCAR Cup Series record of the most different winners in a single season (19) all-time; joining 1956, 1958, 1961 and 2001 with 19 different winners each. Chase Elliott led the NASCAR Cup Series in wins in 2022 with five victories.
- Most First-Time Winners In A Season (Five): The most first-time NASCAR Cup Series winners in a single season in the Modern Era (1972-2022) is five and it has happened four times: 2001, 2002, 2011 and 2022.
- 22 of the 36 Races (61%) Won By Drivers Under The Age Of 30: The youth movement was undeniable in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2022, as 12 different drivers under the age of 30 visited Victory Lane in 22 of 36 races (61%). Austin Cindric was the youngest Cup winner of 2022 at the age of 23.
- Second Closest Average Margin Of Victory Since Advent Of Electronic Scoring (1993): The average Margin of Victory for the 36 races of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season was 1.011-seconds – the second-closest average Margin of Victory since the advent of electronic scoring in 1993 – behind only the 2014 season (0.909 sec.). The closest finish of the 2022 season was the 0.036-second victory Austin Cindric (winner) had in the DAYTONA 500 over Bubba Wallace (second)
- Series-Most Green Flag Passes For The Lead All-Time: The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season produced 1,544 green flag passes for the lead (GFPL), the series-most green flag passes for the lead in a single-season since the Loop Data statistic was initially tabulated in 2007 (the last 16 seasons). The Talladega Superspeedway NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race on October 2, 2022, produced the most green flag passes for the lead in a single event in 2022 at 190 green flag passes for the lead.
- Nine Races Set Records In Green Flag Passes For The Lead In 2022: A total of nine different NASCAR Cup Series races have set records in green flag passes for the lead this season; including Circuit of The Americas (30 GFPL), Atlanta-1 (141 GFPL), Las Vegas-1 (57 GFPL), Bristol Dirt (20 GFPL) Darlington-1 (28 GFPL), Kansas-1 (41 GFPL), Charlotte (64 GFPL), Nashville (47 GFPL) and Las Vegas-2 (46 GFPL).
- Green Flag Passes Up 6.36% Year-Over-Year: In a year-over-year comparison (2021 to 2022), the 2022 season produced an increase in total green flag passes throughout the field of +6.36%. (Total GFP – 2021 = 115,056 GFP; 2022 = 122,869 GFP). A total of 20 of the 36 races in 2022 have a positive year-over-year percentage in total green flag passes (55.5%).
- Seven Races Set Records In Total Green Flag Passes: Seven different races this season have set records in total green flag passes – Atlanta-1 (6,439), Richmond-1 (3,072), Bristol Dirt (2,703), Nashville (2,470), Road America (2,080), Richmond-2 (3,559) and Watkins Glen (3,141).
L.A. Memorial Coliseum is prepared for NASCAR’s return
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has been a familiar name in sports for nearly 100 years, having been home to two Olympic Games, two NFL Super Bowls, the 1959 World Series and several collegiate and professional teams such as the USC Trojans, UCLA Bruins, the Los Angeles Rams, the Raiders and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It has also hosted many memorable and historic events that include the first ever Papal Mass by John Paul II in 1987, Nelson Mandela’s return to the United States and sold-out concerts by big names like the Rolling Stones and Metallica.
Its size and location, combined with its history, has made it iconic, even earning a State and Federal Historic Landmark title in 1984.
Last season, NASCAR added its name to the prestigious list of sports entities that have competed at the historic hallowed grounds in L.A. and this season, looks to return to turn up the excitement even more. Just like last year, the Coliseum has been transformed from its typically gold and USC cardinal-painted football field to a quarter-mile short track where drivers will battle it out in a unique exhibition-style event to open up the 2023 season.
“With more than four million viewers, and really breaking through in a pop culture mecca like Los Angeles, the inaugural Clash at the Coliseum did everything it was intended to do and then some,” said Bill Wanger, FOX Sports EVP, Head of Programming and Scheduling. “It energized the sport, delivered new eyeballs and kicked off the season in grand fashion. We can’t wait to do it all again in 2023.”
Currently, 36 different drivers are entered to compete for the win this weekend, including last season’s victor Team Penske’s Joey Logano. Logano will look to defend his win this weekend and become just the fifth driver all-time and the first since 2010 to win consecutive Clash races; joining Kevin Harvick (2009-10), Tony Stewart (2000-01), Ken Schrader (1990-91) and Neil Bonnett (1983-84).
This weekend’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum will be on Sunday, Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
The Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum welcomes a powerhouse list of performers
Last season at the inaugural Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, NASCAR welcomed some of the music industry’s biggest names to help kick off a new era for the sport and this weekend’s exhibition race performances will be no different. As NASCAR looks to ring in its 75th Diamond Anniversary at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Wiz Khalifa, Cypress Hill, Cheat Codes and Dixie D’Amelio will be performing to make sure fans are on their feet around the clock.
Latino American hip-hop group Cypress Hill, a group native to California, will be the first to take the stage for the pre-race concert. Their versatile music that has incorporated Spanish and Latin American influences along with classic hip-hop and alternative rock will be sure to get fans revved up for what will be a great day of racing.
“NASCAR drivers have the mentality of taking it to the limit on every lap, and we take the same approach with our music,” said Cypress Hill co-founder Sen Dog. “We’re excited to have NASCAR return to our back yard, and we look forward to bringing some South Gate style to all of the NASCAR fans at the LA Coliseum.”
Keeping the party going during the race break will be none other than rapper Wiz Khalifa. The multi-platinum selling, Grammy and Golden Globe-nominated artist is excited to be a part of the action this year.
“The NASCAR cars will bring the noise, and I’ll bring the party,” Khalifa said. “We’re going to have a great time at the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, and I can’t wait to see everybody there.”
Closing out this power-packed lineup will be DJ phenomenon Cheat Codes with a special performance by Dixie D’Amelio. The Los Angeles based trio, Cheat Codes, will be performing during the caution breaks and making sure fans never have a dull moment with their music that goes through genres of electronic, dance, pop and country. D’Amelio, a talent with influences in many realms such as music, social media and television, will be joining the Cheat Codes for a performance of “I’ll Remember.”
Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum Format for 2023
The NASCAR Cup Series will be back in L.A. to kick off its 75th anniversary at the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum on Feb. 5 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM Radio. With a new season, comes a new format to keep everyone on their toes.
In 2023, the field was open to 40 entrants to participate in the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum and heading into the weekend, 36 drivers are entered (click this link to view the Preliminary Entry List).
Although 36 drivers will be making their way to LA to attempt to win at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, only 27 will be making it through to the Main Event, having only three opportunities to do so.
- There will be four heat races consisting of 10 drivers. The top five finishers in each heat will advance to run in the Main Event, filling 20 positions on the final grid.
- Positions 21 through 26 in the starting lineup of the Main Event will be set by drivers that have raced their way in by finishing in the top-three in either of the two Last Chance Qualifier Races.
- The 27th and final position in the Main Event is reserved for the driver who finished the highest in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season points standings who did not transfer on finishing position in the Heat Races or Last Chance Qualifier Races.
Racing for medals is new for NASCAR
A NASCAR first will occur on Sunday, Feb. 5. The sanctioning body announced this year that the top-three finishers in the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum will be awarded gold, silver and bronze medals.
The medal ceremony will take place on a podium in Victory Lane, which is located beneath the Olympic cauldron at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s senior vice president for racing development and strategy, will present the medals to cap this historic event.
“These will be tremendous prizes for our drivers who are competing inside a venue that’s hosted two Olympic Games and is preparing for a third,” Kennedy said. “Not only do the medals honor the rich tradition of this stadium, but they also provide a special element unique to NASCAR’s 75th anniversary.”
Jostens will produce these exquisite medals, along with the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum Trophy that’s presented to the winner of the season-opening exhibition. Each custom-crafted keepsake features the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum logo beautifully embossed on one side. The other side features the Coliseum’s centennial mark and the NASCAR 75th Anniversary logo.
Busch Light Clash: By The Numbers
Below are key statistical numbers stemming from the Busch Light Clash events from 1979-2023:
.013 – Closest Margin of Victory in seconds by Kyle Busch over Tony Stewart in 2012, the closest margin in the Clash at Daytona history
.058 – Second closest Margin of Victory in seconds by Kurt Busch over Jamie McMurray in 2011, the second-closest margin in the Clash at Daytona history
.080 – Third closest Margin of Victory in seconds by Dale Earnhardt over Sterling Marlin in 1995, the third-closest margin of victory in the Clash at Daytona history
.877 – The 23rd closest Margin of Victory (in seconds) all-time for the Busch Light Clash exhibition race, and the closest at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum by Joey Logano over Kyle Busch in 2022.
1 – Fewest laps led by a winner, one and it has occurred nine times – Rusty Wallace (1998), Neil Bonnett (1983-84), Dale Earnhardt (1980), Dale Jarrett (2000 and 2004), Kevin Harvick (2009) and Erik Jones (2020) – all at Daytona International Speedway – Kyle Busch (2021) at Daytona International Speedway Road Course.
2.75 – Best average finish in the Clash – Dale Earnhardt holds the best average finish of any driver with multiple starts.
3 – Number of different venues the Busch Light Clash event has been held – Daytona International Speedway, Daytona International Speedway Road Course, and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
4 – Number of drivers to win the Busch Light Clash from the pole or first starting position – Darrell Waltrip (1981), Bill Elliott (1987), Ken Schrader (1989) and Denny Hamlin (2014).
5 – Drivers who have won the event in their first appearance – Buddy Baker, 1979; Dale Earnhardt, 1980; Jeff Gordon, 1994; Dale Jarrett, 1996; Denny Hamlin, 2006.
6 – Most Busch Light Clash wins all-time – Dale Earnhardt, the series leader (1980, ‘86, ‘88, ‘91, ‘93, ‘95).
7 – All-time fewest starters in the field for the Busch Light Clash (1981)
11 – Most number of starts before winning the event – Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin.
14 – Highest number of different leaders in the Busch Light Clash event (2009, Daytona International Speedway).
22 – Highest number of wins by a manufacturer in the Busch Light Clash – Chevrolet.
22 – Most consecutive starts in the Busch Light Clash by a driver – Jeff Gordon (1994-2015).
27 – Kevin Harvick’s starting position in 2009, the lowest by a race winner in the event’s history.
28 – Number of lead changes in the 2011 event, highest number since race began in 1979.
47 – Most laps led by the winner of a Busch Light Clash event – Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2008 at Daytona.
64 – Most laps led by a driver that did not win the Busch Light Clash event – Kyle Busch in 2022 at the LA Memorial Coliseum.
197.802 mph – The fastest average speed of the race for the Busch Light Clash – in 1987 at Daytona International Speedway and won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott.
NASCAR Fan Rewards Launches as Part of 75th Anniversary Season
NASCAR is home to the most loyal and passionate fans in all of sports, and now fans are being rewarded for that loyalty. As part of its 75th Diamond Anniversary season, NASCAR has launched NASCAR Fan Rewards, a free program that rewards fans for simply engaging with the sport they love.
“Our fans are the reason we race week in and week out, so we wanted to show our appreciation by creating this free program that rewards them for doing what they’re already doing – connecting with the sport they love,” said Pete Jung, NASCAR senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “The best part is, the more fans engage, the more rewards they will earn towards things such as merchandise, gift cards and even race tickets.”
There is no cost to join the rewards program. Fans can visit nascar.com/fanrewards, create an account and start earning points towards rewards immediately. For those fans who already have a NASCAR.com account, they can simply opt-in to NASCAR Fan Rewards via their profile page. Once points are earned, fans can redeem them for items such as race tickets, VIP experiences, autographed merchandise and gift cards, or even donate to the NASCAR Foundation.
Some ways to earn points towards rewards include:
- Watching Races from Home: Fans can check in on the NASCAR.com (desktop, mobile app, or mobile web) leaderboard during any CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, Xfinity Series, or Cup Series race
- Attending NASCAR Races: Fans can check in from the NASCAR Track app
- Playing NASCAR Fantasy Live
- Participating in Weekly Trivia: Available via the NASCAR Fan Rewards dashboard each week
- Purchasing Race Tickets and Camping: Points are earned automatically when fans purchase tickets or camping at any NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series, Xfinity Series, or Cup Series race
- Visiting the NASCAR Hall of Fame
- Purchasing Merchandise from the NASCAR.com Shop
To help launch the program and generate awareness among fans, NASCAR and Spire Motorsports will collaborate to showcase a special NASCAR Fan Rewards paint scheme on the No. 77 Chevrolet driven by Ty Dillon during the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum on Feb. 5.
For further information on the NASCAR Fan Rewards program and a full list of ways to earn points and rewards, visit nascar.com/fanrewards.
NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
NASCAR announces rule modifications for 2023 season – To stay on par with a new season, NASCAR announced on Tuesday that there will be some changes to the rule book. One of the changes fans can expect to see implemented this season is on road courses – there will no longer be caution flags during Stage breaks in the NASCAR Cup Series. The decision to remove stage cautions came after a review of Fan Council Data and industry discussions. Stage points will still be awarded, but there will no longer be a caution period to slow down the action.
The second change tilts its hat towards Ross Chastain’s “Hail Mary” move at Martinsville Speedway last season that locked him into the Championship 4. NASCAR will not be adding new language to the rule book but instead will enforce rule 10.5.2.6.A which states: “Safety is a top priority for NASCAR and NEM (NASCAR Event Management). Therefore, any violations deemed to compromise the safety of an Event or otherwise pose a dangerous risk to the safety of Competitors, Officials, spectators, or others are treated with the highest degree of seriousness. Safety violations will be handled on a case-by-case basis.” If a driver attempts an unsafe maneuver, officials will issue a time penalty.
For more information on rule modifications in 2023, click here.
Garage 56 project Le Mans 24 lineup announced – An iconic trio will be behind the wheel of a modified Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the Garage 56 entry for this year’s Le Mans 24 – Jimmie Johnson, Jenson Button and Mike Rockenfeller.
The multifaceted group will each bring unique knowledge to the team as Johnson is most familiar with stock car racing, Button has a background in Formula 1 and Rockenfeller has two Le Mans 24 wins under his belt.
They will start their 24-hour race at Circuit de la Sarthe on June 10-11 in Le Mans, France.
“Since the beginning of the Garage 56 project, it has been our goal to partner with the top racers in the world to represent us in Le Mans,” said Jim France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “The lineup of Jimmie, ‘Rocky’ and Jenson is everything we could have dreamed of – three elite drivers who have won at the highest levels of motorsports worldwide. As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of NASCAR, we are honored to have these world-class champions help bring the sights and sounds of a NASCAR race car to fans in Le Mans, and across the world.”
Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams named Honorary Starter – USC quarterback Caleb Williams amassed a highlight reel of amazing plays inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2022. His first Coliseum highlight of 2023 will be waving the green flag for NASCAR’s first race of its 75th anniversary season.
The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner has been named the Honorary Starter for the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum on Sunday, Feb. 5. The season-opening exhibition airs live on FOX, with the Main Event beginning at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.
In December, Williams became the eighth player in USC’s storied history to win the Heisman Trophy. He led the nation with 42 touchdown passes and threw for 4,537 yards for a team that won 11 games. Moreover, Williams’ elusiveness made him a threat on the run, as he rushed for 442 yards and six TDs, while also creating opportunities for his teammates as he scrambled out of the pocket.
Now Williams will create the memory of a lifetime participating in NASCAR’s highly anticipated return to the LA Memorial Coliseum.
Rob Lowe named Grand Marshal of NASCAR’s Busch Light Clash – NASCAR has announced that the world-renowned actor, author and podcaster, Rob Lowe, will be the Grand Marshal for the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum. He’ll say, “DRIVERS, START YOUR ENGINES!” before the first race of NASCAR’s 75th anniversary season and set the stage for an evening to remember at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Main Event begins shortly after 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT, and all the action will be shown live on FOX, where Lowe currently stars in and produces the highly acclaimed 911: Lone Star. It has been consistently one of the top-rated shows in all of television, and Season 4 premieres this month.
“This is shaping up to be another incredible event in the heart of Los Angeles,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s senior vice president for racing development and strategy. “Rob Lowe’s body of work is nothing short of remarkable, and we can’t wait for him to begin the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season in style.”