Martin Truex Jr. wins Southern 500 in shootout with Kevin Harvick

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Martin Truex Jr. kept Kevin Harvick at bay in a 12-lap shootout to win the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Truex grabbed his second win of the season and the fifth of the career, while Harvick finished second for the 23rd time since joining Stewart-Haas Racing.

“This is unbelievable,” Truex told NBC Sports. “Always loved this track, led a lot of laps here in my career. Something always happened.”

Truex led 28 laps Sunday night, bringing his career total at Darlington in the Sprint Cup Series to 126 laps, while leading 441 in the Xfinity Series.

The win is the second in the Southern 500 for Furniture Row Racing. The first came in 2011 with Regan Smith.

“So proud to get to victory lane with this group,” Truex said. “The pit crew was flawless tonight, they won us the race. They took a lot of heat last week for what happened (at Michigan).”

The win gives Truex, who has been snake-bitten many times this year, wins in two of the three biggest Sprint Cup races of the year – the Southern 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. If it weren’t for a difference of .01 seconds in the Daytona 500, Truex could have been the first triple crown winner since Jeff Gordon in 1997.

“We’ve had a terrible string of bad luck, we’ve had super fast race cars” said Truex, who has finished in the top 10 only four times since his Coke 600 win in May. “I knew when the bad luck would stop coming, we’d start racking (wins) off. Tonight we weren’t the best car for once and we actually won, so that’s really cool.”

Truex had to keep from making a mistake while being chased by Harvick, who started from the pole and led a race-high 218 laps around the track “Too Tough To Tame.” The win marks the first time Truex has won more than one race in a season.

Filling out the top five was Harvick, Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano.

MORE: Race results for the Southern 500

MORE: Point standings after Darlington

HOW MARTIN TRUEX JR WON: The No. 78 led the final 12 laps following a late caution, holding off Kevin Harvick for the victory.

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Kyle Larson led 45 laps and finished third in his 100th Sprint Cup start, a week after earning his first series win … Joey Logano finished fifth for his second top five at Darlington … Kasey Kahne finished seventh, earning his first top-10 finish in nine races (Sonoma) … Ryan Newman led nine laps, equaling his season high (Bristol II) and finished eighth.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Brad Keselowski led 45 laps but had to pit for a loose tire twice before Keselowski finishing eighth … Brian Scott brought out two cautions, on Lap 114 and Lap 204. The second was a result of Scott crashing on the frontstretch after contact from Tony Stewart … Stewart, in his last Darlington start, would finish 35th, 50 laps down after losing an engine on Lap 316 … Lap 214 saw Jimmie Johnson spin out of Turn 4 and hit the inside wall nose-first. Johnson finished 33rd, 39 laps down … On Lap 261, Greg Biffle pancaked the outside wall to cause the sixth caution of the night before finishing 36th … Defending race winner Carl Edwards was forced to pit on a restart with 34 to go with a left front tire rub. Edward finished 19th, a lap down … Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer brought out the 10th caution with 18 laps to go after wrecking in Turn 1. Almirola earned his fifth DNF of the season and finished 32, 21 laps down.

NOTABLE: Kevin Harvick led his 1,000th lap of the season tonight, giving him 1,000 laps led in each of the last three seasons. Harvick also surpassed 10,000 career laps led, making him the sixth active driver to reach the mark … Martin Truex Jr. is the 11th different winner of the Southern 500 in as many races … Kyle Larson has top-10 finishes in all three of his Darlington start.

WHAT’S NEXT: Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, Sept. 10 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Chase Briscoe, AJ Allmendinger in first on-track conflict of the season.

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LOS ANGELES — The first on-track conflict of the 2023 NASCAR Cup season?

Did you have Chase Briscoe and AJ Allmendinger?

They made contact during Saturday night’s practice session at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the Busch Light Clash.

Busch Clash practice results

Briscoe explained what happened from his point of view.

“(Allmendinger) was slowing down so much on the straightaway to get a gap (away from other cars),” Briscoe told Motor Racing Network. “I felt like I was beside him pretty far down the straightaway. I got in there a little hot for sure, but, honestly, I thought he was going to give it to me since we were in practice. Went into (Turn) 3 and he just drove me straight into the fence. Definitely frustrating. … Just unfortunate. We don’t have a single back-up car out there between the four of us at SHR. 

“Definitely will set us behind quite a bit. Just chalk it up in the memory blank.”

Asked what happened with Briscoe, Allmendinger told MRN: “He ran inside of me, so I made sure I paid him back and sent him into the fence.

“It’s practice. I get it, I’m struggling and in the way, but come barreling in there. I just showed my displeasure for it. That’s not the issue. We’re just not very good right now.”

Earlier in practice, Ty Gibbs had to climb out of his car after it caught on fire. Gibbs exiting the car safely. The Joe Gibbs Racing team worked on making repairs to his No. 54 car.

NASCAR will not race at Auto Club Speedway in 2024

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LOS ANGELES — Auto Club Speedway will not host a NASCAR race next year because of plans to convert the 2-mile speedway into a short track.

It will mark only the second time the Cup Series has not raced at the Southern California track since first competing there in 1997. Cup did not race at the track in 2021 because of the pandemic.

Dave Allen, Auto Club Speedway president, also said Saturday that “it’s possible” that the track might not host a NASCAR race in 2025 because of how long it could take to make the conversion. 

MORE: Details for Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum 

NASCAR came to the Fontana, California, track during the sport’s expansion in the late 1990s that also saw Cup debut at Texas (1997), Las Vegas (1998) and Homestead (1999).

Auto Club Speedway begins the West Coast swing this season, hosting the Cup Series on Feb. 26, a week after the Daytona 500. The series then goes to Las Vegas and Phoenix the following two weeks.

Auto Club Speedway has been among a favorite of drivers because of its aging pavement that put more of the car’s control in the hands of competitors. 

Allen said that officials continue to work on the track’s design. It is expected to be a half-mile track. With NASCAR already having a half-mile high-banked track (Bristol) and half-mile low-banked track (Martinsville), Allen said that a goal is to make Auto Club Speedway stand out.

“It has to make a statement, and making sure that we have a racetrack that is unique to itself here and different than any of the tracks they go to is very important,” Allen said. “Having said that, it’s equally important … to make sure that the fan experience part is unique.”

Kyle Larson, who won last year’s Cup race at Auto Club Speedway, said that he talked to Allen on Saturday was told the track project likely will take about 18 months. 

“I don’t know exactly the extent of what they’re doing with the track, how big it’s going to be, the shape or banking and all that, and I love the 2-mile track, but I think the more short tracks we can have, the better off our sport is going to be,” Larson said.

With Auto Club Speedway off the schedule in 2024, it would mean the only time Cup raced in the Los Angeles area would be at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. NASCAR has a three-year contract with the Coliseum to race there and holds the option to return.

Sunday’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum marks the second year of that agreement. Last year’s inaugural event at the Coliseum drew about 50,000 fans. NASCAR has not publicly stated if it will return to the Coliseum next year.

Sunday Clash at the Coliseum: Start time, TV info, race format

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LOS ANGELES – NASCAR is back and back at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Nearly three months after Joey Logano won the Cup title at Phoenix, Cup drivers return to action this weekend to run the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum exhibition race on Sunday night.

This marks the second consecutive year the series has raced inside the Coliseum, which has hosted the Super Bowl, World Series and Olympics.

Details for Sunday’s Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum 

(All times Eastern)

HEAT RACES: There will be four 25-lap heat races. Caution laps do not count. The top five from each race advance to the Busch Light Clash. The first heat race is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

LAST CHANCE QUALIFIERS: There will be two 50-lap qualifiers for drivers who did not advance to the Clash through their heat races. Caution laps do not count. The top three finishers in each of the qualifiers advance to the Clash. The 27-car Clash lineup will be finalized by adding one provisional spot for the driver highest in points last season not yet in the Clash field. The first of these two last chance qualifying races is scheduled to begin at 6:10 p.m.

CLASH STARTING LINEUP: To be set by heat races and the Last Chance Qualifiers. Winner of heat 1 will start on the pole for the Clash. Winner of heat 2 will start second. Winner of heat 3 will start third. Winner of heat 4 will start 4th. Runner-up in heat 1 will start fifth and so on.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 11 a.m. … Driver intros are at 7:50 p.m. … Invocation by Judah Smith, lead pastor of Churchome, at 8:07 p.m. … The USC Trojan Marching Band will perform the national anthem at 8:08 p.m. … Actor Rob Lowe will give the command to fire engines at 8:15 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to be waved by USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams at 8:20 p.m.

DISTANCE: The Clash is 150 laps (37.5 miles) on the 1/4-mile short track.

STAGES: There will be a stage break at Lap 75 (halfway in the Clash). Wiz Khalifa will perform during the break.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the event, beginning at 4 p.m. . … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Partly cloudy with a high of 63 degrees and a 1% chance of rain for the start of the heat races. Partly cloudy with a high of 61 degrees and a 1% chance of rain for the Clash..

LAST TIME: Joey Logano held off Kyle Busch to win the inaugural Clash at the Coliseum. Austin Dillon placed third. .

Catch up on NBC Sports coverage

New NASCAR season features several changes

Clash at the Coliseum provides a reset for RFK Racing 

Harrison Burton looks for progress in second year in Cup

Dr. Diandra: Muffling racecars won’t change fan experience

Drivers to watch at Clash in Coliseum

NASCAR announces rule changes for 2023

NASCAR outlaws Ross Chastain Martinsville move

NASCAR eliminates stage breaks for Cup road course events 

Looking back on 10 historic moments in the Clash

 

NASCAR Saturday schedule at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

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NASCAR drivers are scheduled to hit the track today in competitive mode for the first time in 2023.

Practice is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. on the oval inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Single-car qualifying for Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum is scheduled to begin at 8:35 p.m. (ET). The 36 drivers will be divided into three 12-driver groups for practice.

Cup practice groups

Cup qualfying order

Saturday’s qualifying will set the starting lineups for Sunday’s four 25-lap heat races. The top five finishers in each heat race will advance to the main event. Two 50-lap “last chance” races will follow, and the top three finishers in each of those events will join the feature field.

The 150-lap main event is scheduled at 8 p.m. (ET) Sunday.

For the second consecutive year, the Clash is being held on a purpose-built track inside the LA Coliseum, one of sport’s iconic venues. Joey Logano won last year’s race and last year’s series championship and will be among the favorites Sunday.

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Weather

Saturday: Intervals of clouds and sun. High 71.

Saturday, Feb. 4

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 2 – 11:30 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 6 – 8 p.m. — Cup practice (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 8:35 – 9:30 p.m. — Cup qualifying (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)