NASCAR’s ‘significant investment’ into Clash at the Coliseum exceeds $1 million

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NASCAR will spend “significantly more” than $1 million to stage this weekend’s Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum, a NASCAR official confirmed Monday. 

“It’s been a significant investment by NASCAR,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer.

While he declined to reveal the cost of building a quarter-mile paved track inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, O’Donnell said of Sunday’s exhibition race: “We made a big bet on this, but we think it’s the right thing to do for the industry.”

More: How LA Coliseum was transformed for the Clash

He said during a conference call with reporters that more than 70% of the ticket buyers for the Clash had not purchased tickets to a NASCAR event before. O’Donnell also noted the six hours of broadcast coverage on Fox that NASCAR and the event will receive.

Whether the Clash is held annually in the Coliseum or moves elsewhere will be based on how this weekend’s event goes. O’Donnell hinted that there could be other locations to host the event, including some “outside the U.S.”

“When you look at investments, particularly from our standpoint, we’re going to be bold and aggressive if we feel like that’s a way towards future growth,” O’Donnell said.

He also noted there could be places that hark back to the sport’s roots that NASCAR could consider in the future for this exhibition race.

As for this weekend’s event, NASCAR announced various procedures:

  • Teams will be divided into three sessions for practice. Each group will have three eight-minute sessions. There are 36 cars entered. 
  • Qualifying order will be inverted based on last year’s owner points. That means reigning Cup champion Kyle Larson will be the last to make a qualifying attempt.
  • Caution laps will not count in the heat races, last chance qualifying races and 150-lap Clash. 
  • There will be a break at Lap 75 of the Clash. The break is expected to be about six minutes. 

NASCAR also announced Monday:

# NASCAR will allow Cup teams to change how they do pit stops beginning at Atlanta in March. A video by Joe Gibbs Racing showed both its tire changers going around the front of the car. Previously, the rear tire changer was required to go around the back of the car. O’Donnell said the delay in allowing this was to give all teams proper time to adjust.

# Cup teams will be divided into two groups for practice sessions at most events this year. Teams will be divided based on the performance metric from the previous race. That’s the same metric that was used to set the starting lineup when qualifying was not held. The metric will be used to determine the qualifying order within each group. The car with the best metric from the previous race will be last to make a qualifying attempt in its group. 

# NASCAR will allow teams to manage their backup cars early in the season before setting a rule in place after the West Coast swing in March. That could mean that a multi-car organization might not bring backup cars for all of its teams. With limited practice at most events, the likelihood of an organization destroying more primary cars than it has backups for at an event is unlikely. This is being done because each team is expected to have only five chassis per car number by Daytona instead of seven because supply issues.

# NASCAR is looking at a double-yellow line rule at Atlanta similar to the rule at Daytona and Talladega. No decision has been made yet. Cars that go below the double-yellow line at Daytona and Talladega to pass another car are penalized. Those that force another car below the double-yellow line at Daytona and Talladega to avoid being passed may be penalized. 

# The Xfinity Series field will increase from 36 to 38 cars this year.

# The Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash returns. The March 26 race at Circuit of the Americas will determine the four drivers for the first Dash 4 Cash race. Those four races will be:

April 2 – Richmond

April 8 – Martinsville

April 23 – Talladega 

May 1 – Dover 

# The Triple Truck Challenge returns to the Camping World Truck Series. Those races will be:

June 4 – Gateway

June 24 – Nashville 

July 9 – Mid-Ohio 

The June 11 race at Sonoma (the first time the Trucks have raced there since 1998) and June 18 at Knoxville (the only dirt race on the schedule) are not included in the Triple Truck Challenge.

 

 

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.