What will happen in Clash at Coliseum? Here is what some drivers predict

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Chaos or calm? The predictions from drivers vary as they look ahead to Sunday’s inaugural Clash at the Coliseum exhibition race.

Not since 1971 has NASCAR’s premier series raced on a quarter-mile track (Bobby Allison won and Richard Petty was second at Bowman Gray Stadium). Never before has NASCAR raced in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a venue that has hosted the Olympics, Super Bowl and World Series, among other events.

One thing is certain. NASCAR knew that putting 36 cars on the track together was too much. So, there will be 23 cars in the 150-lap main event. That just means the intensity could build in the heat races and last chance qualifiers to advance to the main event.

So, what will the racing be like this weekend? No one is certain, but drivers have their opinions. Here is what they said:

Alex Bowman

“The Coliseum is going to be super interesting. I ran the (K&N Pro Series )East race at Bowman Gray Stadium years ago. It was a better race than I would have thought it would have been back then. I think the Cup cars at the Coliseum, especially the new Cup car, should put on a great show. I think that car is really going to thrive on a short track like that. So I’m excited for it.”

Chase Briscoe

“With a quarter-mile track, I think we can expect a lot of beating and banging and maybe even some tempers by the end. That’s typically what we get at these short tracks. I’d like to say it’s the first race, so everyone will take it easy, but, after heat races and everything, I wouldn’t be surprised if a few guys had their feelings hurt. We’re all racers and we want to win, so it’ll for sure be a good show for everyone watching.”

Kyle Busch

“I have no idea what it’s going to be like. Top speed is probably going to be around 60 mph and the low speed in the corners may be 20 mph. It’s going to be action-packed. We aren’t going to be able to spread out and get away from each other. We are going to be all over the top of each other’s bumpers and doors. Double-file restarts are going to be really tight, and there’s going to be a lot of fenders bent and probably feelings hurt.”

William Byron

“This race isn’t that long, so you are not going to have a lot of chances to kind of give and take. I think it is going to be a lot more take for most of these guys, but I mean overall I think it is good to pick and choose your battles and what you think it important. If you have the pace in the car and the speed to pass guys, then it is going to be a lot easier than trying to defend. I mean if you are defending you are kind of at the mercy of the guy behind you.”

Ross Chastain

“I grew up racing on a 3/8th mile, pretty flat asphalt track called 417 Speedway (Punta Gorda, Florida) and that’s probably the closest thing I can relate it to, maybe Auburndale Speedway (Florida). We’ll all learn when we get there, that’s for sure. It’s more than a race. We are there to put on a show, and with the acts that are performing, we are there for racing and entertainment.”

Cole Custer

“There are so many unknowns going into this race, I don’t think anybody knows what to make of it. Looking at the racetrack, I think it’s pretty much a promise that somebody’s going to be in a fight on the frontstretch. It’s a really tight racetrack, it’s going to be a lot of beating and banging, it’s going to be fighting over space and trying to get to the front any way possible so you can transfer through to the next race.”

Chase Elliott

“I’m excited to get the season going. The Coliseum is a great venue, and I think it’s going to be a fun event. That’s what it was intended to be, a fun and exciting event to kick off our season, and I think it’s going to do exactly that. If you’re going to try something, the Clash is a good race to go and try it because there’s no points involved. This event has a lot of potential to be a home run for our sport. Hopefully it’s entertaining and people have fun watching at home on TV or from the stands.”

Denny Hamlin

“I don’t know how we’ll make a pass there without clobbering into the person in front of us, which might be what we have to do, but there’s not much to learn from there to be honest (for the rest of the season). With that being said, I do think it is a great momentum builder to start our season. It’s a great venue. Certainly, there is a lot more hype around the Clash this year than any other year that I’ve been involved with the sport.”

Kevin Harvick

“As we go to the LA Coliseum this year, really the event is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing and that’s creating conversation about our sport. It’s given us a topic of conversation throughout the offseason to go on top of the Next Gen car.

“I think as you have events like that, I think it’s important to realize that sometimes it’s about exposing  your sport to new people and trying to create new fans and having cool events at cool venues or different racetracks, and creating that story that doesn’t depend on the race.

“I think for me, obviously, the race is going to be a part of the weekend just because for the fact that I’m going to be sitting in the car and that’s what everybody is going to be there to see. But I think, in the end, you can have a great event without having a great race. I think the race could be spectacular, or it could be a disaster. I don’t know. But, in the end, I will still have my name on racing in the LA Coliseum, and I think that in itself is pretty cool.”

Corey LaJoie

“I think the one thing that everybody’s overlooking slightly is that we all are in a way, sometimes we don’t show it, are all professional racecar drivers. I think what you see on a quarter-mile bullring on a Saturday night isn’t quite the product you are going to see here on Sunday. … With the consideration of everybody’s pretty lean on equipment and cars right now, I don’t think you are going to see really bonehead moves or aggressive moves besides maybe some rutting and gauging for a transfer spot, but you’re not going to see people wiping each other out often I don’t think. I could be wrong.

“But I have seen races at Bowman Gray go green to checkered with no cautions. I think people are overlooking the potential that we could see very minimal amount of cautions. I think it will be a good durability test for these Next Gen cars for sure.”

Kyle Larson

I do get to race at a lot of short track dirt things, and I imagine (the Coliseum) would be a similar vibe to that, the crowd being right on top of the racetrack. Just feeling their energy and the atmosphere is going to be really cool, I think. It’s going to make the race seem more exciting than it’s already going to be. Looking forward to how they have it laid out, driving through the tunnel and stuff like that.”

Joey Logano

“You look at the way they’ve designed this racetrack, not just the fact that it’s small, but the way they put the curbing on the bottom. It just seems like it opens the door for more contact and sliding it down in there, so we will have to wait and see. There’s gonna be moments.

“There are transfers that they’re probably gonna do what they’ve got to do to get into the feature, and you’ve got no points on the line. I think it just kind of depends. Just because there’s no points on the line doesn’t mean that grudges don’t get carried over to the next race, either.”

Martin Truex Jr.

 “I think there will be a decent level of respect and guys trying to it kind of the right way. We’ll see. It could turn into a crash-fest, which I would hate to see. I don’t know. I really don’t have high expectations for either way. I think we are just going to go there and race and see what happens. I just think at a broader look at everything, and what the race is and what attention is getting, I hope that things go – I hope it’s exciting – but I hope it’s not just everybody crashing into one another all day.”

What takes place in a NASCAR appeal hearing? Here’s a look


Hendrick Motorsports is scheduled to have its appeal hearing at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday.

So what will happen in the appeal hearing? Here is a look at the process, based on the NASCAR Cup Rule Book.

NASCAR penalized Hendrick Motorsports for modifications to hood louvers. Those penalties were:

  • Docked Alex BowmanKyle Larson and William Byron 100 points and 10 playoff points each.
  • Suspended crew chiefs Cliff Daniels, Alan Gustafson, Rudy Fugle and Blake Harris four races each and fined each $100,000.
  • Penalized each of the four Hendrick teams 100 owner points and 10 playoff points.

Before the appeal hearing starts, both sides — in this case, Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR — must file a written summary presenting their case before the hearing.

The summary must not be longer than two single-spaced pages. Any attachments or appendices either side intends to present during the hearing must be included. Such attachments or appendices may include, but are not limited to, video, written statements, diagrams, photographs and charts.

The summary is to be filed by 5 p.m. ET two days before the beginning of the hearing. The summary shall be confidential and not released to the public. The Cup Rule Book says that releasing the summary to the public “may result in a penalty.”

The appeal will be heard by three members. They will come from a pool of panelists. The Cup Rule Book lists 19 panelists. That group includes former drivers Mike Skinner, Lake Speed, Bill Lester, Shawna Robinson and Lyn St. James, along with others in various roles in motorsports.

The Cup Rule Book states that “in seating an Appeals Panel, the Administrator shall take into consideration the panelists’ availability, background, professional experience and knowledge.”

The Cup Rule Book states “the burden rests on NASCAR to show that it is more likely than not that a violation … has occurred, and that the Penalty Notice issued is within the guidelines of the NASCAR Rules.”

Both parties are allowed in the hearing room while each side presents evidence. NASCAR goes first.

After both sides finish, there is a break before an optional rebuttal period. NASCAR has the chance to go first, followed by those appealing.

Once that is complete, NASCAR is permitted one last opportunity to “argue, explain, or present rebuttal on the facts and violation” to the appeal panel since NASCAR carries the burden of proof.

The appeal panelists may ask questions to either group or any witnesses at any time during the hearing.

Decisions by the three-member National Motorsports Appeals Panel do not need to be unanimous.

The National Motorsports Appeals Panel can affirm the penalty or adjust it. The panel can rescind some or all of the penalties or increase any or all penalties.

When NASCAR penalized William Byron 25 points and fined him $50,000 for spinning Hamlin during a caution in last year’s playoff race at Texas, Hendrick Motorsports appealed. The National Motorsports Appeals Panel rescinded the 25-point penalty but increased his fine to $100,000. NASCAR amended its rule book after the panel’s decision.

NASCAR does not have the option to appeal the panel’s decision. Those who filed the appeal can further appeal the panel’s decision to the Final Appeal Officer. That decision can’t be appealed.

Kaulig Racing and Denny Hamlin each will go through this process when their appeals are heard. Kaulig Racing’s appeal is April 5 for modifications to a hood louver. Hamlin’s appeal is April 6 for intentionally wrecking Ross Chastain on the last lap of the Phoenix race.

NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron returns to No. 1


After last Sunday’s crashfest at Circuit of the Americas, the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings experienced another jumble, and William Byron returns to the top spot.

Byron took fifth place in the chaos of the triple-overtime finish. He and winner Tyler Reddick were the top dogs in the Cup Series’ first road race of the year, Byron leading 28 laps and Reddick 41. No one else led more than two laps.

MORE: COTA finish — Entertaining and messy

Christopher Bell, last week’s No. 1, fell to fifth place after a 31st-place finish at COTA.

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. William Byron (second last week) — Byron, the season’s only multiple winner with two, finished fifth Sunday, marking his career first top five on a road course. He won the pole and the first stage.

2. Kyle Busch (third last week) — Busch continues to make his new partnership at Richard Childress Racing look good. His second-place run Sunday is his fourth top-10 finish in the season’s first six races.

3. Ross Chastain (sixth last week) — Despite being pushed around in the late going Sunday, Chastain persisted, re-emerging at the front to challenge the leaders and finish fourth. He has finished in the top four in all three COTA races and leads the points standings.

4. Alex Bowman (fifth last week) — Bowman continued his seasonal consistency, finishing third at COTA. He has finished in the top 10 in five of six races.

5. Christopher Bell (first last week) — Bell falls from the top spot in the rankings after being booted from Sunday’s race in a late-race accident. He dropped three spots in the Cup points standings to fifth.

6. Joey Logano (fourth last week) — Logano was mostly absent from Sunday’s front-of-the-pack jousting. He limped home in 28th and drops two spots in the rankings.

7. Tyler Reddick (unranked last week) — Reddick bursts into the rankings in a big way, easily outclassing the rest of the field on the way to victory at COTA. Challenged repeatedly by cautions that extended the race into three overtimes, he refused to give up the shot at his first win of the year.

8. Denny Hamlin (seventh last week) — Winless this year, Hamlin nevertheless keeps popping up around the front. Sunday’s late-race mess dropped him to 16th at the checkered flag.

9. Kyle Larson (eighth last week) — Larson seemed to be the race’s pingpong ball Sunday as he was bounced around during some of the tightest racing. He rallied to reach 14th.

10. Kevin Harvick (ninth last week) — Harvick’s final season has been a mix of the good and the bad, with two top-five runs, challenges for wins and a 33rd-place finish at Atlanta. He was 13th Sunday.

Dropped out: Brad Keselowski (10th last week).


Ross Chastain after COTA race: ‘Are you not entertained?’


One driver evoked the movie “Gladiator” after Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas. Another could be penalized for his actions after the checkered flag. Others expressed dismay at what the end of the event became.

A race that had been a thrilling duel devolved into a demolition derby over the final laps, leaving feelings as bruised as some of the cars.

While Tyler Reddick celebrated his first win of the season, other drivers stewed at what the racing became. Three overtimes were needed to finish the event due to incidents in the Turn 1 hairpin. Then again, it should not have been surprising, coming a week after Kyle Busch said: “We have completely lost any sense of respect in the garage between the drivers”.

“Are you not entertained?” Ross Chastain exclaimed, evoking Russell Crowe’s famous movie line. “This is what we love. I don’t love doing it, but … as a sport we’re not boring.”

Chastain is correct, the sport is not boring. But it’s fair to ask if the sport has crossed a line. Is it OK for races to end this way? If not, how to change it is a more difficult notion.

The action has been getting more aggressive this season. It was evident in the Clash at the Coliseum when drivers charged into the corners and slammed into the back of cars as a way to slow down to make the tight turns.

Sunday marked the third time in the last four road course races that the event went to overtime. In the previous 28 road course races — dating back to 2012 — only three went to overtime.

It makes one wonder what could happen this weekend when the Cup series races at Richmond Raceway, beginning a three-week stretch at short tracks that includes the Bristol dirt race and Martinsville.

“These cars are so tough,” Chastain said. “We can run into each other. There are just lines of cars all pushing each other (on the restarts) on the brakes. Nobody is going in there saying, ‘I’m going to hit somebody,’ but it’s just the leader has to check up and it just magnifies itself.”

Chastain’s teammate, Daniel Suarez, was not happy after the race. He ran into the back of Chastain’s car, knocking him out of the way as they entered pit road and then hit the back of Bowman’s car on pit road.

Section 4.4.B of the Cup Rule Book states that drivers can be penalized for “Intentionally damaging another vehicle on pit road.” Such a penalty could result in the loss of 25-50 driver and/or team owner points and/or $50,000-$100,000 fine. Violations may also result in a suspension.

Suarez restarted fifth in the second overtime restart but left the inside lane open. Alex Bowman, with Ross Chastain and Chase Briscoe aligned behind, charged and got beside Suarez as they approached Turn 1.

As Bowman slowed to make the tight turn, he was hit from behind and that sent him into Suarez, who clipped the left rear of Martin Truex Jr.’s car. Truex spun in front of Suarez and blocked his path, allowing the rest of the field to drive by and costing Suarez a top-five finish. Suarez finished 27th.

Suarez spoke briefly with Bowman before having a discussion with Chastain.

“The problem is if you don’t peek out and bomb the guy in front of you, the guy behind you does it to you,” Bowman said. “So what do you do there? It’s not right. The way we race is embarrassing, and if 12-year-olds were doing it, we’d be yelling at them, but here we are saying it’s the best thing in the world on TV.”

Chris Buescher simply called Sunday’s race “our first bumper car race of the year.”

Austin Dillon said: “The end of the race became a typical NASCAR road course race. It was just a mess. We drove up into the hill on a restart and everyone just pile drove into each other.”

Jordan Taylor, making his first Cup start as he filled in for an injured Chase Elliott, was struck by what the restarts were like.

“Every restart, you just get smashed in the front, rear, side,” he said. “So yeah, it was pretty much just survival.”


Sunday’s race was scheduled to go 68 laps but was extended to 75 laps by the late cautions.

Here is a look at the drivers who gained the most and lost the most positions from where they were running on Lap 68 to where they were running on Lap 75:

Most positions gained

18 – Kyle Larson (finished 14th)

17 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (finished 7th)

16 – Kevin Harvick (finished 13th)

12 – Todd Gilliland (finished 10th)

9 – Ryan Blaney (finished 21st)

8 – Noah Gragson (finished 20th)

7 – Austin Cindric (finished 6th)

6 – Corey LaJoie (finished 11th)

Most positions lost

23 – Daniel Suarez (finished 27th)

20 – Joey Logano (finished 28th)

15 – Kimi Raikkonen (finished 29th)

12 – Christopher Bell (finished 31st)

12 – Martin Truex Jr. (finished 17th)

10 – Aric Almirola (finished 30th)

9 – Jordan Taylor (finished 24th)

6 – Michael McDowell (finished 12th)


Tyler Reddick and Kyle Busch, who switched rides before this season, have both won in the first six races.

This marks the third year in a row that two drivers with new Cup rides have won so early in the year.

Last year, Austin Cindric and Ross Chastain each won in the first six races of the year. Cindric had driven a few Cup races previously for Team Penske but last year was his first year in the No. 2 car. Chastain did have the same crew chief and other crew members at Trackhouse Racing after it purchased Chip Ganassi Racing.

In 2021, Kyle Larson, in his first season at Hendrick Motorsports, and Christopher Bell, in his rookie Cup season with Joe Gibbs Racing, each won within the first four races of that year.

Winners and losers at Circuit of the Americas

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A look at winners and losers from Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas:


Tyler Reddick — Reddick needed patience and perseverance to stay in front through three overtimes to win Sunday’s race. Considering the supreme strength of his Toyota and his nearly flawless performance, losing first place in that calamity near the end would have been heartbreaking. Instead, he gives Toyota its first win of the year.

Kyle Busch — Busch never led, but he pushed through the field in the final stage, worked his way through the restarts and finished second.

William Byron — Byron appeared to have the only answer to Reddick’s power. He led 28 laps but was shuffled to fifth at the finish.

Todd Gilliland — Gilliland was in the top-15 mix through the three overtimes and worked his way to a 10th-place finish, the third of his Cup career.

Jenson Button — Former F1 champion finished 18th in his Cup debut, highest among the road course ringers. He told his team after the race on the radio that Cup drivers “are on it every second of the race” and also said that the race was a “roller coaster … a whole F1 season in one race.”


AJ Allmendinger — Always expected to be a threat at road courses, Allmendinger left the race after 60 laps with damage from an accident, finishing 34th.

Brad Keselowski — Spins limited Keselowski’s effectiveness Sunday, and he parked after 56 laps with a driveshaft issue, finishing 35th and dropping four spots in the points standings.

Bubba Wallace — The year has not started well for Wallace, who finished 37th Sunday and now has four finishes of 20th or worse in six races. He fell three spots in points.