The NASCAR Cup Series unofficially kicks off its 75th season tonight with the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Clash returns to the quarter-mile, LAMC for the second consecutive year, which will once again serve as the shortest track on the Cup Series circuit. Last year’s inaugural edition was won by Joey Logano, who was able to pass Kyle Busch late and hold him off for the victory.
Driver to Fade:
2022 was a rough year for Brad Keselowski, as he mustered just 1 top 5 and 6 top 10 finishes in his first season with RFK Racing. Last year’s Clash also resulted in a pretty poor showing for Keselowski, as he was consistently one of the slowest throughout Practice, Qualifying, the Heat Races, and the Last Chance Qualifiers, resulting in him not even transferring into the main race. If Practice was any indication yesterday, Keselowski has yet to figure out this track, which is why we predict he won’t qualify for the main event for the second straight year.
In his first, full-time Cup Series season driving for Kaulig Racing last season, Justin Haley had a respectable showing, with 3 top 5’s, 4 top 10’s, and 22 top 20 finishes. Although he may not be particularly renowned for his short track prowess, Haley had great speed in the Clash last year, showing great pace in Practice and Qualifying, as well as winning his Heat Race, before getting caught up in accident during the race and finishing 19th. Haley has continued to show that speed at the Clash this season, being one of the fastest in both Practice and Qualifying and will start from the Pole in his Heat Race. A win in the main event is certainly within reach for Haley, but a top 10 finish is a lock tonight.
Fresh off of a 6th place finish in the Championship Standings last year, William Byron is looking to build off of his 6th place finish in the 2022 Clash, where he gradually improved from Practice, going from 22nd in Practice to finishing 2nd in his Heat Race to finishing 6th in the Main Event. Byron has continued his momentum into the 2023 Clash, where he has shown great speed early on, as he will be starting on the Pole for one of the four Heat Races this evening. Byron is a former Martinsville winner and knows how to get the deal done at short tracks, so he will 100% be a threat tonight in the Main Event. He may not come away with a win, but he will certainly be in the top 10 by race end.
After 15 seasons racing the 18 car for Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch makes his long awaited debut tonight driving the 8 car for Richard Childress Racing. Busch was one of the best drivers at the LAMC last year, rolling right off the truck with a ton of speed. Busch was one of the fastest in Practice, the fastest in Qualifying, winner of a Heat Race, and led 64 laps on the way to a runner-up finish in the Main Event. Busch has a huge chip on his shoulder to prove some doubters wrong after leaving his old, long-time team and he is already starting off on the right foot this weekend, as he was fast in Practice yesterday and Qualified in second place, which means he will start from the Pole in one of tonight’s Heat Races. We predict that Busch will finish one spot higher than last year and take a massive bow as he brings home the victory in tonight’s Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum!