Martin Truex Jr. wins caution-filled Clash at the Coliseum

Martin Truex Jr. led the final 25 laps holding off the chasing Richard Childress Racing duo of Austin Dillon and former teammate Kyle Busch to win the 150-lap Clash at the LA Coliseum under the lights.

Truex Jr. spent most of the race up front alongside Toyota teammate Bubba Wallace who led 40 laps including leading going into the halftime break after a two-lap shootout holding off Dillon. With seven laps to go Dillon dumped Wallace in turn one fighting over second place as Truex pulled away. Wallace ended up finishing 22nd.

 

Truex stated that there was a “lot of fire in my belly to change what we did last year” in reference to going winless in the 2022 season and just missing making the playoffs.

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, celebrates after winning the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum  (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

It’s a complete reversal of last year’s inaugural clash at the LA Coliseum where the 2017 Cup champion barely made the main event, was unable to pass and spun on his own on the final lap. Truex said Sunday’s race day from winning heat two before the main race onwards has been “a huge confidence booster” now going into Daytona.

A new and unexpected addition for NASCAR fans to this year’s Clash at the LA Coliseum was the top three drivers receiving honorary “Clash” medals post-race, in what was a nod to the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games previously held at the Coliseum, as opposed to just the race winner receiving a trophy. Truex additionally was awarded with a separate Clash trophy.

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, (centre) winner, Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Get Bioethanol Chevrolet, (right) second place and Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 8 BetMGM Chevrolet, (left) third place pose for photos on the podium after the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Dillon’s new teammate and two-time champion Kyle Busch experienced getting moved himself when with 65 laps to go, reigning champion Joey Logano drove deep into turn three and tagging Busch, spinning him around. Not at all pleased with the Team Penske driver’s actions Busch said post-race “Logano didn’t get hit by nobody. He just flat-out drove through me, so he’s got another one coming. I owe him a few.” Busch then impressively drove back up through the field from 25th to second before relinquishing the position to Dillon with four laps to go.

Kyle Busch, driver of the #8 BetMGM Chevrolet, spins after an on-track incident as Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Ross Chastain, driver of the #1 Worldwide Express Chevrolet, pass during the NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

Busch’s climb back through the field was all the more impressive given that this year’s race at the Coliseum dealt out 16 cautions, over three times as many compared with last year’s five, including being bombarded with yellows during the middle third of the race with many cars spinning out including AJ Allmendinger, Denny Hamlin, Ty Gibbs, and Kevin Harvick after being tagged, attempting to race around the extremely tight quarters arena.

Busch post-race said “we were spoiled” by last year’s race with Dillon adding there was “much more parody” this time around with the teams and drivers being more familiar with the track. Most of the race was also ran under the lights increasing the overall grip for the drivers compared to last year’s daytime running of the event.

A general view of confetti after the conclusion of the NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Busch went on to say that if they had used the old generation car in Sunday’s race, half of the radiators would have been knocked out with Hendrick Motorsport’s Kyle Larson adding that the current generation car is much stiffer and stronger in comparison.

It was actually New England’s Ryan Preece “Lightning” who led the most laps with 43 but shortly after getting bumped out of the way for the lead by Truex Jr. with 25 to go, his car experienced a temporary electrical problem and quickly fell back to fifth; Preece finished seventh. Preece had been Stewart-Haas Racing’s reserve driver in 2022 after competing full-time for three seasons for JTG Daugherty Racing.

Ryan Preece, driver of the #41 United Rentals Ford, drives during the NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Preece climbed through the stock car ranks by dominating on the short tracks in the New England region so Truex was “not shocked at all” to see him leading at the quarter-mile mile track despite being out of a full-time Cup ride last year.

Pole-sitter Aric Almirola led the opening 16 laps before being overtaken by Denny Hamlin. By lap 67 however he found himself being lapped by then leader Bubba Wallace.

It was a short lived race for Legacy Motor Club’s Erik Jones, previously known as Petty GMS Racing in 2022, after he made contact with Kevin Harvick, damaging the toe link, forcing him to retire.

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, and Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford, race during the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Photo by Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images)

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney had a rough ride of a race after being spun out twice, the first time in turn one in the opening stage of the race, with the second incident seeing him end up backwards in the turn two wall while running ninth.

Ty Gibbs and Todd Gilliland crossed swords for several laps knocking into each other’s fenders before on lap 43 AJ Allmendinger, an innocent bystander, would get wiped out by Gilliland after Gibbs ran into the back of him. Gilliland would then spin out Harvick on lap 72 before having the favour returned with 69 laps to go. Gibbs would retire with suspension damage.

Another draw for fans attending the Clash was the pre-race entertainment as well as the Clash’s halftime show. Cypress Hill performed ahead of pre-race ceremonies that had many bobbing their heads to the multi-platinum hip hop group.

The halftime show lived up to expectations with Wiz Khalifa performing a selection of his best hits including “Black and Yellow.”

As NASCAR celebrates its 75th anniversary, the biggest race of the season, the 65th running of the Daytona 500 is less than two weeks away, with the Daytona Duels taking place on February 16th starting at 7pm ET and the green flag for the Daytona 500 flying on February 19th at 2:30pm ET. You don’t wanna miss it!

Full race results  

  1. Martin Truex Jr.
  2. Austin Dillon
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Alex Bowman
  5. Kyle Larson
  6. Tyler Reddick
  7. Ryan Preece
  8. Ross Chastain
  9. Denny Hamlin
  10. William Byron
  11. Justin Haley
  12. Kevin Harvick
  13. Christopher Bell
  14. Noah Gragson
  15. Chase Briscoe
  16. Joey Logano
  17. Ryan Blaney
  18. Aric Almirola
  19. Daniel Suárez
  20. AJ Allmendinger
  21. Chase Elliott
  22. Bubba Wallace
  23. Todd Gilliland
  24. Michael McDowell
  25. Austin Cindric
  26. Ty Gibbs
  27. Erik Jones

Heat Winners

Heat 1 winner – Aric Almirola

Heat 2 winner – Martin Truex Jr.

Heat 3 winner – Denny Hamlin

Heat 4 winner – William Byron

First last chance qualifying race – Michael McDowell

Second last chance qualifying race – Chase Elliott

Featured Image: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, celebrates with the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Clash at The Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

How Charlotte’s 600 escalated into Talladega chaos

From Ryan Blaney causing The Big One, to Chris Buescher barrel-rolling down the infield grass, NASACR’s Coca-Cola 600 last weekend was far from the usually more tame and methodical 600 mile race and instead was one of the most dramatic and longest stock car races in recent history. 

This year’s “longest night in stock car racing” didn’t even start off like a typical Coca-Cola 600 as by the end of stage one there had been four cautions not including the stage ending caution for Chase Elliott’s stage one win.

Austin Cindric, driver of the No. 2 Menards/Cardell Cabinetry Ford, spins after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

In recent editions of the race, the first half or more has been comprised of long green flag runs and a strung out field but this race was not like the others. One large contributor to more spins in the race such as Kyle Busch spinning out as Daniel Suárez ran him tight in turns one and two in stage one, is that the new NASCAR Cup cars are much harder to save once the car steps out and begins spinning compared to the old 6th gen NASCAR. With little practice time before the races and spec parts that teams are not allowed to modify, not to mention the absence of in-car adjustments for drivers during the race, the challenge is only heightened.

Late on in stage two, Ryan Blaney spun out in front of the pack in turns one and two causing The Big One that is usually only seen at Daytona and Talladega. Over ten cars were caught up in the pile up.

Aside from the several spin-outs by drivers in the first two stages, there had been thrilling side by side action with many drivers fighting over positions throughout the field including for the lead with Suárez who would go on to take the stage two win after fending off Trackhouse Racing teammate Ross Chastain and Erik Jones.

Daniel Suarez, driver of the No. 99 CommScope Chevrolet, and Ross Chastain, driver of the No. 1 Advent Health Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The NASCAR drivers were racing in honour of fallen veterans as the Coca-Cola 600 runs on Memorial Day Weekend. During the stage two break, for the second year running, NASCAR brought the cars down pit road and parked them and paused the race to take a moment to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Drivers and  pit crews pause for a moment of remembrance in the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The second half of the race proved only to be more wild as the 16th caution of the night came out halfway in stage four when Chris Buescher, after piling into a spinning Daniel Suárez , was sent skidding across the infield grass before the car got hooked causing it to flip over wildly several times before coming to a stop upside down . Buescher’s car was righted by the AMR safety team. He was ok.

With two laps to go in the race Kyle Larson was holding off Chase Briscoe for the lead. Larson’s night had been a rollercoaster ride in itself. After qualifying 36th and making his way through to the top half of the field, Larson would get two pit equipment interference penalties in quick succession that sent him to the rear each time. His car also caught fire forcing him to take two emergency trips down pit road. He then spun out on old tyres in turn four in stage two after having led the race on the previous restart. With plenty of laps left and plenty of cautions to bunch up the field, Larson was able to finish third in stage three and get by Chastain, the stage three winner, in turn three to take the lead with 46 laps to go.

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, spins after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Larson’s amazing comeback would be halted when Briscoe spun out on his own in turns one and two with two laps to go as he sent it into turn one in an attempt to pass Larson.

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The first overtime restart saw Laron’s chance of another Coca-Cola 600 win come to an end as Austin Dillon had got alongside him in turns three and four before washing up and slowing them down before Hamlin and Chastain joined them to make it four wide coming off turn four heading to get the white flag. They would only see yellow as Dillon drifted up slightly and would get turned around off of Larson’s front bumper causing another multi-car crash down the front straightaway with Larson caught in it.

Instead it would come down to Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch for the 600 win on the next overtime restart. Polesitter Hamlin would race side by side with Busch for the first lap but would clear Busch in turns one and two on the final lap to finally win his first Coca-Cola 600.

Hamlin said: It’s so special. It’s the last big one that’s not on my resume. It meant so much.”

Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota, crosses the finish line ahead of Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Red White and Blue Toyota, to win the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

It was NASCAR’s longest Cup race in history in terms of distance with the drivers having raced for 619.5 miles (413 laps) before taking the checkered flag and was the third longest Coca-Cola 600 ever after having raced for five hoursthirteen minutes, and eight seconds. It was only 34 seconds shy of being longer than the second longest Coca-Cola 600 race in 2005. The first Coca-Cola 600 in 1960 had been the longest being five hours and thirty four minutes long.

The 2022 edition of the Coca-Cola 600 had been one of the most competitive and action packed thrillers in years and delivered a race on a weekend where the world was watching after the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indy 500 earlier that day, making it an unforgettable day in racing.

Full race results: 1st Denny Hamlin, 2nd Kyle Busch, 3rd Kevin Harvick, 4th Chase Briscoe, 5th Christopher Bell, 6th Tyler Reddick, 7th Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 8th Michael McDowell, 9th Kyle Larson, 10th Alex Bowman, 11th Harrison Burton, 12th Martin Truex Jr., 13th Ty Dillon, 14th Erik Jones, 15th Ross Chastain, 16th Todd Gilliland, 17th Aric Almirola, 18th Cody Ware, 19th BJ McLeod, 20th Joey Logano, 21st Cole Custer, 22nd Austin Dillon, 23rd Kaz Grala, 24th Noah Gragson, 25th Daniel Suárez, 26th Chris Buescher, 27th Justin Haley, 28th Bubba Wallace, 29th Ryan Blaney, 30th Brad Keselowski, 31st Kurt Busch, 32nd William Byron, 33rd Chase Elliott, 34th Austin Cindric, 35th Corey Lajoie, 36th Josh Bilicki, 37th Ryan Preece.

Featured Image: Chris Buescher, driver of the No. 17 Fifth Third Bank Ford, flips into the infield grass after an on-track incident during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022. (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images)

 

Virginia native Denny Hamlin captures fourth Richmond victory

Denny Hamlin took the lead with five laps to go and held off Kevin Harvick to win his fourth Richmond Cup race in his native state of Virginia.

NASCAR’s Toyota Owners 400 race came down to a split strategy showdown in the closing laps. Third place Denny Hamlin and fourth place Kevin Harvick were on a two stop strategy for the final stage of the race while leaders William Byron and Martin Truex Jr. had split the final stage in half.

As sun began to set and the laps got down to single digits, Hamlin was catching Byron by a second a lap, with Byron being on much older tyres. Byron had held a four second gap over Truex Jr with 25 to go but this began shrinking significantly inside 15 to go. Hamlin flew by Truex with six to go and sped by Byron on the inside on lap 396 of 400 to take the lead away. Harvick did appear to be catching Hamlin with two to go but after Harvick’s Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Aric Almirola got out of the way on the back straightaway on the final lap, Hamlin set sail for the checkered flag.

Denny Hamlin passes William Byron for the lead inside of five to go (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

After a roller-coaster start to the season, this was not just Hamlin’s first win of the year but his first top-10 finish of the season after seven races. This was also Toyota’s first Cup win of the season and was rather appropriate being the title sponsor of the race.

Denny Hamlin celebrating in victory lane (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

There were nearly more green flag pit stop cycles completed today than the first six races combined. Long green flag runs is often the way with Richmond and Sunday’s race was no exception. This gave extra weight to the two stop versus one stop strategies that played out during stage two and the final stage of the race but ultimately fresher tyres came out on top; partly due to Truex Jr. and Byron wearing each other out and faster lap down cars on fresher tyres taking away the inside lane that they wanted to run, allowing Hamlin and Harvick to gain more time on them.

It was a stellar day for the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota’s overall with all four running in the top seven at one point. Truex Jr. had worked his way to the front from the drop of the green flag and won stage two on the one stop strategy, the same strategy that arguably cost him the win in addition to getting stuck behind the wake of Byron’s Hendrick Chevrolet for the last 100 laps. This is despite being on 10 lap fresher tyres.

Martin Truex Jr. leading at Richmond (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch had worked his way to fourth but was black flagged with 50 laps to go for having tape over his grille that cost him a top-5 finish. Kyle Busch’s crew chief claimed the tape had been on there for 200 laps and were frustrated with NASCAR’s call in forcing them down pit road to remove it. Christopher Bell had led the field in the second quarter of the race and came home sixth.

The first quarter of the race was the Ryan Blaney show however. After securing the pole he led the first 100 laps and won stage one with Byron finishing second, before losing the lead in stage two. Last week’s winner Ross Chastain did not make friends with Blaney during the race. While fighting inside the top five towards the end of stage two, Blaney drove up alongside Chastain and pushed the watermelon man up the race track in turns three and four. Chastain returned the favour and pushed Blaney into turn one before Blaney veered to the right to a loss of grip and Chastain retook the position. Blaney had the final laugh as he gave Chastain a little shot into turn three late on in the race in and got by.

Ryan Blaney leading the field at the start of the race (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Team Penske teammate Joey Logano had made it up to second halfway through the race but the team’s jack became jammed underneath his car and would lose track position and only manage to recover to a top-20 finish.

The Roush Fenway Keselowski racing car’s of Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher had a good outing and were fighting for a top-10 spot for much of the race.

There would be a couple of crashes during the race. Lap 245 would see an caution a few laps after the start of the final stage due to a crash between Cody Ware, Erik Jones and Ricky Stenhouse Jr that left all parties upset. On lap 260 there would be another caution after contact between Austin Cindric and Cole Custer, causing Cindric to spin out. This was triggered after Ty Dillon had washed up into Custer in turn two as he came slightly down.

Part two of the Virginia tour takes place at Martinsville Speedway under the lights this Saturday night; another track that Hamlin has had great success at, winning five Cup series races at the half mile paperclip.

Top 10 finishing order of the Toyota Owners 400 

  1. Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  2. Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing Ford)
  3. William Byron (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
  4. Martin Truex Jr (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  5. Kyle Larson (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
  6. Christopher Bell (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  7. Ryan Blaney (Team Penske Ford)
  8. Alex Bowman (Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet)
  9. Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota)
  10. Austin Dillon (Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet)  

Featured Image: Denny Hamlin celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

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