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Three Things We Learned From The Clash at the Coliseum

Written by Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri

After three months of the offseason, and one exciting Netflix Series premiered recently, NASCAR is back once again. 

We kicked off the season with an exhibition race in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, home to the USC Trojans Football team, temporarily revamped into a race track for the first weekend of NASCAR. As the season kicks off, let’s look at three things we learned from the clash.

No Love Lost between drivers

In the first race of the season where no points were on offer, the drivers certainly still gave it their all, with tempers flaring. 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr got into it with multiple drivers, pushing and bumping the #34 of Michael McDowell on the race track, as a result of a huge dive into the inside by McDowell. He also confronted John Hunter Nemechek during halftime, walking up to Nemechek’s car and giving his three cents on the issue. 

On the other side of the infield, Ty Gibbs was approached by Joey Logano post-race behind the #54 trailer, and the two got into a heated argument. Was it an incident that led to the passionate and intense conversation? 

On the restart, with ten laps to go, Gibbs pushed Logano to the outside, or in Logano’s words: “He just used me up, all the way to the wall.” The two certainly had different takes on the move, and expect Logano to serve payback sooner rather than later.

Is this the year for Toyota?

Last year, Toyota took five of their six drivers into the playoffs, and Christopher Bell was the lone Toyota driver that went all the way to the championship four. However, an unfortunate brake failure concluded yet another promising season that ultimately ended with disappointment. 

Even though this race can’t really prove much, being a short track in preseason, Toyota performed exceedingly well in the Clash with Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr, and Ty Gibbs all in the mix for the win. 

The Toyota drivers have come oh-so-close to the championship for the past couple of years, with 2021 coming down to a clutch pitstop by the #5 crew, which saw Kyle Larson jump in front of Hamlin and Truex on the money stop. 

2022 was not the best, with the #20 crew messing up in crunch situations, and Bell’s inability to pass led to a third place finish. 2023 was the heartbreaker, with the aforementioned brake failure concluding Bell’s stellar season.

Their performance at the Coliseum might be a preview of their capabilities in the 2024 season, if they can eliminate inconsistencies on pit road, and the unnecessary fights on the race track.

Time to find a new place for The Clash

The past couple of years of The Clash has been held at the LA Coliseum, and fans haven’t exactly been loving it. They have voiced the fact that the Coliseum is too short of a track to host a NASCAR race, and slow racing certainly doesn’t pique one’s interest. 

Parading in circles and basically having no ability to overtake, other than pushing and shoving your way through the field makes the race a difficult watch. Even though it isn’t an important race, and NASCAR’s fixes by having fewer cars on the track for the race, fans have been very vocal on social media about the failed gimmick. 

An even more obvious indication the Coliseum race is failing is the low attendance, even with free tickets offered by NASCAR, and the last-minute change from Sunday to Saturday certainly didn’t help either.

The next race will be the Daytona 500 season opener in Daytona Beach, Miami, on the 18th of February.


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