Martin Truex Jr. Wins Wild Busch Light Clash At The Coliseumby Press Release February 7, 2023 0 comments
LOS ANGELES – In front of a large, enthusiastic crowd in one of the most iconic venues in sports, Martin Truex Jr. earned his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in more than a season in a rough-and-tumble all-thrills Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum Sunday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Truex’s No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota held off Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet by a mere .786-second leading the final 25 laps of the 150-lap annual non-points exhibition event marking the start of the NASCAR season. It was the former series champion Truex’s first career Busch Light Clash victory.
Dillon’s new teammate, two-time series champion Kyle Busch finished third in the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet – the three top-finishers feted on a podium with medals; reminiscent of the Olympic Games the venue has also famously hosted.
“Just really good race car, the guys did a really good job with this Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry,” the New Jersey native Truex said, “Last year was a pretty rough season for us with no wins, to come out here and kick it off this way, just really proud of these guys.
“Tonight, was just kind of persevere, not give up and just battle through and we found ourselves in the right spot at the end. Sometimes they work out your way and sometimes they don’t. Tonight, it went our way.”
The iconic HOLLYWOOD sign on the hills overlooking Turn 3 and the downtown Los Angeles skyline just beyond Turn 2 provided a unique setting to this event.
It was a packed house at the 100-year-old Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the race – lots of new fans mixed with the most loyal long-timers dressed in their best NASCAR fan t-shirts, driver jackets and hats excited to watch the NASCAR Cup Series show exactly the kind of high-drama short track action that has made the 75-year-old sport an American treasure.
The track was purpose-built inside the stadium bringing the sport to a new market, which appears to have whole-heartedly embraced.
And while this may be a pre-season exhibition, frustration was often in mid-season form Sunday night.
The race was slowed 16 times for cautions. Dillon had a late race run-in with Bubba Wallace, their cars colliding. Wallace got the worst end of the contact and was knocked from contending for the win to instead finishing 22nd in the 27-car field – despite leading 40 laps and challenging Truex as the race wound down.
“Obviously, Bubba knocked me through the corner,” Dillon said. “I was going to hit him back. Didn’t mean to turn him like that but when it gets down to the end, I think everybody knows what’s going on and that’s what you see at places like this and [North Carolina short track] Bowman Gray Stadium.”
Dillon acknowledged that Wallace may be upset with him and said they would talk.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five. Tyler Reddick was sixth in his debut in the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota.
New Englander Ryan Preece, 32, making his first start in the No. 41 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing led the most laps (43) but fell back with 24 laps to go, telling his crew there was some sort of electrical problem. He finished seventh.
Denny Hamlin, who won his Heat Race earlier in the day in his No. 11 JGR Toyota, finished ninth with driver William Byron in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet rounding out the top 10.
The four Heat and two Last Chance Qualifier races Sunday afternoon provided plenty of drama in setting the field for the Main Event under the lights – and under the fire of the Coliseum’s famed peristyle (torch). Both RFK Racing Fords – driven by team co-owner Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher were among the eight cars that didn’t qualify.
Joining the RFK drivers on that list of DNQs are Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Harrison Burton, Ty Dillon, Corey LaJoie, Cody Ware, J.J. Yeley and B.J. McLeod.
The NASCAR Cup Series next moves east to Florida for the Feb. 19 regular season-opening DAYTONA 500 at the Daytona International Speedway (Sunday, Feb. 19, 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2023, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR sanctions races in three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series™), four international series (NASCAR Brasil Sprint Race, NASCAR Mexico Series, NASCAR Pinty’s Series (Canada), NASCAR Whelen Euro Series), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour) and a local grassroots series (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races annually in 12 countries and more than 30 U.S. states. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).
About The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a living memorial to all who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War I, has been a civic treasure for generations of Angelenos. Located in the Exposition Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA, the Coliseum is a 77,500 capacity multi-purpose stadium which opened in 1923. Home to the USC Trojans, the legendary stadium has been named as one of the nation’s 40 best stadiums to experience college football by Sporting News, and ranked USC football at the Coliseum as the nation’s No. 3 stadium experience by StadiumJourney.com. Following a recent renovation in 2019, the stadium is now home to a newly added seven-story suite and press tower which includes luxurious suites, loge boxes, club seats, a new press box, and the rooftop 1923 Club with a 360-degree view of the Los Angeles basin; along with several upgrades including new seating, updated technology and concession stands, additional food options for guests, and much more.
The legacy of events and individuals hosted in nine-plus-decades reads like no other, including the only venue to host two Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and the Track and Field Competition for the Summer Olympics (Xth Olympiad in 1932, XXIIIrd Olympiad in 1984) and soon a third (XXXIVth Olympiad in 2028); home to college football’s USC Trojans since 1923 and the UCLA Bruins (1928-1981); professional football’s Los Angeles Rams (1946-1979 and 2016-2019); appearances by U.S. Presidents Franklin D Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan; and international dignitaries such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Pope John Paul II, the Dalai Lama, and Nelson Mandela, to name a few. Additionally, the Coliseum, designated a National Historic monument in 1984, has hosted some of the greatest acts in entertainment, including Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Prince, and many more. For more information please visit lacoliseum.com.
Source: NASCAR Communications
Photo Credit: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images