The 2022 NASCAR season officially began today as 36 teams and drivers hit the asphalt inside of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Practice and qualifying offered competitors a taste of the new quarter-mile track that will host the Busch Light Clash tomorrow evening.

With so many unknowns between the new car and new track, it was a guessing game as to who would climb to the top of the leader board. At the end of it all, it was Kyle Busch that found the fastest way around with a best lap of 13.745 seconds. That was just one piece of the puzzle though.

Tonight's qualifying session was used to determine which heat race each driver will be in on Sunday. Busch will be on the pole for the first heat race, Tyler Reddick has pole position for the second heat race, Justin Haley gets the top starting spot for the third heat race, and Joey Logano will be on pole for the fourth heat race.

The top four finishers from each of the heat races advance into the Busch Light Clash main event. The drivers who don’t qualify that way will compete in two last-chance qualifiers. The top three finishers in each LCQ race will also advance, for a total of 22 spots (16 from heat races, six from last-chance qualifying races). The final spot for the 23-car field is reserved for the driver who finished highest in 2021 points that has not yet qualified.

All three manufacturers and four different teams are represented in the four drivers that will start from pole. Just missing out on one of the top spots were Daniel Suarez, Cole Custer, Chase Elliott, and reigning series champion Kyle Larson. Those four will still have a front-row starting spot in their respective heat race.

"I never would have thunk it," Busch said of being fastest on Saturday. "It’s pretty cool. It’s just different with the opportunity to do something like this. NASCAR took a lot of flak on what this was going to look like and what it was going to be. But we’re having a great time. I’m looking forward to seeing what this place will look like tomorrow and have the opportunity to race this No. 18 Toyota and keep it up front."

Denny Hamlin will start 5th in the first heat race tomorrow, and was happy with how the new car has performed so far. "The car turned the corner just better than I thought," he said. "There was no way our old car was going to make it around these corners. But this one, we talked about how it's better for road course racing. These corners are very, very tight — tighter than anything that we have. It cornered quite a bit better than what I was anticipating."

The practice session earlier in the day was the first opportunity for teams and drivers to get on the quarter-mile track. The field was split into three group, with each getting 8-minute sessions throughout the afternoon. Drivers were trying to find out where the racing line would be and getting a feel for the cornering speed and brake points entering the turns.

Crew chiefs had their hands full trying to process all of the information that their drivers were giving, but it didn't take long for the cream to rise to the top. When practice concluded, it was Elliott and Kevin Harvick that stood at the top. There were not any incidents in the two hours of activity, but there was plenty of contact being made as the drivers experimented with their cars.

The action on Sunday begins at 3 PM ET with the four qualifying heat races, followed by the two last-chance qualifiers that will set the 23-car field for the main event, which begins at 6 PM on FOX.