A new era in NASCAR begins this weekend when the Cup Series debuts the much-anticipated Next Gen car. The event this weekend will also be historic as it will take place inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on a quarter-mile asphalt oval. The Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum kicks off the start of the 2022 season. For the first time since 1981, the season will begin somewhere other than Daytona International Raceway.

This weekend’s Clash will be the 44th annual non-points exhibition race that has been hosted by the Cup Series since 1979. The theme surrounding the 2022 campaign is change, as new cars, new drivers, and new venues are added to the mix.

There are 36 drivers entered in the event, and all of them must qualify to drive in one of the four Heat races. Only 23 will earn a spot in the Main Event, with three opportunities to get in.

  • The first 16 positions in the starting lineup of the Main Event will be set by drivers that have raced their way in through the four Heat Races.
  • Positions 17 through 22 in the starting lineup of the Main Event will be set by drivers that have raced their way in through the two Last Chance Qualifier Races.
  • The 23rd and final position is reserved for the driver who finished the highest in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season points standings who did not transfer on finishing position in the Heat Races or Last Chance Qualifier Races.

The action begins on Saturday at 12:30 PM ET with the Busch Light Clash practice, which will air on FS2. At 8:30, single-car qualifying runs will take place on FS1. The four heat races will begin at 3 PM on Sunday (FOX) with the two last-chance qualifiers to follow. Finally, the main event kicks off at 6 PM on Sunday, which will also air on FOX.

  • Date: Sunday, February 6
  • Time: 6 p.m. ET
  • Purse: $1,967,000
  • TV: FOX, 3 p.m. ET
  • Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
  • Distance: 37.5 miles (150 laps), Stage Break: Lap 75
  • 2021 Race Winner: Kyle Busch (Daytona Road Course)

There have been 24 different Busch Light Clash winners, with the late Dale Earnhardt winning six times (1980, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995) over the course of his career. The next highest win total is three, with four drivers accomplishing that feat. Tony Stewart and Dale Jarrett are two of the names, with Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin the two active drivers trying to take sole possession of second place.

Other active drivers that have won this event include Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano. Kyle is the defending race winner, taking the checkered flag on the Daytona road course last year. The team with the most wins in this event is Joe Gibbs Racing. They have 10 total victories and have won this race six of the last 10 years.

Oddly enough, the pole sitter for this event has only won four times. Looking ahead to Speed Weeks at Daytona, the winner of the Clash has gone on to win the Daytona 500 just six times in the 43-year history of the event. The last driver to accomplish this was Hamlin in 2016.

The closest margin of victory in this race was 0.013 seconds when Kyle Busch narrowly edged Stewart in 2012. That record could be in jeopardy this weekend, but one thing is certain: the finish is sure to have plenty of fireworks.

NASCAR has put on some exciting shows on short-tracks across the country, and the fans have been clamoring for more short ovals on the schedule. This race will surely wet that appetite with all of the heat races and the fact that championship points are not being awarded. There will be a lot of bumping, plenty of payback, and no shortage of drama.

There is no holding back in this race where second place in this race truly means nothing.