Heat Race Lineups
The top-4 from each heat advance to the 150-lap main event. Everyone else goes to a Last Chance Qualifier which will take the top-3 to the main event. The heat races are 25 laps each while the two B-mains are 50 laps in duration. The starting lineup for the feature will consist of 23 cars.
Heat Race 1 Lineup: 1. Kyle Busch, 2. Daniel Suarez, 3. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 4. Ryan Blaney, 5. Denny Hamlin, 6. Aric Almirola, 7. B.J. McLeod, 8. David Gilliland, 9. Ross Chastain
Heat Race 2 Lineup: 1. Tyler Reddick, 2. Cole Custer, 3. Harrison Burton, 4. Alex Bowman, 5. Bubba Wallace, 6. Austin Dillon, 7. Chase Briscoe, 8. Brad Keselowski, 9. Martin Truex Jr.
Heat Race 3 Lineup: 1. Justin Haley, 2. Chase Elliott, 3. William Byron, 4. Christopher Bell, 5. A.J. Allmendinger, 6. Kevin Harvick, 7. Chris Buescher, 8. Corey LaJoie, 9. Cody Ware
Heat Race 4 Lineup: 1. Joey Logano, 2. Kyle Larson, 3. Michael McDowell, 4. Landon Cassill, 5. Austin Cindric. 6. Erik Jones, 7. Ryan Preece, 8. Kurt Busch, 9. Ty Dillon
Perhaps no event in recent NASCAR Cup Series history has placed the drivers and teams on more even competitive ground than the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum. Even the races held on the super speedways formerly known as restrictor plate tracks(Daytona & Talladega) do not typically start with there being so many unknowns going into an event. And while those races can provide surprises such as Michael McDowell or Trevor Bayne winning the Daytona 500, the safer prediction, and the one most likely to come to fruition, is typically to pick a driver from one of the top teams.
However, this race on a completely untried race track with a car turning its first competitive laps is very much a toss up. NASCAR has not contested a race on this short of a facility(.25 mile) in decades. Many of these drivers have never even raced on anything remotely close to the makeshift track laid out on the floor of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Since no one has any more experience with this track than anyone else and no one has any more experience with NASCAR’s new Next Gen car than anyone else, this race is truly up for grabs. And more, one has to wonder just how seriously every driver will take this exhibition race. Sure, everyone wants to win and would like to have their name written into the record books as the winner of the inaugural Cup race held inside this historic venue. But if things go badly in a heat race or early in the main event, it might seem easier for one of the proven stars to just start thinking about the Daytona 500 than to persevere in what basically amounts to a show.
Veteran drivers such as Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. are all former champions of the sport who are starting their heat races below the cut line. It might be enticing just to cruise around and save equipment than to really push the issue.
On the other hand, so-called underdogs such as Justin Haley, Tyler Reddick, Daniel Suarez, Harrison Burton, Michael McDowell and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. could view this as a rare opportunity to grab some headlines for themselves, their teams, and their sponsors. So why not push the issue even if it means ruffling a few feathers?
While it would not be a shock for defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson or other former titlists such as Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott or Joey Logano to pull into victory lane at the end of the night, there are other less highly touted drivers who might see the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum as door that is cracked open and they could very well seize the opportunity to kick it open.
My predicted heat race winners: Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Justin Haley, Kyle Larson
My predicted feature winner: Tyler Reddick
Fox will provide live television coverage with the Heat Races beginning at 3:00pm, the LCQ’s at 4:10, and the feature will go off at 6:00pm. The feature will have a halftime break at lap 75.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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