Tuesday, 21 March 2023

NASCAR’s bet on a spectacle in L.A. paid off

Many doubted NASCAR when this unprecedented event was announced. But between the amazing and historic venue that looked beautiful on TV (and no doubt in person, too), tremendous on-track action and musical entertainment from Pitbull and Ice Cube, and an impressive crowd, the Clash at the Coliseum is something that exceeded NASCAR’s wildest expectations.

Joey Logano put on a tough battle with Kyle Busch up front to take the inaugural win for the Next Gen car, and in the process NASCAR exposed itself to a California audience largely composed of people who don’t normally follow the sport. Here’s hoping they stick around and remain fans of the sport as we head into the Daytona 500 and beyond.

I can see the Clash coming back to the Coliseum next year, but we need to be careful to make these things special, and not try to do them multiple times a year. Make it a destination every February; and later, once it’s served its purpose, give another stadium a chance. 

One thing is certain. The Clash, which had become an almost forgotten and frankly boring event at Daytona, has been revitalized, and we’re not going to back to the old ways again. Kudos to Ben Kennedy, the future of the sport’s leadership, for pushing the sport in bold, new directions despite some howling from legacy fans.

Published in NASCAR

It was a dream finish, Cinderella-like you could say, for Justin Haley at Daytona on Sunday, when he took home the victory In the brand-new, underfunded Spire Motorsports #77 car, after staying out on track following a caution, and being scored the leader when the race was called due to inclement weather.

Sunday’s race was declared official with 33 laps remaining and with Haley sitting in the No. 1 position. 

It’s not a stretch to call this the biggest upset in Cup series history, as Sunday was only the third MENCS career start for Haley, and he hadn’t sniffed a strong finish in those three starts prior to his turn of good luck.

Haley’s talent is not in doubt, as he has shown at the Xfinity level what he is capable of doing, nearly winning on Saturday in that series at Daytona as part of a Kaulig Racing 1-2 finish.

The day was strong overall for Chevy, who finished 1-2-3-4 with Haley, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson and Ty Dillon. Kurt Busch was also a contender for the win, giving up the lead by pitting just before the race was red-flagged to hand the victory over to Haley.

Below is the full transcript of the press conference featuring Haley, crew chief Peter Sospenzo and Spire team owner T.J. Puchyr:

Published in NASCAR

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