All 36 chartered teams in the NASCAR Cup Series will trek west to kick off the 2024 season with the third edition of the Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Coliseum.
It’ll be the first weekend for Josh Berry and Noah Gragson in their new Stewart-Haas Racing rides. Berry begins his rookie campaign in the No. 4 Ford, while Gragson returns to the series in the No. 10.
Kaz Grala will be in the No. 15 for Rick Ware Racing. It’s the first of 25 races for Grala with the organization.
Other faces in new places include a pair of Kaulig Racing drivers. Josh Williams will be in the No. 16 Chevrolet for the organization, and Daniel Hemric will get another shot at the Cup Series in their No. 31 Chevrolet.
John Hunter Nemechek gets started with his new team, the No. 42 Toyota for Legacy Motor Club. Justin Haley takes over the No. 51 Ford for Rick Ware, Zane Smith is in the No. 71 Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports, and Carson Hocevar is in the organization’s No. 77 Chevrolet.
Berry, Smith, and Hocevar are the expected Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates.
The first on-track action will be Saturday. NASCAR tweaked this year’s race schedule with Saturday’s combined practice and qualifying season. A driver’s fastest lap from the final practice session will determine where they start in the heat race.
There will be four heat races of 25 laps each. Only green flag laps will count, and there will be no overtime. The top five finishers from each heat race will advance into The Clash.
A unique setting for a unique event. Matt Thacker/Motorsport Images
When drivers return to the Coliseum Sunday, it’ll be for the last chance qualifying race and the Busch Light Clash main event. The drivers who do not advance into The Clash will compete in a 75 laps last chance qualifier race. Once again, only green flag laps will count, and there will be no overtime. The top two finishers from the last chance qualifier will advance.
The feature, the Busch Light Clash, will start 23 drivers. It’s four spots less than the 27 drivers who started The Clash last year.
The Clash will be 150 laps, with only green flag laps counted. It must be a green-flag finish.
At halfway, lap 75, there will be a break. Machine Gun Kelly (MGK) will perform at the break.
It’ll be a star-studded event. Dillon Francis will be the live DJ, while boxing legend Canelo Alvarez will serve as the grand marshal. Nita Strauss will perform the national anthem.
For fans in attendance, it’s a doubleheader weekend. The NASCAR Mexico Series will also compete and will have practice and qualifying Saturday. Cup Series driver Daniel Suarez is entered in that event. The race will go green Sunday afternoon (4:30pm ET, FS1) as the lead-in to the Busch Light Clash (6:30pm ET, FOX).
Martin Truex Jr. is the defending winner of The Clash. NASCAR will again have a podium ceremony for the top three finishers, awarding medals to those drivers in a nod to the history of the L.A. Coliseum, which has hosted two Olympic Games.