NASCAR took a chance by sending its yearly tradition of the Busch Light Clash from Daytona to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and it proved to be amazing decision for the sport.
Why? Well, here is an evaluation of the entire weekend.
The on-track action exceeded expecations set before the weekend
There was slight concern about the on-track action before the event due to its size, but it proved not to be after watching practice and the qualifying races.
Drivers were able to pass cleanly for position and were not forced to stay in a single file line the entire race. If there was not an opportunity, they could make one by moving a competitor out of the way.
It was very successful, especially when everything was on the line in the Last Chance Qualifying races when mayhem broke loose with many torn-up cars. It may have been an exhibition event, but it was notable how much the drivers cared.
While the organizations have limited resources for the NextGen car, not many drivers saw their equipment destroyed as they would have seen running the oval at Daytona International Speedway.
It is one huge reason why the entire weekend was a success for the industry. There was a time when under ten drivers would finish the Clash, but most of them managed to come out of the weekend with some scratches.
Unfortunately, there were many mechanical issues but it was to be expected at a track that puts a lot of pressure on the car. That should not carry over to traditional races at bigger tracks as much.
The racing was fun to watch and the ability to pass cleanly and use the bumper when needed made the event much better.
NASCAR’s push for an enhanced race atmosphere was successful
NASCAR and FOX went all out to make this exhibition event in Los Angeles the best it could possibly be. Ranging from music artists to sports legends, it was an incredible environment for all drivers and fans.
They brought out DJ Skee for music during cautions, a half-time show with Ice Cube, Joe Buck and Gus Johnson for introductions, and a line of incredible marshalls, such as racing legend Jeff Gordon and football legend Eric Dickerson.
It was an atmosphere that some people within the industry compared to the late 1990s and early 2000s when NASCAR was blossoming during the days of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. and Gordon.
There was talk last season from drivers such as Denny Hamlin that NASCAR needed to take some examples from Formula 1’s race environments and apply them to the sport. This came at a time when Formula 1 was booming.
The track was a perfect atmosphere for such an event due to it being 0.25 miles and in a football stadium. The grandstands were similar to Bristol Motor Speedway and on-track action was just as electric.
While they can make improvements, such as starting the main feature around 8 p.m. ET, the structure of the weekend allowed NASCAR to fully embrace the event with practice and qualifying the day before the race.
Some people won’t like the change because it’s not traditional, but NASCAR’s ability to show change and target a new audience of fans will pay off in its efforts to grow with the NextGen car.
Will NASCAR continue racing in Los Angeles after 2022?
The main question that people may ask after the weekend is whether NASCAR will make the decision to return to Los Angeles or try new places throughout the country. Well, we may have an indication of what they are thinking.
There have been some rumors that NASCAR could seek exhibition events outside of the United States, but that was reported before the race weekend. However, it could still apply even after the major success on Sunday.
They have an opportunity to return to Los Angeles for the 2023 and 2024 seasons after the three-year contract that was signed. However, these are options that can be accepted or declined.
This preseason clash may have paved the way for NASCAR to seek more opportunities that are out of the box, such as street course races and events like the All-Star Race taking place in a similar type of setting.
The possibilities are endless for what could come from this event. Sunday represented a new chapter for NASCAR and the future has not been this bright for a long time.