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Everything you need to know for NASCAR’s Busch Clash this weekend

The first look at new faces in new places

NASCAR: Busch Light Clash
Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

The Busch Clash at the Coliseum doesn’t count for NASCAR Cup Series championship points and is basically just for bragging rights but it does provide a first glimpse at all the changes that took place over the off-season.

To wit, it’s a chance for new driver, crew chief and spotter pairings to get their communication processes down in a setting that basically has no consequence. The season begins in earnest in two weeks at Daytona for the Daytona 500.

But, the Clash still a green flag, checkered flag, trophy and check and racers treat it seriously.

Here is the biggest changes that will get first glimpses this weekend at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum:

  • Josh Berry now drives the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 with the retirement of Kevin Harvick, who will start a full-time NASCAR on FOX broadcasting career this weekend.
  • Noah Gragson will make his first start with Stewart-Haas Racing in the No. 10 with the full-time departure of Aric Almirola, who will race part-time in the Xfinity Series this season
  • Kaz Grala will make 25 starts for Rick Ware Racing and that doesn’t even include this race or the Daytona 500, which will come in a Front Row Motorsports entry
  • Then there is Josh Williams, a journeyman Xfinity Series racer, who in addition to a full-time slate with Kaulig in Xfinity will start with the team this weekend in the Clash
  • Daniel Hemric gets his second Cup Series opportunity, this time with Kaulig, driving the No. 31
  • Josh Hunter Nemechek was the winningest Xfinity Series driver last year and now returns for a second stint in the Cup Series, this time with Legacy Motor Club
  • After spending the past several seasons with Kaulig, Justin Haley will drive the No. 51 for Rick Ware Racing this season starting with the Clash
  • Zane Smith is driving the No. 71 for Spire Motorsports this season but he’s under lease from Trackhouse
  • Rookie Carson Hocevar is driving the No. 77 last driven by Ty Dillon

Remember that only 23 cars will start the main event of the Clash on Sunday following a series of heat races and a last chance race.

Format

Teams have been sorted into three groups based on the final 2023 NASCAR Cup Series championship standings.

Group 1: William Byron, Tyler Reddick, Ross Chastain, Joey Logano, Michael McDowell, Ty Gibbs, Josh Williams, Austin Cindric, Erik Jones, Chase Briscoe, Carson Hocevar and Zane Smith.

Group 2: Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Bubba Wallace, Alex Bowman, Ryan Preece, Corey LaJoie, Austin Dillon, John Hunter Nemechek and Justin Haley.

Group 3: Ryan Blaney, Christopher Bell, Chris Buescher, Chase Elliott, Josh Berry, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Daniel Suarez, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Todd Gilliland, Harrison Burton and Kaz Grala.

The starting lineups for the four 25-lap heat races will be decided by the fastest times in the final practice session. In other words, the fastest overall time earns the pole for heat one, second fastest gets the pole for heat two, third fastest is on the pole for heat three and the fourth fastest gets the pole for heat four. The fifth fastest time will start second in heat one and so forth.

Only green-flag laps will count in each of the heat races, with no overtimes.

The top five finishers in each heat will automatically advance to the Sunday night main event, while the drivers who finish below fifth in each heat will advance to the 75-lap last chance race on Sunday afternoon.

The top two finishers in the LCQ will advance to the Busch Clash and start 21st and 22nd, respectively. Like the heat races, only green-flag laps will count with no overtime. The final position in the main event is reserved for the driver who finished highest in the 2023 standings to have not yet locked into the feature.

TV Schedule

Practice on Saturday is set for 6 p.m. ET on FS1 with the heat races scheduled for 8:30. On Sunday, the 75-lap last chance race is set for 6:40 p.m. ET and the 150-lap main event scheduled for 8 p.m. The entire Cup Series portion of the event on Sunday will air on FOX.

Entry list

1Ross ChastainTrackhouse Racing
Busch Beer
Chevrolet
Phil Surgen
2Austin CindricTeam Penske
Freightliner
Ford
Brian Wilson
3Austin DillonRichard Childress Racing
BetMGM
Chevrolet
Keith Rodden
4Josh BerryStewart-Haas Racing
SunnyD
Ford
Rodney Childers
5Kyle LarsonHendrick Motorsports
HendrickCars.com
Chevrolet
Cliff Daniels
6Brad KeselowskiRFK Racing
Castrol EDGE
Ford
Matt McCall
7Corey LaJoieSpire Motorsports
CELSIUS
Chevrolet
Ryan Sparks
8Kyle BuschRichard Childress Racing
Morgan & Morgan
Chevrolet
Randall Burnett
9Chase ElliottHendrick Motorsports
NAPA Auto Parts
Chevrolet
Alan Gustafson
10Noah GragsonStewart-Haas Racing
Rush Truck Centers
Ford
Drew Blickensderfer
11Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs Racing
Sport Clips
Toyota
Chris Gabehart
12Ryan BlaneyTeam Penske
Menards
Ford
Jonathan Hassler
14Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas Racing
Mahindra Tractors
Ford
Richard Boswell III
15Kaz GralaRick Ware Racing
N29 Captial Partners
Ford
Billy Plourde
16Josh WilliamsKaulig Racing
Alloy Employer Services
Chevrolet
Travis Mack
17Chris BuescherRFK Racing
Fastenal
Ford
Scott Graves
19Martin Truex, Jr.Joe Gibbs Racing
Bass Pro Shops
Toyota
James Small
20Christopher BellJoe Gibbs Racing
Mobil 1
Toyota
Adam Stevens
21Harrison BurtonWood Brothers Racing
Motorcraft / QuickLane
Ford
Jeremy Bullins
22Joey LoganoTeam Penske
Shell-Pennzoil
Ford
Paul Wolfe
23Bubba Wallace23XI Racing
Columbia
Toyota
Bootie Barker
24William ByronHendrick Motorsports
Liberty University
Chevrolet
Rudy Fugle
31Daniel HemricKaulig Racing
Cirkul
Chevrolet
Trent Owens
34Michael McDowellFront Row Motorsports
Margaritaville at Sea
Ford
Travis Peterson
38Todd GillilandFront Row Motorsports
gener8tor
Ford
Ryan Bergenty
41Ryan PreeceStewart-Haas Racing
United Rentals
Ford
Chad Johnston
42John Hunter NemechekLEGACY MOTOR CLUB
Dollar Tree
Toyota
Ben Beshore
43Erik JonesLEGACY MOTOR CLUB
Family Dollar
Toyota
Dave Elenz
45Tyler Reddick23XI Racing
Jordan Brand
Toyota
Billy Scott
47Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.JTG Daugherty Racing
Ralph’s / Food 4 Less
Chevrolet
Mike Kelley
48Alex BowmanHendrick Motorsports
Ally Financial
Chevrolet
Blake Harris
51Justin HaleyRick Ware Racing
Walmart Health & Fitness
Ford
Chris Lawson
54Ty GibbsJoe Gibbs Racing
Monster Energy
Toyota
Chris Gayle
71Zane SmithSpire Motorsports
Focused Health
Chevrolet
Stephen Doran
77Carson HocevarSpire Motorsports
Delaware Life
Chevrolet
Luke Lambert
99Daniel SuarezTrackhouse Racing
Worldwide Express
Chevrolet
Matt Swiderski
Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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