The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season may not get its official start until the Daytona 500 on Feb. 20, but the stars of NASCAR’s top series will be on tack for the Busch Light Clash on Feb. 6. The yearly exhibition event traditionally has been contested at Daytona International Speedway, moving from the facility’s 2.5-mile oval to the road course last year. But for 2022, the race moves away from Daytona for the first time as the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum transforms from a football stadium to a quarter-mile race track to play host.
Prior to Sunday’s historic event, NASCAR President Steve Phelps issued the following letter to fans:
“To Our Fans –
“When the drivers fire their engines today at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, NASCAR will officially begin a new era, and the future of our sport will be on full display for our industry and fans.
“The Next Gen race car has arrived and is ready for its debut to start the 2022 season. The new car not only reinforces NASCAR’s commitment to best-in-class racing, it symbolizes the bold innovation that continues to drive us forward across all areas of the sport.
“Its inaugural tour will follow a dynamic schedule that returns NASCAR to stock car racing’s hallowed ground, while also exploring new venues and opportunities. We look forward to hosting you and your families at our races this season and hope to create fun and memorable experiences that will last a lifetime.
“It is your loyalty and passion for NASCAR that has carried us forward all these years, and we’re proud to return the heart-pounding action and dramatic, side-by-side racing you’ve always known and loved.
“As the interest and enthusiasm for our sport continues to grow, we’re also proud to welcome countless new fans to the NASCAR family, and we hope you thoroughly enjoy the unpredictable thrill ride that is sure to be the 2022 race season.
“So buckle up, everyone. The green flag on the Next Gen era is about to drop. Get your race tickets. Set your tune-in reminders. And follow the NASCAR action at every turn until we crown our champions at Phoenix Raceway in November.
“On behalf of the NASCAR industry, thank you for your continued support of NASCAR. We hope you enjoy today’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum.”
Just as the venue has changed for the 2022 Clash, so has the format for the race. Twenty-three drivers will compete in this year’s 150-lap Busch Light Clash, with the identity of those drivers determined by heat races.
Thirty-six drivers entered this years Clash. They have been divided into four groups of nine, based on results from a traditional qualifying session Saturday.
Four drivers will advance from each of four 25-lap heat races to start in the top-16 positions of the Clash. The remaining drivers will, then, take another shot at advancement to the Clash in one of two 50-lap “last chance” heat races. Three drivers will advance to the main event from each of those two races to bring the Clash grid to 22 cars.
The 23rd and final Clash starting spot will fo to the remaining driver who was highest in last year’s driver points standings.