Sports & Culture Media

NASCAR Weekly Preview

The off-season has come and gone; the 2023 season is here. The NASCAR world has been waiting all winter, and their wait is finally over. However, before we get into the preview, let us cover this week’s news. Do you remember that Garage 56 entry NASCAR was talking about? This week, NASCAR announced the driver roster for that entry and slightly revealed the car itself. Jimmie Johnson (7-time Cup Champion), Jenson Button (2009 Formula 1 World Champion), and Mike Rockenfeller (DTM Champion and a former Le Mans winner). The 24 hours of Le Mans is a prestigious event and one of the old races in the world. While Garage 56 is not an entry that can compete for the win at Le Man, it will be interesting to see a NASCAR Stock Car running around the Le Man circuit, especially with the level of talent behind the wheel (This is not the first time NASCAR has run at Le Man either). The car will feature additional pieces of downforce and headlights from what NASCAR showed in testing at the Daytona Road Course.

NASCAR and the teams are negotiating new T.V. contracts, and the teams are asking for more money, nearly double the amount they get currently. While NASCAR initially objected to the teams’ proposal, they have come to the table to negotiate a more favorable deal with the teams. Toyota is planning on expanding its roster. There are only 6 Toyotas that are in the NASCAR field, and having more spices up the power balance throughout the field. The Indianapolis oval could be making a return sooner rather than later. While NASCAR fans at first welcomed the road course, the road course has fallen from the fan’s good graces. The lackluster racing, the horrible turn 1 guaranteeing an accident, and the general lukewarm track design make for a sometimes exciting but boring race. If NASCAR returns to the oval, I hope they bring back the Brickyard 400, and we will have another marquis event on the calendar.

NASCAR announced some new rules for the 2023 season, and if you liked Chastian’s “Hail Melon” move at Martinsville, NASCAR has outlawed it. Many fans understood the outlawing of such a move, but it has led to some conflicting feelings. Chastian’s move went so perfectly it is not likely to be repeated and have the same result. However, NASCAR can ban the move if someone else tries to copy it. NASCAR has also changed penalties for detached wheels and has instituted wet weather equipment for 1-mile and short racetracks. The road course will no longer have yellow flags at the end of stages. NASCAR amended the rules for stages on road courses to where caution flags at the end of stages are no more. NASCAR stated that the change was brought about because they wanted to have strategy involved in the races. Strategy is a very interesting aspect of the races and can make a fairly boring race and turn it into an exhilarating race. I do believe most fans agree with this change. I hope they do this for the ovals as well soon. With the news covered, let me get you ready for the race on Sunday with what you can expect.

NASCAR is picking up where it left off. This Sunday will kick off the season of NASCAR with a quarter-mile short track in Las Angelas, a tradition of over 40 years revitalized just last year, The Busch Light Clash. The Clash is a non-points-paying event pitting the drivers against one another for glory and cash. All of the NASCAR Cup Charter teams are given entries into the event with four open spots for teams without charters. The format for the Clash is somewhat complicated; however, let me give you the rundown for how this year’s Clash will run. 

  • Practice will be held on Saturday at 6 pm EST (3 groups are allowed to turn laps)
  • Qualifying will begin at 8:30 pm EST
    • The drivers will get two timed laps. The order of qualifying will be determined by 2022 Owner’s points. 
  • There will be 4 Heat races consisting of 25 laps each. Qualifying will set the Heat race grid (Heat race 1 will start at 5 pm EST and Heat race 4 will start at 5:45 pm EST).
    • 1st will be pole for Heat Race 1
    • 2nd will be pole for Heat Race 2
    • 3rd will be pole for Heat Race 3
    • 4th will be pole for Heat Race 4
    • And so on and so forth…
  • Top five in each race will advance to the Clash.
    • Bottom five will go to the Last Chance Qualifiers (LCQ).
  • The LCQ’s will consist of 50 laps each (2 LCQ’s will be run, the first LCQ will run at 6:10 pm EST and the second will run at 6:35 pm EST).
    • The bottom five from Heats 1 and 3 will run the first LCQ and the bottom five from Heat 2 and 4 will run the second LCQ.
      • 6th place finisher from Heat 1 and 2 will be on pole and 6th place finisher from Heat 3 and 4 will be on outside pole.
    • The top three finishers in each LCQ will advance to the Clash while the rest pack up and go home.
  • There will be a concert after the LCQ’s and driver intros will begin at 7:50 pm EST. The Clash will start at 8 pm EST and it will consist of 27 drivers racing for 150 laps. 26 of the drivers will get in on Heat races and LCQ while the 27th position will be decided by the highest points finisher in the 2022 season who did not qualify for the other 26 positions.

(Catchinng my breath) There you have it, the Busch Light Clash format, in all of its complicated glory. Last year’s Clash was a massive success; the classic old school short track racing was a massive draw to older and newer NASCAR fans. This year’s Clash should be another instant classic, but who do I think has a chance to win the Busch Light Clash.

  1. Joey Logano: I had to pick the defending champion of the race, can you blame me? He had speed last year and ran away from the pack like everyone else was down a piston or two. While it will be hard to win back to back years, Logano has the talent to pull it off.
  2. Kyle Busch: A wildcard pick; however, I have a good reason. With Gibbs last year, Busch was very fast, grabbing the pole for the race. He is with Richard Childress this year and if Childress bring the car they brought last year, Busch stands a very great shot of winning the race.
  3. Tyler Reddick: Another wildcard pick, Tyler Reddick showed a lot of promise in the number eight Chevrolet for Richard Childress, running strong until an incident on track took him out. With the switch to 23XI Racing and his prior experience at the track, Reddick could upset the field and start the season off hot.
  4. My last pick is actually two drivers, as I cannot pick between them: A.J Allmendinger and Chase Elliott. Allmendinger is more of a sleeper pick, as he had speed all day and was in the fight for a win. Kaulig impressed many people last year with good runs and consistent finishes, and A.J. has impressed me with his driving talent these last few years. I would throw Noah Gragson on the pick list, but I was too iffy on him to add him to the list. Chase, however, was another driver who had shown good speed in practice but did not reciprocate that speed in qualifying, and in the main event, he finished in 11th. I think he may be looking for some redemption.
Sponsored by The Plug Tire & Brake

Dustin Lewis