Joey Logano considers last year’s Clash victory ‘one of my biggest’

As expected there was a lot of optimism exuded as the NASCAR Cup Series drivers arrived at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Saturday for opening practice and then qualifying for Sunday’s Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum (8 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the annual exhibition opener to the season.

Last year’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum presented a fresh opportunity and challenge from the location – a paved quarter-mile track purposely built inside the University of Southern California’s 100-year-old football stadium – to the brand-new Next Gen cars making their competitive debut.

However, a sold-out stadium crowd – with estimates of 60-70 percent of the people attending their very first NASCAR race – ended up enjoying a highly-competitive NASCAR debut at the facility with Joey Logano taking the victory and setting the stage for what would be a series championship season.

This year the teams, the cars, the drivers are all well-tested and extremely happy to be racing in downtown Los Angeles again this week.

Drivers insisted Saturday that whatever pre-disposed thoughts they had for this unique event last year, they left Los Angeles not just satisfied with the event, but even thrilled with it.

“Last year honestly was probably the most amazing event I have ever been a part of with NASCAR,” Trackhouse Racing driver Daniel Suarez said, Saturday. “The fans were super amazing. The energy was unbelievable as well. I have never felt so much excitement of the fans like we did one year ago.”

It was a prevalent sentiment at the L.A. Coliseum this week.

“When they told us the first time it was like, ‘What? Where? How? With brand new cars?” defending race winner and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano said. “But it worked out great and obviously that’s why we’re back again and not really many things have changed and the things that have make it even better for the fan experience.

“This is great. I think it’s added something to the Clash in general. It was special when it was in Daytona, to win at Daytona is special, but I think last year after going through the whole weekend and being able to win the race, the excitement and the amount of eyeballs that were watching were far more than what it would have been at the Clash to where I would almost look at winning the Clash last year as one of my biggest victories and I don’t think there’s many non-points paying races that you’d ever say that about.

“But just the fact that it was an inaugural event at a place like this was just really cool.”