NASCAR Will Once Again Hold the Clash at the L.A. Coliseum in 2023

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 06: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Toyota, and Tyler Reddick, driver of the #8 Guaranteed Rate Chevrolet, lead the field during the NASCAR Cup Series Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on February 06, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

NASCAR will make a return to the L.A. Coliseum in 2023 and hold the season opening Clash on Feb. 5, 2023.

NASCAR confirmed the news Sunday prior to the race at Sonoma.

The sport held the non-points Clash exhibition race for the first time at somewhere other than Daytona this past February. They held the event in the iconic L.A. Coliseum, a stadium normally used to hold college football games and used it to debut the Next Gen car.

The event met, and arguably exceeded, expectations. After a practice and qualifying on Saturday night, there were four heat races and two last chance qualifiers during which the crowd continued to fill the stands. After a prerace concert by Grammy award winner (and NASCAR team co-owner) Pitbull, the 23-car field took the green with the L.A. skyline, the iconic Hollywood sign, and a snow-covered mountain range in the background.

“Our entire industry made a bold move by bringing the Busch Light Clash to the LA Coliseum this past February and it paid off by becoming an instant classic with both new and existing fans,” NASCAR’s senior VP of racing development and strategy Ben Kennedy said in a news release. “We are intent on showcasing our sport and drivers on the biggest stage and there is none bigger than the LA Coliseum. We’re thrilled to return to the heart of Los Angeles to officially start the season and set the stage for the Daytona 500.”

The nearly full stands saw great racing with only a few mechanical issues from the new cars and without the chaos that some predicted.

“It was an awesome experience all around,” Kyle Larson said. “First race with the new car. This event was really neat. It seemed like a great atmosphere. I’m not able to ever sit in the stands and watch other races. I got to watch a Heat Race and the Last Chance Qualifiers. It seemed like a blast, and I hope we can do more of this.”

TV viewership was also impressive as Fox averaged a 2.3 rating and 4.28 million viewers marking the highest rating and viewership for the event since 2016. Incidentally those numbers were higher than all but four Cup series races in all of 2021 and were higher than the season ending championship race in Phoenix.

“With more than four million viewers, and really breaking through in a pop culture mecca like Los Angeles, the inaugural Clash at the Coliseum did everything it was intended to do and then some,” said Bill Wanger, FOX Sports EVP, head of programming and scheduling. “It energized the sport, delivered new eyeballs, and kicked off the season in grand fashion. We can’t wait to do it all again in 2023.”

After the February race, Kennedy seemed inclined to return.

“I think coming out of today we’re going to go back, do a pretty in-depth postmortem on this event,” NASCAR’s senior vice president of strategic innovation, Ben Kennedy said. “Certainly, there are a lot of new things that came along with this event, from Pitbull, Ice Cube, DJ Skee. Everything along with the format, the entire event really.

“I think we’ll go back to that, then really think about what the future might look like both for being here at the L.A. Coliseum and the type of venue in general, too. I think there were a lot of questions coming in as to what the racing product might look like on track. I think between the format that we had with the heat races, last chance race, all the way through the main, at least from a fan perspective, a lot of energy in the bowl, hopefully those tuning in on TV enjoyed it as well.”

As for Kevin Harvick, who finished 10th:

“I thought it was a great event,” Harvick said. “I think for the way that everything went I don’t think you could have asked for it to go any better as far as the event goes.”

NASCAR’s Clash in L.A. exceeds expectations