Winless no more: Truex survives chaos, RCR teammates for Clash victory in LA

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 05: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Martin Truex Jr. did something Sunday night he hasn’t done since September of 2021: visited victory lane to celebrate a race win.

After going winless for all of 2022, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver led the final 25 laps in NASCAR’s Clash at the L.A. Coliseum and held off Austin Dillon and Kyle Busch for victory.


“Last year was a pretty rough season for us with no wins,” Truex said. “To come out here and kick it off this way, really proud of all these guys. Tonight was kind of persevere, not give up, just battle through and we found ourself in the right spot at the end.”

For Busch and Dillon the race marked their first together as teammates at Richard Childress Racing.

“My teammate let me try and go get Truex at the end.,” Dillon said. “That was nice, and yeah, it’s been fun. Hopefully we can do this more often.”

NASCAR’s second trip to the specially built ¼ mile track in downtown Los Angeles again featured world class entertainment, A-list celebrities, and a large crowd. Unlike last year a specially set aside area for college students was filled, and on-track became a slug fest with 16 cautions, 12 of those coming after the mid-race break at lap 75.

The racing started earlier in the afternoon with Heat races that set the field for the main event. Aric Almirola, Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and William Byron won their respective Heat races while Michael McDowell and Chase Elliott won their Last Chance Qualifiers. Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric made the Clash field via provisional spots.

Harrison Burton, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Brad Keselowski, Corey LaJoie, Ty Dillon, Cody Ware, Christopher Buescher, BJ McLeod and JJ Yeley were all eliminated.

Alex Bowman was fourth with Kyle Larson fifth.

In his racing debut for Stewart-Haas Racing, Ryan Preece took control of the event in the second half leading a race high 43 laps before a mechanical issue slowed him. He faded from the lead but held on to finish seventh just behind Tyler Reddick. Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin, and Byron rounded out the top 10.

The NASCAR Cup series will hold its first points paying race of the season with the season opening Daytona 500 in two weeks.

Greg Engle