The LA Clash at the Colosseum made its cup debut in 2022. The exhibition race replaced the Busch Clash at Daytona, which has been the unofficial season opener for decades. The decision was fruitful for the premier stock car racing series as the unique 0.25-mile Race helped to garner the attention of a whole new set of fans to the sport.
The clash, till 2021, was held at the Daytona International Speedway as part of the Speed Weeks leading into the Daytona 500. It was an exclusive event where only the pole winners of the previous year were allowed to participate. But the tradition that started in 1979 was scrapped by NASCAR following the Pandemic lockdown and the uncertainty it brought in.
NASCAR allowed all 36 Chartered teams to race in the event, and the race’s success at the iconic stadium meant there was no going back now. But not everyone is too pleased with the clash, and this time, the criticism of sorts is from an unlikely source. Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. claims the ‘Clash’ has lost its identity and origin.
“I sure miss the connection between the pole awards and clash eligibility. It made winning a pole for any driver mean more. It made getting into the clash an exclusive accomplishment. The origin and identity of the clash itself were pole award winner,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. replied to a Tweet about an old Busch clash featuring his father, Dale Earnhardt.
Mark Martin agrees with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s claims, but NASCAR is right to open the vent to the rest of the field
Cup legend Mark Martin who has raced and won against both Dale Sr and Jr in the cup track, agrees with his former rival. Replying to the former HMS driver’s Tweet, Martins wrote, “Me too @DaleJr,” with the 100% emoji at the end.
Though it is fair to say that the event is missing its identity as it’s not an exclusive event right now. But the decision to scrap the exclusivity was the right one from NASCAR. The organization had no choice but to give all the teams a chance after shifting the race to LA Memorial Colosseum. If the old rules are followed, the contenders will be driving 6,000 miles away from Daytona while the other teams prep the cars for speed week.
Suppose the old rules are followed in 2022. In that case, the drivers who will get the invitation are Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, Chase Briscoe, William Byron, Chris Buescher, Austin Cindric, Cole Custer, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., and Bubba Wallace.
The fans won’t see top drivers like Kevin Harvick, Kyle and Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, and Daniel Suarez at the event, as they didn’t win a single pole last season. All of them won a cup race this year.