NASCAR Dodges Mother Nature in LA

Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag over Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series champion, finished the race in third after starting at the rear of the field with a driver’s point provisional. Joey Logano, and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five finishers.

Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag at the BUSCH LIGHT CLASH held at the Coliseum. (Photo: Sara Medina)

 

Earl Heath 

Contributing Sports Writer

There was a saying: “Its not nice to fool Mother Nature” – So what NASCAR did was dodge it. The weather forecast called for heavy rain from Saturday night for three straight days.

  The third Busch Light Clash held at the L.A. Coliseum was in jeopardy so race officials moved it up 24 hours and that was allowed things to be almost normal.

Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag over Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series champion, finished the race in third after starting at the rear of the field with a driver’s point provisional. Joey Logano, and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five finishers.

It was a wacky finish for the polesitter who took first place after two lap shootout for the win, Hamlin stayed clear of runner-up Kyle Busch and crossed the stripe with a 0.610-second advantage, earning his fourth victory in the season-opening exhibition race—most among active drivers—with the first three coming at Daytona International Speedway. 

“I got a really good run off Turn 2 and just got position and was able to hang on from there,” Hamlin said of his run to the lead after the Lap 141 restart. “It’s so chaotic on the restarts, with everyone bumping and banging, but it’s great to win here in L.A.

 “It’s just a great momentum boost. It doesn’t do much more than that, but I clean off all the trophies every January 1 in the entryway to the house, and now we get to add one pretty quick, so I’m really happy about that.”

 Busch restarted behind Hamlin in the overtime, but Hamlin pulled away to a lead of nearly two car-lengths, and Busch couldn’t get to his bumper after that.

 “I felt like the first half (of the race), I had a better car, better than the 11 (Hamlin), but some of the adjustments we made weren’t as good, some of the adjustments they made were better,” said Busch, who has finished second, third and second in the three events at the Coliseum. 

“All in all, just glad to have a good night. Glad to come out of here in one piece with all the bumping and banging and everything else that happens.”

There was a half time break at the 77-lap point. However all entertainment was canceled. Toyota drivers were dominant during race. Hamlin, Gibbs and Martin Truex Jr. combined to lead 141 of the 150 laps. Logano led the other eight laps in a Ford Mustang.

Ty Gibbs led an amazing 84 laps and contended most of the day. He was well in command throughout but finished 18th after a late-race caution set up the finish.

“I think its very entertaining and sometimes its real frustrating when your out there,” said Logano. “Its a tight bull ring and you’ve got big cars and there sliding around especially on refire with old tires, your sliding a lot.”

 

 

 

 

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