NASCAR is Finally Back – 2023 Clash at the Coliseum

With the drop of the green flag by Honorary Starter Caleb Williams, the 2023 NASCAR season got off to a blazing start on Sunday night. 

Beginning with qualifying on Saturday, each driver had the chance to set the fastest lap time and earn pole position for the 2023 Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum. That top spot went to the 31 of Justin Haley who posted a 13.413. He would go on to start Heat Race 1 from the front. 

Heat Race 2 saw the 8 of Kyle Busch (yes, you read that right) out front while heats 3 and 4 were led by the 20 of Christopher Bell and the 24 of William Byron. 

After Heat 1, the 10 of Aric Almirola, 48 of Alex Bowman, 31 of Haley, 42 of Noah Gragson, and 22 of Joey Logano earned their spots in the main event. Heat 2 saw the 19 of Martin Truex Jr., 8 of Busch, 3 of Austin Dillon, 5 of Kyle Larson, and 4 of Kevin Harvick fight their way to the main.

In Heat 3, it was all Denny Hamlin who took the top spot while the 14 of Chase Briscoe, 45 of Tyler Reddick, 12 of Ryan Blaney, and 99 of Daniel Suárez also moved on. Heat 4 saw the 24 of Byron, 23 of Bubba Wallace, 1 of Ross Chastain, 41 of Ryan Preece, and 43 of Erik Jones make it to the main event. 

Those who didn’t make it to the main through the Heat Races had one last shot through the Last Chance Qualifiers. In LCQ 1, the 34 of Michael McDowell dominated to move on while the 20 of Christopher Bell and 38 of Todd Gilliland also made it. LCQ 2 saw the 9 of Chase Elliott, 54 of Ty Gibbs, and 16 of AJ Allmendinger earn spots in the main. 

When the green flag flew, it was Almirola and Truex Jr. out front. By lap 14, the 38 of Gilliland had gone a lap down. The first (of many) caution(s) came out at lap 16 when Erik Jones took a spin. 

Another caution came out at lap 23 when the 12 of Blaney took a spin in turn 4. On lap 42, it was the 16 of Allmendinger who took a spin in the back of the field. Just before the halftime break, the 11 of Hamlin spun from the middle of the pack to bring out another caution. 

When the field made it to the break, it was the 23 of Bubba Wallace out front and the 9 of Elliott as the free pass. 

They had made it just one lap before another caution came out, this time for the 54 of Gibbs. Now, I could sit here and type out every single caution (TEN) that came out after the break, but I don’t think you would want to read all of that. 

Through tight battles, lots of spins, and a few lead changes, most of the field made it to the end. That is, without the Front Row Motorsports crew of McDowell and Gilliland who each ran out of gas before the finish. Had they been given the chance to re-fuel after their LCQs, they would have made it to the end. However, NASCAR did not allow any cars to refuel. 

After the final caution on lap 143, the 19 of Martin Truex Jr. took the lead and held it. With that, he earned his first career Clash victory. 

Now, for a two-week break before The Duels at Daytona, and The Big Race on Sunday, February 19th.

Featured photo from Pat Vallely.

Published by Madelyn Hipp

Madelyn is a recent graduate of Purdue University in Aviation Management. Her favorite drivers are Ryan Blaney, Justin Haley, and Christian Eckes. Her other interests include Major League and college baseball, hockey, golf, and air racing. She is the founder, editor, and a writer at Pit Box Press.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: