5 Points to Ponder: Where Should the 2023 Clash Be Held?

1. The Clash at the Coliseum was one heck of an exhibition …

It’s difficult to overstate how wild it was watching this year’s Busch Light Clash, something I’ve never thought in any previous NASCAR season. “They actually did it,” was the overwhelming thought any time the mind wandered over the weekend. A quarter-mile track, built inside the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, giving the world its first full look at Next Gen racing. Surreal isn’t too strong a word to describe it.

Fun is also very appropriate to what played out, and as Han Solo once said, I mean all of it: The short (short) track racing, the large crowd, and yes, even Pitbull and Ice Cube performing. The entertainment flourishes may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but you could easily turn the channel during those times, and anyone wringing their hands over those touches needs to stop being so precious about a non-points race.

The Clash is an exhibition, so what we just saw is what it should be doing. It should still have Cup Series drivers battling it out, absolutely. But NASCAR doesn’t need just another race in what is already one of pro sports’ longest seasons. New locations (more on that in a bit), new formats and musical guests should all be welcomed. Making the Clash a good time while still giving the Cup teams a chance to shake off the rust should be the goal every year.

There is, of course, a chance that non-fans might tune in, like what they see, then be disappointed if they tune back in at, say, Kansas and find it’s not at all what they saw at the Clash. But frankly, that’s a good problem for NASCAR to have, because the last decade or so hasn’t been full of people even giving it a first chance. The Clash was a conversation-starter this year, and that’s all you can ask of it in the end.

2. … but it probably told us almost nothing about what to expect this season

Even when the Clash was just a preseason exhibition at Daytona the week before 500, it’s hard to say it was a harbinger of anything important for the campaign ahead. If there was anything negative you could say about the 2022 edition, it’s that it likely revealed even less than usual, seeing as there are exactly zero points races on a quarter-mile track and the cars this year are brand new.

If you squint hard enough, maybe you can take something out of Justin Haley running so well. But it’s all guesswork. Was Tyler Reddick‘s prop shaft failure a sign of a structural issue in the Next Gen cars that could rear its ugly head at short tracks later this year? Even NASCAR isn’t sure, though Chevrolet is looking into it.

Since the Daytona 500 often isn’t an indicator of who’s really going to be strong or what the season-long storylines might be, we’ll have to wait until NASCAR returns to California to start getting some insight — which as it turns out, is just a few weeks from now.

3. Where should NASCAR hold the 2023 Clash?

Perhaps the best part of NASCAR pulling off the Clash at the Coliseum is how it sparked the imagination as far as future editions of the event. If you can build a short track in a football stadium, the sky’s the limit.

OK, maybe not the sky, exactly. As my wife helpfully pointed out during the Clash, the February weather isn’t conducive to races in front of raucous outdoor crowds in many places.

(Though Ice Cube could probably rock the mic anywhere in any temperature.)

Travel could also be an issue too, though perhaps not now that the NFL schedule — and yes, that’s what did it — has knocked the Daytona 500 back a week from its pre-2022 norm.

Other than that, I’d say go nuts. The Clash could be the vehicle to work a street course into NASCAR, something that has been discussed for years, and holding a street race as a non-points event could alleviate some of the concerns around it. A short track that isn’t currently on the NASCAR schedule (go ahead and name your favorite) would also be welcome. Or NASCAR could just take it’s “build-a-track” operation somewhere different.

The speed at which we’ll get an answer might come as a surprise. NASCAR has options to return the Clash to the L.A. Coliseum in both 2023 and 2024, and has just 90 days to decide on whether to exercise the 2023 option. After what we just saw, that would be fine as well, though the novelty factor would undoubtedly be lessened each time out.

4. If you throw a HANS device and no one sees it, was it really thrown?

One of the more entertaining subplots from Sunday was normally chill Ryan Blaney getting upset enough after feeling  Erik Jones tried to “destroy me for seventh” that he chucked his HANS device at Jones’ No. 43 Chevrolet after climbing out of his Ford.

Or did he? You’d think that on a quarter-mile track, there’s nowhere to hide, but none of Fox’s cameras caught Blaney in the act. Hence, there are shots of the aftermath, but none of the actual HANS toss, as it were.

There was also circumstantial evidence that Blaney nimbly made his way into throwing range, at least.

Blaney was definitely mad, so I’m saying he did throw it. And jokes aside, the idea of someone getting mad enough at another driver that they expressed their displeasure that way is another tally in the win column of the 2022 Clash.

5. Is it possible to clone Tony Stewart?

With all due respect to Jeff Gordon (whose hair is now officially A Choice) and the work he did in the Fox booth for the last six seasons, he wasn’t missed on Sunday because Tony Stewart was great. This came as no surprise as many fans seemed to be anticipating Smoke joining Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer on commentary, but he was even better than expected. Stewart made plenty of informative points, played effortlessly off both his partners (including a hilarious quip about Bowyer hitting plenty of walls “in my cars”) and generally made it feel like he had been part of this announce team for years.

Ideally, Stewart would just join Fox full time, but he can’t because, well, he’s pretty busy. Owning a track, part of a race team and part of a whole racing series is a full plate by anyone’s standards.

So the answer here is simple: Scientists are getting close to cloning woolly mammoths, which have been extinct for millennia. Cloning Stewart should be a lot simpler since he’s alive and well. Maybe do a Kickstarter as I’ll happily chip in for the sake of TV broadcasts for the first half of this upcoming NASCAR season.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share this article

19 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
WJW Motorsports

London’s calling

DoninAjax

Ontario? There’s a university football stadium just waiting to be converted.

john dawd chapman

Here’s my suggestion for next years Clash. Pick a Walmart parking lot. Any one will do, we used to run autocrosses on one with my Porsche & they were lots of fun. It even had a nice elevation change. The downside is that it’s hard to charge spectators, but the upside is that it doesn’t cost a million $$. I expect my average speed in my 911 was not too far off the speed for the clash, (it was a big lot).
As a spectacle I suppose it was OK. But as a race, it would have to really improve to be very entertaining. Maybe if they ran the drivers in spec shifter carts. They might be on to something.

Steve R

The Music was the best part of the show, Me and a lot of other fans don’t care at all for country music, and when they play it the channel always changes

Ricky B.

Amen Bruh, bring on the Drake (who don’t luv the Drake?!!) and Lil’ Nas(car) X. Old Blake should hit the bricks outta LA….

Mr Yeppers

I’m fine with NO music. Stop all the unnecessary BS and race.

Bill B

Agree. I am thinking Steve was being sarcastic. Most race fans I know would not care about the band at all when they go to a race and would most likely look at it as an unwanted intrusion. I suppose if Hendrix rose from the grave, or John and George came back, maybe.
My channel changes no matter what band or other distraction they put on.

Last edited 4 months ago by Bill B
DoninAjax

Maybe The Outlaws!

Bill B

Where should the next Clash be?

How about Meteor Crater in Winslow Arizona.

DoninAjax

Area 57! The NA$CAR brain trust can phone home from there, but I don’t think they’re wanted back home.

Echo

Mars is my pick. For some reason everyone & NASA is interested in Mars. Whisper it in Brian or Ben’s ear.

jdquick

Got a better one, Bill. Anyplace that has a real race track other than a made for TV BS race…..But then that is what NASCAR has turned into, a WOKE idiotic organization that will do anything to draw the millennials who don’t give a damn about racing or cars… Hell with us old fans… they simply don’t care ad that was obvious with this “chase” s#$#.

Mike

Best thing about the race was lagono won so that made it worth watching for me. But nascar still lost the ratings war with the nfl pro bowl by 2 million viewers. Now on to daytona so lagona can win another one.

Bill B

Wow. That’s sad. I haven’t watched a PB for 20 years. I watch football every week during the season and all the playoffs but that PB is just stupid. This year I read it was basically touch football which pretty much negated any running game.

DoninAjax

It’s l-O-g-A-n-o!

Echo

lol that’s his favorite driver 🤣

Jeremy

The Astrodome is still vacant…

DoninAjax

I saw an ASA race at the Pontiac Silverdome.

irvan fan

Get back to the roots, the beach course at Daytona…..or put them on dirt

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com