NASCAR president drops announcement hint following key deadline

Busch Light Clash, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Busch Light Clash, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Will NASCAR return to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the Busch Light Clash? The deadline to decide has come and gone, but nothing has been announced.

For the first time ever, NASCAR held the preseason Busch Light Clash exhibition race somewhere other than Daytona International Speedway this past February, when the Cup Series went west to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

This race at the home of the USC Trojans football team was contested on a purpose-built quarter-mile oval.

It marked the third different track at which the Clash was contested over the last three seasons. After the race was contested at the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) high-banked Daytona International Speedway oval for the 42nd year in a row in 2020, it was moved to the track’s 14-turn, 3.61-mile (5.810-kilometer) road course layout for 2021.

So will the Clash be contested at a fourth different track in four years next year, or will it be brought back to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum?

When NASCAR and Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum reached an agreement before this year’s Clash, the agreement was a three-year deal to run the Clash at the track. However, that deal contained options for both 2023 and 2024, and NASCAR held the options for both years.

NASCAR’s deadline to decide on whether or not to return to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2023 came 90 days from this year’s race, including race day. The race was contested on Sunday, February 6, which made the deadline Friday, May 6.

Now more than a month after the deadline, nothing has been announced regarding the future of the Clash, but that was pretty much expected, considering the fact that the full 2023 Cup Series schedule isn’t expected to be announced for another several weeks.

But all signs point to a return.

According to Sports Business Journal‘s Adam Stern, NASCAR President Steve Phelps recently stated that he would be “surprised” if Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum doesn’t host next year’s Busch Light Clash.

Considering the fact that the deadline came and went more than a month ago, one would think that “we haven’t announced” is somewhat of a roundabout way of saying “we will announce”, especially with Phelps suggesting that a return would be a “good idea”.

When NASCAR announced that the Clash would be contested at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the first time in 2022, the news was unsurprisingly met with a considerable level of doubt and skepticism — and even some criticism.

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But the event itself left many encouraged and hoping that nothing changes for 2023, and this development should leave those fans even more encouraged as we get closer and closer to next year’s schedule release.