While no points will be paid until the Daytona 500 qualifying races a little over two weeks from now, the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season is scheduled to get underway this coming Sunday night at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with the Busch Light Clash preseason exhibition race.
The Clash had been held at the Daytona International Speedway oval from its inception in 1979 up until 2020, and it was moved to the venue's road course for a year in 2021. Then beginning in 2022, the series went west to the home of the USC Trojans for a true "short track" race around a flat, quarter-mile, purpose-built oval.
Team Penske's Joey Logano won the main event in 2022, and Joe Gibbs Racing's Martin Truex Jr. won it in 2023.
DraftKings Sportsbook recently added Clash odds to their NASCAR Cup Series listing (it's included under their Daytona 500 odds listing), and they have Truex, whose primary strength in recent years has been short tracks, as the favorite to repeat.
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Cup Series race favorites are usually listed in the +400 to +600 range, except in superspeedway races. For the Daytona 500, for instance, Team Penske's Ryan Blaney is listed as the favorite at +900, and he is the only driver listed with odds shorter than +1100.
Superspeedway races are largely considered "equalizer" type events, and past upset winners prove that everybody truly does have a shot.
NASCAR Clash odds: Martin Truex Jr. the favorite
The Clash is far from a superspeedway race, but the fact that Truex is listed at +750 shows that it is viewed in a very similar way. In other words, there is no clear favorite to come out on top, and there will likely be chaos; leading before the checkered flag may be a disadvantage.
The top eight drivers are all listed between +750 and +1100.
Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing: +750
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports: +850
William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports: +900
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske: +900
Joey Logano, Team Penske: +900
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing: +900
Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing: +1100
Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing: +1100
When you look at all of the contact and all of the turmoil that has taken place within the confines of the Los Angeles stadium, specifically last year (16 cautions), it is highly unlikely that anybody is going to dominate the event.
The very fact that the entire event is split up into six races -- for a total of 325 laps -- also creates an element of volatility that can only been seen in superspeedway races, with some even suggesting that it crosses the line between actual racing and entertainment.
There were talks last year about Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum potentially hosting a points race in the future, specifically due to the removal of Auto Club Speedway from the calendar and thus the removal of a long-standing Cup Series race from the Los Angeles market.
In response to all of the mayhem that had just transpired, Denny Hamlin joked that the Coliseum should actually host a playoff race.
What does this year's Busch Light Clash have in store at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum? The race is set to be broadcast live on Fox beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET this Sunday, February 4. If you have not already done so, begin a free trial of FuboTV and don't miss it!