NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR returns with Busch Light Clash heats

2 Mins read
Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, and William Byron are off to strong starts to the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, even if in a non-points context, as they won their heat races ahead of the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. After failing to lock their spots in the main race via the heats, Michael McDowell and Chase Elliott did so in the two Last Chance Qualifiers.

Pole winner Justin Haley finished third in Heat #1 after losing the lead to Almirola and Alex Bowman in the final six laps. Harrison Burton suffered the first incident of the day when he was turned in a stack-up involving Noah Gragson and defending Clash victor and series champion Joey Logano just three laps in.

Truex claimed the heat win after holding off former Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Kyle Busch and Busch’s new Richard Childress Racing colleague Austin Dillon on the last restart with five laps to go. The final sprint was set up by Austin Cindric‘s spin.

Heat #3 saw the most incidents of the four heats as Brad Keselowski and Christopher Bell were both spun. The latter’s caution set up a three-lap run in which Hamlin edged out Chase Briscoe.

“It’s just bumper cars—guys that are desperate,” said Keselowski, who was turned by Daniel Suárez. “We just never could get the corner. We were just really loose in with both of our cars and just couldn’t turn the wheel.”

Byron led the fourth heat from start to finish. The LCQs were also flag-to-flag dominations for McDowell and Elliott, though Ty Gibbs chased down the latter and came up just shy of stealing the win on the final lap.

The top five in each of the four heats advanced as did the top three in the LCQs. The twenty-seventh and final spot in the Clash went to Cindric, who finished fifth in LCQ #2, as the highest-placing driver in the 2022 Cup standings not yet locked in; Cindric, the 2022 Daytona 500 winner, placed twelfth in points.

Heat #1 results

1210Aric Almirola*Stewart-Haas RacingFord25Running
2348Alex Bowman*Hendrick MotorsportsChevrolet25Running
3131Justin Haley*Kaulig RacingChevrolet25Running
4642Noah Gragson*Legacy Motor ClubChevrolet25Running
5522Joey Logano*Team PenskeFord25Running
6734Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord25Running
7421Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingFord25Running
8977Ty DillonSpire MotorsportsChevrolet25Running
9817Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord25Running
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Advanced to Clash

Heat #2 results

1619Martin Truex Jr.*Joe Gibbs RacingToyota25Running
218Kyle Busch*Richard Childress RacingChevrolet25Running
323Austin Dillon*Richard Childress RacingChevrolet25Running
435Kyle Larson*Hendrick MotorsportsChevrolet25Running
544Kevin Harvick*Stewart-Haas RacingFord25Running
689Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet25Running
7547Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet25Running
872Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord25Running
9978B.J. McLeodLive Fast MotorsportsChevrolet25Running

Heat #3 results

1211Denny Hamlin*Joe Gibbs RacingToyota25Running
2414Chase Briscoe*Stewart-Haas RacingFord25Running
3545Tyler Reddick*23XI RacingToyota25Running
4912Ryan Blaney*Team PenskeFord25Running
5399Daniel Suárez*Trackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet25Running
6120Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota25Running
7738Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord25Running
866Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingFord25Running
9815J.J. YeleyRick Ware RacingFord25Running

Heat #4 results

1124William Byron*Hendrick MotorsportsChevrolet25Running
2423Bubba Wallace*23XI RacingToyota25Running
331Ross Chastain*Trackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet25Running
4641Ryan Preece*Stewart-Haas RacingFord25Running
5543Erik Jones*Legacy Motor ClubChevrolet25Running
6954Ty GibbsJoe Gibbs RacingToyota25Running
7216A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet25Running
877Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet25Running
9851Cody WareRick Ware RacingFord25Running

LCQ #1 results

1134Michael McDowell*Front Row MotorsportsFord50Running
2220Christopher Bell*Joe Gibbs RacingToyota50Running
3438Todd Gilliland*Front Row MotorsportsFord50Running
4321Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingFord50Running
566Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingFord50Running
6477Ty DillonSpire MotorsportsChevrolet50Running
7717Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord50Running
8815J.J. YeleyRick Ware RacingFord49Running

LCQ #2 results

119Chase Elliott*Hendrick MotorsportsChevrolet50Running
2254Ty Gibbs*Joe Gibbs RacingToyota50Running
3416A.J. Allmendinger*Kaulig RacingChevrolet50Running
4347Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet50Running
552Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord50Running
667Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet50Running
7851Cody WareRick Ware RacingFord49Running
8778B.J. McLeodLive Fast MotorsportsChevrolet48Running
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