LOS ANGELES — NASCAR’s most anticipated event of the year was a success with a large crowd on hand witnessing Joey Logano winning the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
On a day where Los Angeles greats gathered and fans saw performances by Pitbull and Ice Cube, 23 drivers took center stage and put on a stout 150-lap feature. Feelings were hurt, cars and barriers were damaged and even car reliability issues reared its ugly head.
In the end, Logano didn’t have to fully endure the chaos after holding off Kyle Busch to become the first man to win in the City of Angels. If anything, the only chaos he saw was after the race when Martin Truex Jr. and Michael McDowell tangled in Turn 1.
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A boastful Logano couldn’t believe he brought the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang on top of the result chart. More so that his wife Brittany Logano is expecting a baby Monday.
“We got the victory with the old Shell/Pennzoil Mustang. This is an amazing event. Congratulations, NASCAR,” said Logano. “Such a huge step in our industry to be able to do this, put on an amazing race for everybody. I’m out of breath. I was so excited about this. This is a big win.”
Never satisfied finishing second, Busch’s No. 18 M&Ms Toyota Camry had the strongest car throughout the main event. As far as what would’ve helped to snatch the lead from Logano was keeping the tires from overheating.
“I was being perfect doing everything I needed to do – keep the tires underneath me. When I got close, I was like, okay I’ve got to try more and pounce at an opportunity and just overheated the tires and smoked them in three laps and that was it,” Busch explained.
“Disappointing, obviously, come out here and win the pole, and lead laps, run up front. The finish goes green and it’s not chaotic and we can’t win, so it sucks. Congratulations to my son (Brexton) – he won yesterday. That’s cool. I was trying to match him. He’s winning more than me these days, so somebody better send him a contract.”
Before Busch took control at one point in the race, Tyler Reddick was also a top contender. That was until falling out of the race due to a transaxle failure. While leading no less as the woes happened under the first caution period for an incident involving Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.
Once his day was over, Reddick would later go into the stadium bowl and salute the fans.
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“The L.A. Memorial Coliseum exceeded expectations. The fans, the atmosphere, the intensity of the race itself. Just the intensity of the field and the drivers – it was an incredible experience,” Reddick explained.
“Certainly, the obvious big bummer is breaking our transaxle doing something I probably didn’t even need to do. We had one of the fastest cars on the race track. We were just riding and managing the gap back to Kyle; trying to lap as many cars that we could so we wouldn’t have to worry about them later. But we never made it that far.
“It’s a tough lesson, but it’s a lesson we can learn from. Thankfully this wasn’t a points-paying race. It still stings to give away a race like that from the lead, but we’ll be able to learn, grow from it and be even more ready than I thought would be possible rolling into Daytona.”
While one Richard Childress Racing driver faltered, another one blossomed. Austin Dillon picked up the pieces and rounded out the top-three. The result certainly boosted the No. 3 team’s morale after not having an ideal Saturday practice and qualifying.
“Man, I don’t know. From where we were last night, it took a lot of crazy fate and a little prayer last night. Talked to myself. We got it together today,” said Dillon. “The True Velocity Chevrolet was really fast in practice, I just struggled a little bit in qualifying and knew we would get in the race and be fine. The long run speed was there.
“Disappointed I couldn’t get those next two cars. I really wanted to get there. But all-in-all, a great race from where we were last night and everyone back home at RCR, good job. It was a good showing for us.”
Accidents were bound to happen on the quarter-mile circuit and the biggest one involved Justin Haley. The Kaulig Racing driver impressed a lot of people with a strong weekend. That all came to a crashing halt on Lap 116 when a battle with Kyle Larson went south.
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Haley’s left side slammed the inside jersey barrier, ripping off the left front fender.
“We had a fast Chevrolet. The whole race, we were just kind of pacing ourselves. And then obviously towards the end of the race, the cautions started falling and we just got put in a bad situation,” said Haley.
“But I’m glad we had speed with our LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet. Any other day of the week, the cards could turn our way and we could have a good run. Happy to be in contention of a win and we’ll see what Daytona brings.”
The SoCal pageantry is now in the books and now the mind shifts to NASCAR’s grandest race of them all, the 64th Daytona 500 Sunday, February 20 (2:30 p.m. ET on FOX). Logano, who won the Great American Race in 2015, looks to bring Team Penske its long alluded third 500 win after years of shortcomings, including last year.
Top 10 Final Results: Logano, Ky. Busch, A. Dillon, Jones, Larson, Byron, Custer, Bell, Allmendinger and Harvick