scorecardNASCAR tempers are already flaring before the season thanks to the bumper-cars-like exhibition
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NASCAR tempers are already flaring before the season thanks to the bumper-cars-like exhibition

Cork Gaines   

NASCAR tempers are already flaring before the season thanks to the bumper-cars-like exhibition
Sports3 min read
  • The NASCAR season is still two weeks away, but drivers are already feuding.
  • The preseason Clash at the Coliseum once again looked more like bumper cars than a race.

The NASCAR season is still two weeks away, but if the preseason exhibition race is any indication, there will be no shortage of fireworks on and off the track when it starts.

On Sunday, NASCAR held its annual preseason race, The Clash at the Coliseum, for the second time at the LA Coliseum. While the exhibition is often entertaining, it can also look more like bumper cars than an actual race, and that has tempers flaring already.

Two-time champion Kyle Busch, competing in his first race with Richard Childress Racing, was among those unhappy afterwards. Busch noted that this year's race differed significantly from the inaugural clash in 2022 that was highly praised.

"Last year's show, I felt like, was relatively clean and good racing, some bumping, some banging, but we could run long stretches of green flag action," Busch said after the race. "Today was, I would call it, a disaster with the disrespect from everybody of just driving through each other and not just letting everything kind of work its way out."

Last year, the drivers were racing in the new NextGen cars for the first time, and it was the first time any of the drivers had driven a Cup Series race on a quarter-mile track, half the size of the next-smallest tracks used in NASCAR.

This year, the drivers knew what to expect on such a small track where the only way to pass a car was often just to hit them and hope it pushed them out of the way, and if that caused somebody to spin ... oh well.

That's what happened to Busch when he got spun by defending champion Joey Logano, and Busch made it clear that he will remember it down the road.

"Logano didn't get hit by nobody," Busch said, when asked about the chain reactions that were common. "He just flat-out drove through me, so he's got another one coming. I owe him a few."

Thanks to all of the bumping and spinning, the race had a momentum-killing 16 cautions over 150 laps.

While Busch was able to rebound from his spin to finish third, Bubba Wallace was not as fortunate. He led 40 laps during the race but finished 22nd after getting spun late by Busch's teammate, Austin Dillon.

"The 3 [Austin Dillon] just never tried to make a corner," Wallace told Bob Pockrass. "He just always ran into my left rear. ... I got run into the fence by him down the straightaway on the restart, so I gave him a shot, and then we get dumped. It sucks."

While Logano accepted the blame for spinning Busch, Dillon suggested Wallace's spin was just an unfortunate circumstance of the type of driving expected at this race.

"Bubba knocked me through the corner," Dillon said. "I was going to hit him back. Didn't mean to turn him like that, but when it gets down to the end, I think everybody knows what's going on, and that's what you see at places like this."

Part of the frustration from the drivers could be from the toll all the collisions took on their bodies. Despite the slow speeds on the tight track and safety adjustments made by NASCAR in year two of the NextGen cars, Wallace noted that he was in a lot of pain after the race.

"Back still hurts," Wallace said. "Head still hurts."




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