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NASCAR’s ‘significant investment’ into Clash at the Coliseum exceeds $1 million

Kyle Petty is joined by Mike Helton, Rick Hendrick, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., as they swap stories at the Hall of Fame to honor Dale Jr., who opens up about what the presence of Helton and Hendrick has meant to his career.

NASCAR will spend “significantly more” than $1 million to stage this weekend’s Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum, a NASCAR official confirmed Monday.

“It’s been a significant investment by NASCAR,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer.

While he declined to reveal the cost of building a quarter-mile paved track inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, O’Donnell said of Sunday’s exhibition race: “We made a big bet on this, but we think it’s the right thing to do for the industry.”

More: How LA Coliseum was transformed for the Clash

He said during a conference call with reporters that more than 70% of the ticket buyers for the Clash had not purchased tickets to a NASCAR event before. O’Donnell also noted the six hours of broadcast coverage on Fox that NASCAR and the event will receive.

Whether the Clash is held annually in the Coliseum or moves elsewhere will be based on how this weekend’s event goes. O’Donnell hinted that there could be other locations to host the event, including some “outside the U.S.”

“When you look at investments, particularly from our standpoint, we’re going to be bold and aggressive if we feel like that’s a way towards future growth,” O’Donnell said.

He also noted there could be places that hark back to the sport’s roots that NASCAR could consider in the future for this exhibition race.

As for this weekend’s event, NASCAR announced various procedures:

  • Teams will be divided into three sessions for practice. Each group will have three eight-minute sessions. There are 36 cars entered.
  • Qualifying order will be inverted based on last year’s owner points. That means reigning Cup champion Kyle Larson will be the last to make a qualifying attempt.
  • Caution laps will not count in the heat races, last chance qualifying races and 150-lap Clash.
  • There will be a break at Lap 75 of the Clash. The break is expected to be about six minutes.

NASCAR also announced Monday:

# NASCAR will allow Cup teams to change how they do pit stops beginning at Atlanta in March. A video by Joe Gibbs Racing showed both its tire changers going around the front of the car. Previously, the rear tire changer was required to go around the back of the car. O’Donnell said the delay in allowing this was to give all teams proper time to adjust.

# Cup teams will be divided into two groups for practice sessions at most events this year. Teams will be divided based on the performance metric from the previous race. That’s the same metric that was used to set the starting lineup when qualifying was not held. The metric will be used to determine the qualifying order within each group. The car with the best metric from the previous race will be last to make a qualifying attempt in its group.

# NASCAR will allow teams to manage their backup cars early in the season before setting a rule in place after the West Coast swing in March. That could mean that a multi-car organization might not bring backup cars for all of its teams. With limited practice at most events, the likelihood of an organization destroying more primary cars than it has backups for at an event is unlikely. This is being done because each team is expected to have only five chassis per car number by Daytona instead of seven because supply issues.

# NASCAR is looking at a double-yellow line rule at Atlanta similar to the rule at Daytona and Talladega. No decision has been made yet. Cars that go below the double-yellow line at Daytona and Talladega to pass another car are penalized. Those that force another car below the double-yellow line at Daytona and Talladega to avoid being passed may be penalized.

# The Xfinity Series field will increase from 36 to 38 cars this year.

# The Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash returns. The March 26 race at Circuit of the Americas will determine the four drivers for the first Dash 4 Cash race. Those four races will be:

April 2 - Richmond

April 8 - Martinsville

April 23 - Talladega

May 1 - Dover

# The Triple Truck Challenge returns to the Camping World Truck Series. Those races will be:

June 4 - Gateway

June 24 - Nashville

July 9 - Mid-Ohio

The June 11 race at Sonoma (the first time the Trucks have raced there since 1998) and June 18 at Knoxville (the only dirt race on the schedule) are not included in the Triple Truck Challenge.