Clash winner Logano hails ‘huge step’ for NASCAR

Joey Logano celebrates his Clash at The Coliseum win. Picture: NASCAR

Joey Logano has hailed the inaugural Clash at The Coliseum a success as NASCAR ushered in a new era of stock car racing.

For the first time in Cup Series history, NASCAR built a quarter-mile oval inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

It also marked the first race with NASCAR’s new-for-2022 stock cars dubbed Next Gen.

The new cars from Ford, Chevrolet, and Toyota bear a greater resemblance to their road-going counterparts with larger rims and symmetrical silhouettes.

The 150-lapper was split with a half-time show featuring a performance from rapper Ice Cube.

Pre-race performances included a cameo from NASCAR team owner Pitbull, who recently bought into Trackhouse Racing.

The grid itself was set by heat races with a last-chance-qualifier the curtain raiser to the main event.

In what was a ding-dong battle for the win, Team Penske’s Logano overcame Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch, who had started on pole.

Busch led a race-high 64 laps but was moved out of the way by Logano just one lap prior to the mid-race break.

Logano was unmoved from there, surviving a late race attack from Busch despite lapped traffic.

“I can’t believe it, we’re here, the LA Coliseum, we got the victory with the old Shell Pennzoil Mustang,” said Logano.

“This is an amazing event. Congratulations NASCAR. This is such a huge step in our industry to be able to do this, put on this amazing race for everybody.

“I’m out of breath, I’m so excited about this. It was a big win.

“This is big. My wife is having a baby tomorrow, her third one, so a pretty big weekend for us.

“This is special, to get the first Next Gen win, the first win out here in the Coliseum, it’s a special one,” he added.

“We’re going to have some fun and celebrate it.”

Logano said he relished the build-up to the main event, spending time in the grandstands with fans during the heat races.

“Obviously the hype around this, football games lately they’re advertising The Clash as much as they’re advertising the Daytona 500,” Logano added.

“That, to me, puts it into perspective a little bit on what this event meant to our sport – how big of a gamble this really was.

“This could have gone awful. It went great out there. I could see the build-up throughout the weekend a little bit.

“Under the lights last night was pretty cool. Rolling out to the heat race and seeing the stands start to fill up. You start to realise this is going to be a big event.”

The NASCAR season continues with its second exhibition race, the Duel at Daytona, on February 17 (local time).

The first points-paying event, the Daytona 500, takes place on February 20 (local time).

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