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NASCAR Heading To La-La Land

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 16 2021

The Busch Clash ended with a big crash in 2019 at Daytona. Next season the Clash heads to Los Angeles. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Andrew Coppley)

A non-point race in the heart of car-crazy Los Angeles and its most recognizable sports venue will kick off NASCAR’s revamped 2022 Cup Series schedule.

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a tribute to all who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War I, will add The Clash at the Coliseum to its lengthy list of Olympic and stick-and-ball events.

The season-opening exhibition will take place on Feb. 6, 2022 as the first NASCAR race held inside the iconic Los Angeles stadium since it opened in 1923. The Clash at the Coliseum will serve as a signature event during the venue’s centennial celebration and mark the first time NASCAR’s prelude to the Daytona 500 will take place somewhere other than Daytona International Speedway in Florida. The traditional regular-season-opener will take place at DIS two weeks later.

The Coliseum has been a civic treasure for generations of Angelenos, who have witnessed nine-plus decades of events including two Summer Olympics, three NFL Championships and two Super Bowls, Major League Baseball and college football.

The Clash has served as NASCAR’s prelude to the Daytona 500 since 1979.

Los Angeles is synonymous with major sports and entertainment events, so we seized an innovative opportunity to showcase NASCAR at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR senior vice president of strategy and innovation. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to take center stage in this market as we get our 2022 season underway.”

The Coliseum’s playing surface will be converted into a quarter-mile, asphalt short-track that will see Cup regulars competing for the first time in the new Next Gen cars in LA’s lucrative TV market.

The Clash at the Coliseum will be the first of two visits to Southern California, as NASCAR’s premier series also will compete at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana on a schedule spanning 39 total events. The 2022 schedule builds upon the changes initiated in 2021 by adding more new/dynamic venues.

Along those lines, the Cup Series will visit another track for the first time when the green flag flies at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill., outside St. Louis, Mo., on June 5. The 1.25-mile asymmetrical oval has hosted 21 Camping World Truck Series races since 1998 and also was part of the NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule from 1997–2010.

“I set some ambitious goals when I took over the racetrack and to see them come to fruition is a dream come true,” said Curtis Francois, WWTR owner. “Thanks to the hard work of our team, corporate partners such as Dave Steward and World Wide Technology, and sponsors like Bommarito Automotive Group, I am proud to welcome the NASCAR Cup Series to the St. Louis region. I can’t wait to celebrate this incredible victory with our fans.”

Numerous NASCAR legends and champions have visited the WWTR’s Victory Lane over the years. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1998, 1999), Kevin Harvick (2000, 2001, 2010), Kyle Busch (2009) and Brad Keselowski (2010) earned wins at WWTR early in their careers.

“As we demonstrated last year, we are committed to creating the most dynamic schedule for our fans, long-term,” Kennedy said. “With the addition of new and unique venues like the Coliseum and World Wide Technology Raceway, each in markets with passionate NASCAR fans, we’re continuing to build on bold changes to deliver the best racing in the world.

“This latest iteration of the schedule should lend itself to another season filled with drama and great racing on the track, starting with the Daytona 500 and culminating with NASCAR Championship Weekend at Phoenix Raceway.”

In another move _ and a nod to recent history _ Homestead-Miami Speedway in Florida will return to the Playoffs mix. The 1.5-mile track will be a key venue when it hosts the second of three Round of 8 races on Oct. 23. In addition, Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (Sept. 25) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 16) will swap dates and lead-off the Round of 12 and Round of 8, respectively.

In addition, Kansas Speedway will move up in the Playoffs schedule, becoming the second race in the Round of 16 (Sept. 11).

The 2022 season officially will open with the running of “The Great American Race” _ the Daytona 500 _ on Daytona International Speedway’s high-banked/2.5-mile oval on Sunday, Feb. 20, live on FOX. DIS  also will host the regular-season point-race debut of the Next Gen car.

The Cup Series will then head back out West, beginning with a stop at Auto Club Speedway on Feb. 27 _ first time NASCAR will visit the high-speed/2-mile oval in nearly two years _ followed by Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 6) and Phoenix Raceway (March 13).

Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, moves from mid-May to late spring with all three NASCAR touring series from March 25-27. Rain plagued the inaugural NASCAR at COTA weekend on the FIA-approved 3.41-mile/20-turn natural-terrain layout earlier this season.

“We’re already planning so much more for fans next season _ more fun, more access and more camping,” Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith said. “We look forward to working again with COTA CEO Bobby Epstein and his staff to produce another spectacular NASCAR event weekend in Austin for 2022.”

The Bristol Dirt Race also returns to the schedule for a second consecutive season, this time under the lights on Easter Sunday Night (April 17).

The NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race will revisit Texas Motor Speedway’s high-banked/1.5-mile oval for a second consecutive season in 2022. The $1-million-to-win event featuring NASCAR’s biggest stars will shift to earlier in the season on Sunday, May 22. The move from mid-June should provide cooler temperatures for fans at “The Great American Speedway,” now under direction of Senior Vice President and General Manager Rob Ramage.

After a natural off-week (June 19) following the conclusion of FOX Sports’ Cup Series coverage, Nashville Superspeedway will usher in NBC Sports’ portion of the schedule on June 26. Action in the Music City will be followed by another fan-favorite, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc., which will highlight Fourth of July festivities for the second consecutive season.

Watkins Glen International’s famed 2.45-mile/seven turn road-course will host the penultimate race of the regular-season (Aug. 21) followed by an intense regular-season finale under the lights at Daytona International Speedway (Aug. 27) _ two distinctly different but equally pivotal tracks in determining the NASCAR Playoffs field.

“Moving our race to later in August means the drivers will be in desperation mode to secure one of the few remaining chances at the championship,” WGI President Michael Printup said. “Dreams will be made, and title hopes dashed, on the twists and turns at The Glen.”

As previously noted, Phoenix Raceway will be home to NASCAR Championship Weekend for the third consecutive year, Nov. 4–6.

Start times and specific networks will be announced at a later date, as will the full 2022 schedules for the NASCAR Xfinity and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Below is the full 2022 NASCAR Cup Series schedule:

Sunday, Feb. 6 _ The Clash, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Thursday, Feb. 17 _ Duel at Daytona, Daytona International Speedway

Sunday, Feb. 20 _ Daytona 500, Daytona International Speedway

Sunday, Feb. 27 _ Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, Calif.

Sunday, March 6 _ Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sunday, March 13 _ Phoenix Raceway

Sunday, March 20 _ Atlanta Motor Speedway

Sunday, March 27 _ Circuit of The Americas, Austin, Texas

Sunday, April 3 _ Richmond Raceway

Saturday, April 9 _ Martinsville Speedway

Sunday, April 17 _ Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track

Sunday, April 24 _ Talladega Superspeedway

Sunday, May 1 _ Dover International Speedway

Sunday, May 8 _ Darlington Speedway

Sunday, May 15 _ Kansas Speedway

Sunday, May 22 _ NASCAR All-Star Race, Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth

Sunday, May 29 _Charlotte Motor Speedway

Sunday, June 5 _ World Wide Technology Raceway, Madison, Ill.

Sunday, June 12 _ Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway

Sunday, June 26 _ Nashville Superspeedway

Sunday, July 3 _ Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisc.

Sunday, July 10 _ Atlanta Motor Speedway

Sunday, July 17 _ New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Sunday, July 24 _ Pocono Raceway

Sunday, July 31 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course

Sunday, Aug. 7 _ Michigan International Speedway

Sunday, Aug. 14 _ Richmond Raceway

Sunday, Aug. 21 _ Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International

Saturday, Aug. 27 _Daytona International Speedway

PLAYOFFS SCHEDULE

Sunday, Sept. 4 _ Darlington Raceway

Sunday, Sept 11 _ Kansas Speedway

Saturday, Sept. 17 _ Bristol Motor Speedway

Sunday, Sept. 25 _ Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth 

Sunday, Oct. 2 _ Talladega Superspeedway

Sunday, Oct. 9 _ Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval

Sunday, Oct. 16 _ Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sunday, Oct. 23 _Homestead-Miami Speedway

Sunday, Oct. 30 _ Martinsville Speedway

Sunday, Nov. 6 _ Phoenix Raceway

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, September 16 2021
One Comment

One Comment »

  • Chris Bauman says:

    All NASCAR needs to do is to add some whoop-de-doo jumps to the backstretch at the Coliseum in order to make this gimmick complete.