Truex Ends Drought With Clash Win at L.A. Coliseum

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, February 6 2023

Martin Truex, Jr., was first across the finish line in Sunday’s Cup exhibition in Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer

Welcome back to victory lane, MTJ.

Teetering on retirement last fall after failing to post a win in 2022, a rejuvenated Martin Truex Jr. snagged the lead from Ryan Preece with 22 laps remaining then slammed the door on the field during a series of late restarts to win Sunday night’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, NASCAR’s unofficial season opener.

The 2017 Cup champion fended off a brief challenge from Kyle Busch on the final restart, then pulled away from second-place finisher Austin Dillon as the checkered flag waved.

“Last year was a pretty tough season for us, with no wins,” Truex said. “To come out and here and kick off this way, I’m just proud of these guys.

“Tonight was just kind of persevere and not give up, battle through and we found ourself up front at the end. Sometimes it works out your way and sometimes they don’t.

“Tonight, it went our way.”

As Truex drove away from the pack, Dillon and Bubba Wallace, who led 57 laps, dueled for the runner-up spot when the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet entered Turn 3 hot and sent the No. 23 Toyota owned by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan into the wall.

“I hate it for Bubba,” said Dillon, the 2018 Daytona 500 champion. “He had a good car and a good run. But you can’t tell who’s either pushing him or getting pushed. I just know he sent me through the corner.

“I saved it three times through there, released the brake and all kind of stuff. And when I got down, I was going to do the same. It probably was a little too hard.”

Dillon’s new Richard Childress Racing teammate, Busch, put on a show during the final third of the 150 lap race when stormed through the field in his No. 8 Chevrolet from the rear of the field, after spinning thanks to a hit in the corner from Joey Logano, to second before settling for third.

“It was a battle all night long,” Busch said. “You can’t count us out. We used the outside to make a lot of passes because it got bottled up on the bottom when they started bumper-tagging.

“I just went around them on the outside. Deep in the field, you can kind of do some of that and work around them.

“Overall, it’s good to get back up to third. I could have gotten second but I let Austin go. He was better than us in practice and better than at the beginning of the race on the long runs. I thought he could have a shot at getter closer to (Truex). I would have pushed him past (Truex) in order for us to get 1-2. But we never made it there.”

Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five, in a race that was slowed by 16 cautions.

Tyler Reddick, Preece (who led a race-high 43 laps), Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin and William Byron rounded out the top ten.

NASCAR is idle next weekend as the NFL takes centerstage with Super Bowl LVII.

The Cup Series will run its version of the Super Bowl on Sunday Feb. 19th with the running of the 65th annual Daytona 500. The race will air live on FOX and MRN Radio at 2:30 p.m. EST.


NASCAR Cup Series Race – Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Los Angeles, California

Sunday, February 5, 2023

  1. (2)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 150.
  2. (10)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 150.
  3. (6)  Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 150.
  4. (5)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 150.
  5. (14)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 150.
  6. (11)  Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 150.
  7. (16)  Ryan Preece, Ford, 150.
  8. (12)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 150.
  9. (3)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 150.
  10. (4)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 150.
  11. (9)  Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 150.
  12. (18)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 150.
  13. (23)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 150.
  14. (13)  Noah Gragson #, Chevrolet, 150.
  15. (7)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 150.
  16. (17)  Joey Logano, Ford, 150.
  17. (15)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 150.
  18. (1)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 150.
  19. (19)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 150.
  20. (26)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 150.
  21. (22)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 150.
  22. (8)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 150.
  23. (25)  Todd Gilliland, Ford, Fuel, 140.
  24. (21)  Michael McDowell, Ford, Fuel, 137.
  25. (27)  Austin Cindric, Ford, Engine, 106.
  26. (24)  Ty Gibbs #, Toyota, Suspension, 81.
  27. (20)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, Suspension, 16.


Average Speed of Race Winner:  21.831 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 43 Mins, 4 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .786 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  16 for 0 laps.

Lead Changes:  4 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   A. Almirola 1-16;D. Hamlin 17-42;B. Wallace 43-82;R. Preece 83-125;M. Truex Jr. 126-150.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Ryan Preece 1 time for 43 laps; Bubba Wallace 1 time for 40 laps; Denny Hamlin 1 time for 26 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 25 laps; Aric Almirola 1 time for 16 laps.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, February 6 2023
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