The Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum takes place on Sunday, February 6. This race will mark the first time that the Gen 7 stock cars have faced off with bragging rights on the line, and the two most recent NASCAR Cup Series champions currently have the best odds to win.
According to OddsChecker, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott both sit at +600 heading toward the exhibition race. The teammates have each reached Victory Lane at short tracks during their Cup Series careers, but they will battle at the shortest track.
Larson and Elliott are not the only Cup Series champions with favorable odds to win the Busch Light Clash. Denny Hamlin (+650), 2017 champion Martin Truex Jr. (+700), and two-time champion Kyle Busch (+800) round out the top five.
The Sunday schedule of the Busch Light Clash weekend will begin at 3 p.m. ET with the four qualifying heat races. The two Last Chance Qualifiers will follow at 4:10 p.m. ET (approximately). Once the final LCQ races are complete, Pitbull will perform a 45-minute concert for the fans in attendance. The main event will then take place at 6 p.m. ET. FOX will provide coverage for the entire day of action.
The 2 Champions Will Have To Reach the Main Event
While the two Hendrick Motorsports teammates have the best odds to win the Busch Light Clash, they will first have to reach the main event. They don’t have guaranteed spots in the exhibition race due to the unique setup.
The first step will be securing a spot near the front of the pack in one of the four qualifying races. They will pursue this goal during single-car qualifying on Saturday, February 5. The top four drivers from each of the four heat races on February 6 will move on to the main event. The rest will compete in the two Last Chance Qualifying races.
If Elliott and Larson don’t move on to the main event after their respective heat races, they will have one final opportunity to secure a spot during the Last Chance Qualifiers. The top three drivers from each of the two races will move on to the main event.
While there is no reason to doubt that Elliott and Larson will both reach the main event, there will be a lifeline for one of them. The final spot in the exhibition event will go to the driver who finished the highest in the 2021 points standings who does not transfer through one of the previous races. Larson won the championship while Elliott finished fourth in the standings, so either driver would essentially have a guaranteed spot.
Ford Drivers Have Decent Odds To Win
The four Cup Series champions and Hamlin sit atop the list of drivers with the best odds, but there are some Ford drivers in contention. According to OddsChecker, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney both sit at +1100. Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick sit in a tie at +1600. William Byron (+1300) separates the Ford drivers.
The Ford teams struggled to keep up with the Chevrolet and Toyota drivers during the 2021 season, but they will have a new opportunity to contend when they get behind the wheels of the Gen 7 stock cars. Logano, in particular, will compete at a style of track where he has multiple wins.
The Team Penske driver has 27 career wins in his career. Eight have taken place at superspeedways while 12 have been at intermediate tracks. Logano also has five wins at short tracks and another at Watkins Glen International, all of which required a high-horsepower package. The Busch Light Clash will have the new package that includes 670-horsepower setups, playing into Logano’s skillset.
Keselowski and Harvick sit in similar situations considering that they have each won seven races on short tracks during their championship careers. They have consistently fought for the checkered flag while driving multiple generations of stock cars. Now they will help welcome the Gen 7 era while fighting for the first win of the year.