The second edition of the Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum came to a close on February 5 with 16 cautions. This led to several hurt feelings and spicy social media posts as the drivers searched for the main reason for the chaos.
According to Austin Dillon and Chase Briscoe, the playing field was level. The drivers and cars were all better, and there were no entries that were easy to pass. Instead, the competitors had to be even more aggressive while shoving each other out of the way.
“Yeah, and everybody has gotten a little better since last year, so the parity was close,” Dillon told media members after the race. “There were a lot of fast guys. The little bit, if you are faster than someone, you kind of have to bump them because they can kind of check up on the exit of the corner and stop you. If you get that run and you’re there, you kind of have to use it or be used.”
“I mean, last year’s show I felt like was relatively clean and good racing, some bumping, some banging, but we could run long stretches of green flag action,” Kyle Busch said. “Where today was — I would call it a disaster with the disrespect from everybody of just driving through each other and not just letting everything kind of work its way out.
“But it’s a quarter mile. It’s tight-quarters racing. Actually, this is probably how it should have gone last year, so we got spoiled with a good show the first year. Maybe this was just normal.”
Both RCR Drivers Were Involved in Incidents
There were so many incidents that occurred during the Busch Light Clash, that it was often difficult to track which drivers were mad at each other. Ross Chastain spun Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick spun William Byron, and Joey Logano spun Busch. The list goes on with other incidents involving Austin Cindric and Ty Gibbs among other drivers.
Busch made multiple strong comments about Logano during his post-race media availabilities, but he also made it clear that he purposely chose not to wreck his fellow driver. Though Richard Childress was encouraging him over the radio.
“Trust me, I started behind him a couple times on restarts and never really got a great chance,” Busch said. “I probably could have, but it was more important to go forward than retaliate. I don’t think there’s a lot of others that thought that way. Look at where they finished.”
Dillon was involved in a high-profile incident with Bubba Wallace. The two drivers were among the best in the field, and they spent time bumping and banging doors for multiple laps while fighting for the lead. However, one particular shot from Dillon sent Wallace into the wall and brought out the 15th caution.
“[Dillon] just never tried to make a corner,” Wallace said after the race, per NBC Sports. “He just always ran into my left rear. It is what it is. I got run into the fence by him down the straightaway on that restart, so I gave him a shot and then we get dumped.”
“I hate it for [Wallace] because he was really good,” Dillon said. “We were a little better on the long run and I got by him pretty clean the first time, and I chose to restart there behind Martin thinking that if we could get off [Turn 2] and then I could just race, but it just doesn’t go that way.
“You’re just getting beat and beat, and then when we went through [Turns 1 and 2], I mean, I got crossed up. I thought I was going to wreck into the inside wall and I got hit, and my spotter told me, ‘Release the brake, release the brake.’ Got shoved all the way to the third lane outside. So after that, he said, ‘Three wide,’ I think, one time, two wide, and then… I mean, yeah, I was probably pretty frustrated at that point.”
There Were Drivers That Attempted to Avoid Incidents
While it appeared that the majority of drivers were involved in incidents with each other, there were some that were able to avoid the carnage. Alex Bowman and Martin Truex Jr. are two examples.
Both drivers left the LA Memorial Coliseum with some marks on their stock cars, but they were from short track racing. They were bumping and banging doors. They weren’t getting caught up in the carnage and being sent spinning. This made the event more enjoyable for both of them and led to them leaving Southern California in a much better mood than some of their peers.
“Yeah, I think there was a couple good restarts from the outside the beginning of the second half of the race when we had a restart every half a lap,” Bowman explained during his media session. “That helped us. I think we went from eighth to second there pretty quickly.
“Obviously, that was a big gain for us, and then just kind of got put back a little bit. I had one bad restart from the outside of the front row, and that hurt our finishing position. But yeah, really good race car, and those couple restarts kind of got us out of the mess.”
“When you’re up front and you’re just kind of banging and beating and guys are sliding into the corner making mistakes and all that, that’s fun,” Truex added after celebrating his win.
“It’s no fun when you just get run over and turned around, which I feel like is a lot of what was going on with all the cautions. Luckily we weren’t involved in that. We had a few instances where it got close, but we were able to hang on.”
These incidents took place during an exhibition race at the LA Memorial Coliseum. The drivers weren’t even battling for points, but they were very aggressive. Does this serve as an indicator that they will continue to be throughout the rest of the 2023 season? This answer will remain unclear until they complete multiple races.