NASCAR issued a press release on Tuesday, November 9, confirming the number of drivers that will compete in the first race featuring the Next Gen stock cars. The release also explained that there will be two days of events with the first setting the field for qualifying heat races.
According to the press release, up to 40 entrants will head to the custom-built track at the LA Memorial Coliseum for practice sessions on Saturday, February 5. They will then take part in single-car qualifying runs to determine the starting order for the scheduled heat races on February 6. These heat races will air on FOX at 5 p.m. ET.
The Action Will Continue With Four Heat Races
Once the field takes part in qualifying laps, the drivers will prepare for the four heat races consisting of 25 laps each. The four fastest qualifiers will start on the pole for each heat race. The cars that qualified fifth through eighth will join the pole-sitters on the front row.
NASCAR provided an example of the methodology that will determine the remainder of each heat field. “Heat one will be made up cars with qualifying positions of one, five, nine, 13, 17, 21, 25, 29, 33, 37.”
The top four finishers from each heat race will all automatically move on to the Busch Light Clash (8 p.m. ET, FS1). The winner of the first heat race will take the pole position while the winner of the second heat race will join him on the front row of the starting order.
Once the final field is set, the drivers will compete in the first official event featuring the Next Gen cars. They will battle on the quarter-mile short track while completing 150 laps inside the iconic football stadium.
“I’ve had the chance to drive on the track through iRacing and make some laps in the NextGen car at Bowman-Gray on a similar layout, and there’s no doubt that this race is going to be awesome,” FOX Sports analyst Clint Bowyer said in a press release. “The different qualifying events and format for the Clash are only going to add to what will be an unforgettable weekend. This is definitely a race you’re not going to want to miss!”
The Remaining 24 Cars Will Have 1 Final Opportunity
While the top 16 drivers will automatically move to the Busch Light Clash, the remaining 24 will have another opportunity to lock up a spot in the main event. These drivers will take part in two 50-lap Last Chance Qualifying races.
The remaining drivers from heats one and three will make up the first LCQ race while the drivers that did not advance from heats two and four will make up the second. The fifth-place finishers from heats one and two will take the pole positions in their respective heat races.
Once the two LCQ races are complete, NASCAR will send the top three finishers (six cars total) from each event to the Busch Light Clash. They will fill out positions 17-22 of the 23-car field. 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.