NASCAR will install a fabricated race track in the Los Angeles Coliseum for the second-consecutive year. The Clash is no longer a Daytona plate race. It was briefly a road course race. Now, the season opening exhibition is a faux, short-track race. There is plenty of pomp and circumstance in Hollywood but very little passing.
In the 2022 edition of this exhibition, the cars that qualified on the front two rows via the heat races were the only cars that had a shot. The race is quick and fun to watch but passing does not happen anywhere in this field let alone up front. The broadcasters and two very competent short-trackers — Clint Bowyer and Tony Stewart — agreed that Chase Elliott was the driver to beat last year. Unfortunately, Elliott was buried in traffic and went nowhere in the 2022 Clash at The Coliseum. This is a track position race.
The safest bet is to wait for the heat races to finish on Sunday afternoon, then bet the cars starting up front. At that point, their odds will be very short. The trick will be to pick these cars early in the week before practice, qualifying and the heat races.
Race Winner — Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum
Justin Haley +10,000
This is a stretch and heavily influenced by last season’s opener. Haley had a top-3 car at L.A. last season, but got wrecked out by Kyle Larson late in the race. Could he have passed his way to first? Doubtful. Also, that race was a year ago. A lot has changed. There has been an entire season of development in the Next Gen car. Regardless of the uncertainties, Haley and his Kaulig Racing team understood this track and performed well.
Joey Logano +750
His odds are not the most appealing (+750 isn’t bad for the favorite), but there is a reason for that. Logano won the inaugural Clash at The Coliseum. He also won the season-ending race at the short, flat track in Phoenix. Logano and his team participated in the preseason test where NASCAR experimented with more sporty racing packages. The underwing modification was a failure but shrinking the spoiler and returning to a racing package similar to 2018 — perhaps the best package in 20 years — showed promise. Logano earned valuable reps in this small-blade package test in late January at Phoenix.
Check back later this week for additional matchup bets and prop bets as they become available on DraftKings Sportsbook.
Race Winner — Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum
Ryan Preece +4,000
Last season, Tyler Reddick — who had never won a Cup Race — was in complete control of the Clash. That was until his RCR car — a team that had won three Cup races in the last decade — broke down. Many cars broke down in the Clash. Many cars fell apart last season. It was a thing. But that is besides the point. The point is that no one expected Reddick to compete in this race last season — he could have been a surprise winner. There very well could be a surprise winner this season. All it takes is one good hot lap in qualifying. From there, the driver is locked-in up front for their heat race. Passing doesn’t happen, so they’re locked-in up front for the Clash. From there, the driver is locked in for a top-5 finish at the least. Stewart-Haas Racing has not been a dominant force in the Cup Series during the last two seasons, but they’ve been very competitive at the short tracks. Preece grew up on short tracks, and some of his best Xfinity races have been at short tracks.
Christopher Bell +800
It’s hard to find a better short-track racer. Bell was exceptional in the Xfinity Series and has honed his skills at the Cup level. He nearly won at the short, flat track in Richmond. He did win at New Hampshire and a do-or-die race at Martinsville last October. Those are all heavy-braking, rhythm tracks. The track inside The Coliseum is microscopic and flat. There is a rhythm. The short tracker that finds his groove the quickest will excel in qualifying. Nailing qualifying is all that truly matters. Who’s likely to figure it out first? Bell because he’s one of the best short-track drivers in the series.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is greenflagradio2) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.