The sound of roaring engines and the smell of burning rubber filled Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Sunday, and Joey Logano emerged the winner of the Busch Light Clash.
NASCAR — which built a temporary quarter-mile asphalt auto-racing track atop the turf where Trojans usually trod — kicked off its 2022 schedule with the preseason, non-points exhibition race.
Logano took the lead with 34 laps to go and held off hard-charging pole winner Kyle Busch to win by 0.877 of a second.
“I can’t believe it,” Logano said after completing the race in 57 minutes, 39 seconds at an average speed of 39.029 mph. “We’re here. The L.A. Coliseum. We got the victory with the old Shell/Pennzoil Mustang. This is an amazing event.
“I’m out of breath,” Logano continued. “I was so excited about this. This is a big win. My wife is having a baby tomorrow, our third one, so a pretty big weekend for us.”
Busch had led from the 54th through 115th laps, as well as from the second to the third.
Tyler Reddick started second, led after the first lap and from the fourth through 53rd laps when he was forced out of the race because of a broken drivetrain.
Qualifying was held Saturday. There were four heats and two last-chance qualifiers Sunday to determine the 23-car field for Sunday’s 150-lap main event.
The Coliseum race marked the first time NASCAR opened its schedule outside of Daytona Beach, Florida.
The sound of music also filled the Coliseum. Pitbull performed before the main event and Ice Cube took the stage during a race break.
“I think it was an incredible day for the sport,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s senior vice president of strategic innovation. “Really proud of NASCAR, the industry, everyone coming together. Patrick Rogers, the entire team did an incredible job, Derek Muldowney and the rest of the folks, building a track. Really proud of the group.”
Rogers is NASCAR’s vice president of marketing. Muldowney is president NASCAR Design & Development.
NASCAR will conduct “a pretty in-depth postmortem on this event … then really think about what the future might look like both for being here at the L.A. Coliseum and the type of venue in general too,” Kennedy said.
The attendance figure was not released.
“The crowd met every expectation we had going in,” said NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell. “When you look at the naysayers prior to, when you look at where we were with the Clash in Daytona, it’s a home run.
“I think the enthusiasm, the demographic, a lot of young people out there having fun, is exactly what we wanted.”