Martin Truex Jr. finished .786 of a second ahead of Austin Dillon Sunday evening to win the second edition of NASCAR’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum.
Truex started second in the field of 27 and took the lead in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota on the 126th lap on the 150-lap race on the quarter-mile, asphalt oval when Ryan Preece fell back because of an electrical issue.
“Tonight, was just kind of persevere, not give up and just battle through and we found ourselves in the right spot at the end,” the 42-year-old Truex said after his first victory since Sept. 11, 2021, when he won the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders at Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Virginia.
“Sometimes they work out your way and sometimes they don’t. Tonight, it went our way.”
There were 16 cautions, 11 more than last year, the first time the annual preseason exhibition race was run at the Coliseum. It was held at Daytona International Speedway from its inception in 1979 through 2021. Laps run under a yellow flag did not count.
The cars driven by Dillon and Bubba Wallace collided on the 143rd lap, taking Wallace out of contention. He finished 22nd, last among the cars still in the race at its conclusion.
“Obviously, Bubba knocked me through the corner,” Dillon said. “I was going to hit him back. Didn’t mean to turn him like that but when it gets down to the end, I think everybody knows what’s going on and that’s what you see at places like this and Bowman Gray Stadium,” a NASCAR sanctioned quarter-mile asphalt flat oval short track in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Pole sitter Aric Almirola led through the first 16 laps. Denny Hamlin took the lead on the 17th lap, keeping it through the 42nd lap. Wallace led from the 43rd through 82nd lap. Preece took the lead on the 83rd lap.
Almirola finished 18th, Hamlin ninth and Preece seventh in his first start in the No. 41 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.
In a first for NASCAR, the top three finishers were awarded gold, silver and bronze medals in a nod to the Coliseum having been the track and field venue for the 1932 and 1984 Olympics. Truex’s gold medal weighs 4.7 ounces and is covered in 24-karat plated gold.
Like last year, the race included performances from artists in genres not traditionally associated with NASCAR. Cypress Hill performed before the race, while fellow Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist Wiz Khalifa performed at the race break.
The electronic music DJ trio Cheat Codes performed during the caution breaks and joined with social media personality Dixie D’Amelio for a performance of “I’ll Remember.”
Actor Rob Lowe was the race’s grand marshal, saying “Drivers, start your engines.” USC’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams was the honorary starter, waving the green flag for the start of the race.