For the second straight year, the NASCAR Cup Series will open its season with the Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum, on a purpose-built quarter-mile facility located in Los Angeles, California.
On Thursday, NASCAR officials announced the eligibility for the exhibition event, as well as the race’s format, which although mostly the same for the race’s second iteration, does have a couple of key changes for 2023.
Firstly, as was the case for the inaugural event in 2022, all 36 chartered entries in the NASCAR Cup Series will be eligible to make the trip to Los Angeles for the 2023 Busch Light Clash. As will any open entries wishing to compete for one of the four spots in the field for open teams.
In order to set the starting lineup for the heats, all entries will run single-car qualifying on Saturday (February 4), which will be comprised of one round and three laps (one warmup, and two times laps). The fastest four drivers will each earn pole for their respective heats.
Should there be more than 40 vehicles entered in the 2023 Busch Light Clash, the fastest four open cars will advance into the heat races, while anybody outside of the top four in open entries will be sent home.
Based on qualifying speeds, the field will be divided into four separate heat races, each of which will run for 25 green-flag laps. Of the drivers in each heat, only the top five will advance to the Busch Light Clash, while the remaining drivers will be sent to one of two LCQ.
Each of the Last Chance Qualifiers will be made up of 50 green-flag laps around the quarter-mile track. The sixth-place finisher from Heat #1 will start on the pole for LCQ 1 (Heat 1 and Heat 3), while the sixth-place finisher from Heat #2 will start on the pole for LCQ 2 (Heat 2 and Heat 4).
In both iterations of the LCQ, the top-three finishers will move on to the main event, while the remaining drivers will be sent home, without competing in the main event.
Once 26 drivers have advanced to the 2023 Busch Light Clash, NASCAR will award an additional position – 27th-place starting spot – to the highest driver in NASCAR Cup Series point standings from the previous year, which has not qualified for the event.
The 27-car starting field marks an increase of four entrants from last season, where only 23 cars took the green flag for the main event.
For the main event, the race will be comprised of 150 green-flag laps, with the starting lineup happening as follows:
- P1 to P4 – P1 in Heat Races
- P5 to P8 – P2 in Heat Races
- P9 to P12 – P3 in Heat Races
- P13 to P16 – P4 in Heat Races
- P17 to P20 – P5 in Heat Races
- P21 & P22 – P1 in LCQs
- P23 & P24 – P2 in LCQs
- P25 & P26 – P3 in LCQs
- P27 – Highest driver in 2022 NASCAR Cup Series points not already in the field.