Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum Recap & Future Odds
- Joey Logano triumphs in NASCAR’s successful foray into downtown L.A.
- But victory in the Busch Light Clash didn’t earn the Team Penske driver any love.
- Favorites for the Cup Series championship and Daytona 500 remain the same.
By all measures, NASCAR’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum was an unqualified success.
The Next Gen race car—new to the NASCAR Cup Series this year—made its competitive debut on the temporary quarter-mile track in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The consensus among drivers was that the car negotiated the tight corners of track much more adroitly than last year’s Gen 6 car would have.
Televised on FOX, the Clash drew more than 4 million viewers, up 168 percent over last year’s event at Daytona, which was broadcast on FS1.
But as an exhibition race, the Clash didn’t count in the series standings. The first points-paying race in the Cup Series comes Feb. 20—the season-opening Daytona 500.
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Joey Logano Triumphs in the First Clash Held in Los Angeles…
Joey Logano’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford crew did a magnificent job tuning the car for the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum.
Logano’s Next-Gen car struggled in practice, but by the start of time trials on Saturday afternoon, it was dialed in. Logano qualified fourth, earning the pole position for Sunday’s fourth heat race, which he won wire-to-wire.
That gave the Penske driver a second-row starting position for Sunday’s main event, and on Lap 116 of 150, Logano passed Kyle Busch for the lead right before Kyle Larson caused the final caution of the race by knocking the Chevy of Tyler Reddick into the inside concrete barrier on the front stretch.
With Busch in pursuit, Logano held the lead the rest of the way to win the race.
…But the Win Hasn’t Improved Logano’s Odds in the Daytona 500
OK, so Daytona International Speedway is 10 times longer than the quarter-mile track in the L.A. Coliseum, but shouldn’t Joey Logano’s mastery of the short track count for anything when it comes to the Feb. 20 Daytona 500?
Apparently, the oddsmakers don’t think so. Despite his team’s ability to tune the Next Gen car and give Logano optimal performance in the Busch Light Clash, he’s fourth choice to win the 500 at +1200 via DraftKings Sportsbook.
Logano won the Great American Race in 2015, and he had a great shot to win last year before falling victim to a crash with less than one lap left. So if you don’t like Logano to win the race, at least consider him for a top-three bet at +260.
Logano is getting little respect when it comes to the NASCAR Cup Series championship. DraftKings has him as the eighth choice at +1200. We think he’ll have a better year than that.
Favorites for Daytona 500 and Cup Championship Remain Unchanged
As noted above, Joey Logano’s victory in the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum had little effect on NASCAR futures—either for the Daytona 500 or for the Cup Series championship.
Denny Hamlin, who experienced a power steering belt failure in the Clash and didn’t finish the race, remains the top choice for the Great American Race (+850 via DraftKings). Hamlin is a three-time winner of the 500, and we expect him to win a fourth.
Defending Cup Series champion Kyle Larson, a 10-race winner last year, is favored to win a second straight title (+360), with Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott the second choice at +500 via DraftKings.
A word of caution: the Next Gen car is likely to shake up the standings as teams and drivers learn the nuances of the new vehicle. Hence, the title race should be less predictable.
And betting on Larson to win a second straight title flies in the face of current trends. With the exception of Jimmie Johnson’s five straight championships from 2006 through 2010, no other driver has gone back-to-back in the 21st century.
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How To Watch Daytona 500
|Daytona 500 Information|
|Race||Daytona 500 NASCAR Cup Series race|
|Location||Daytona International Speedway|
|Time||Sunday, February 20, 2:30 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||FOX|
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Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]