Denny Hamlin: NASCAR Clash trod “fine line between entertainment and racing”

Denny Hamlin: NASCAR Clash trod “fine line between entertainment and racing”

Speaking in the first episode this week of his new podcast, Actions Detrimental with Denny Hamlin, he questioned the wisdom of running so many cars on the temporary short track, which has been the non-championship NASCAR Cup Series curtain-raiser for the past two seasons.

The Coliseum, site of the 1932 and 1984 Olympic Games, usually plays host to College Football, soccer games and music concerts. For the second consecutive season, the NASCAR Bud Light Clash took place on a made-from-scratch, ¼-mile asphalt oval.

The 150-lap main event ended up with 16 cautions, with all but one involving at least two cars. His former teammate Kyle Busch labelled the race a “disaster” due to the “disrespect from everybody of just driving through each other”, and Hamlin used his new podcast to concur.

“The race was so crazy,” said Hamlin. “It’s such a different race when you’re running up front than you’re running in the back. Once I got spun back there, it’s awful. It’s the worst racing, it’s not even racing really, you’re just kind of bumping the car in front of you.

“It just takes one person, two rows back, to just get pissed at somebody and they just drive in and blatantly take out that person, but if that person doesn’t spin it’s the car in front that spins.

“I’m looking around after the race, and I don’t know who to be mad at. All the people got taken out – nobody was fighting! You don’t even know who was responsible.”

The Busch Clash at the LA Coliseum

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

NASCAR started 27 cars in this year’s event, four more than in the inaugural race in 2022, and Hamlin believes that was too many for the tight confines, and ruled out any talk of a full-points race at the track in future.

“We’re running the fine line between entertainment and racing at The Clash now,” he said. “Is this going to go to a regular-season points race? I agree with [Joey] Logano; there’s no way you can put 36 cars on that track, it’s impossible.

“I think you’d have better racing at that track, keep it The Clash, and stop inviting everybody to the party. If you win a pole, like [they] used to, you get in The Clash, if you don’t, you don’t show up.

“We saw in the heats and the last-chance qualifiers, we didn’t have those crazy problems because we only had 10 cars in each. Spread us out, it might not provide the boxing entertainment, but I’m wondering if the juice is still worth the squeeze on this thing.”


Photo by: Gavin Baker / NKP / Motorsport Images

Hamlin did applaud NASCAR’s promotional efforts as well as the pre- and mid-race music performances by award-winning recording artists Cypress Hill and Wiz Khalifa, and believes it’s achieving its aims of reaching out to a new demographic.

“The vibe from what I heard was amazing with the concerts and all,” he added. “The crowd was getting into it, and you can tell this is a new crowd, I think 40 percent are new fans, so I think it’s accomplishing a lot of the goals that NASCAR is wanting it to do.

“I honestly think we’re heading in a good direction but we’ve got to be careful with the fine line of getting to… [a] demolition derby.”

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