Denny Hamlin Scores a Vicory in the Busch Light Clash
LOS ANGELES, CA – RIS – Denny Hamlin passed Ty Gibbs and held off the field to win the 2024 Busch Light Clash at Memorial Stadium in Los Angeles. The race was scheduled for tomorrow night, but the threat of heavy rain made NASCAR change the schedule. All that was scheduled for today was practice and qualifying, but the forecast changed that scenario after the weather forecasts.
Hamlin led the start from the pole position, but soon Joey Logano was able to pass him. The race was a typical short track race with strategy and brawn overcoming speed. Hamlin took the lead from Ty Gibbs on Lap 141 and then held off the field in overtime to capture his fourth Clash victory. This marked the second time since 2014 that Hamlin won the pole for the Clash and then went on to win the race.
Kyle Busch finished second in what was his third consecutive podium finish at the LA Memorial Coliseum. Blaney, who started last, finished third. Joey Logano and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five. Hamlin's status for the Clash was in question throughout the offseason after he underwent shoulder surgery in November. He was able to return to the No. 11 Toyota Camry XSE and he used the opportunity to score Joe Gibbs Racing's 12th Clash win.
"It's just a great momentum boost," Hamlin said after the win. "It doesn't do much more than that. I clean off all the trophies every January 1 in the entryway of the house. Now we get to add one pretty quick. So really happy about that."
With a caution flag coming out with two laps to go, the race ended in overtime after Gibbs, who led a race-high 84 laps, spun with one lap to go. This put Denny Hamlin and Blaney on the front row with Busch and Larson behind them. Once the green flag waved, Hamlin jumped to the lead as Busch dove to the inside. He was able to hold Blaney off for the victory.
The first half of the Busch Light Clash only had two cautions. Todd Gilliland spun into the outside wall on Lap 70 after losing brakes. This ended his night. John Hunter Nemechek then spun on Lap 74 after Corey LaJoie dove to his inside and made contact.
Logano led at the stage break. Kyle Larson took second after taking the field three-wide on the Lap 74 restart.
There was hard racing everywhere. Chase Elliott headed to the garage area under the caution period. He had a broken suspension, which ended his night. The field restarted on Lap 78 but did not complete a full lap before the caution flew once again. Ross Chastain spun after Michael McDowell dove to the inside of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. This took the field three-wide. The contact from Stenhouse sent Chastain spinning.
Chase Elliott headed to the garage area under the caution period. He had a broken suspension, which ended his night.
The field restarted on Lap 78 but did not complete a full lap before the caution flew once again. Ross Chastain spun after Michael McDowell dove to the inside of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. This took the field three-wide. The contact from Stenhouse sent Chastain spinning.
The exhibition race was a fitting start to the 2024 NASCAR Cup season. Now, the teams head to Daytona International Speedway for SpeedWeeks and the Daytona 500 on February 18th.
Ron Fleshman and John Davison are Editors at ris-news.com