Drivers react to bruising Clash at the Coliseum

Drivers react to bruising Clash at the Coliseum

Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon didn’t seem particularly surprised that the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum was indeed a battle in tight confines.

The second running of the exhibition event featured 16 caution flags and took nearly two hours to run 150 laps. It didn’t help that caution laps didn’t count and with all the contact, it was hard for the field to get into a rhythm of green flag runs.

“Last year’s show, I felt like was relatively clean and good racing, some bumping and banging, but we could run long stretches of green flag action,” said Busch. “Where today was (what) I would call a disaster with just the disrespect of everybody driving through each other and not letting everything work its way out.

“It’s a quarter mile. It’s tight-quarters racing. This is probably how it should have gone last year, so we got spoiled with a good show the first year. Maybe this was just normal.”

Per the caution flag breakdown, 21 of 27 drivers who ran the Busch Light Clash were involved in incidents throughout the night. Busch was among them. He was spun by Joey Logano with 64 laps to go, fell to last and finished third.

His Richard Childress Racing teammate Dillon also had contact throughout the night. Not only was Dillon the receiving end, taking offense to what he said was repeated contact with Bubba Wallace, but then returned the favor on Wallace – who was running second – with seven laps to go.

Austin Dillon and Wallace came together late on. Motorsport Images

“Everybody has got better since last year, so the parity was close,” Dillon said. “There were a lot of fast guys, and if you were faster than someone, you kind of have to bump them because they can check up on exit of the corner and stop you. So, if you get that run and are there, you have to use it or be used.”

When NASCAR arrived at the Coliseum a year ago, it was a new track and the series rolled out a new car for the first time, too. Not only was the facility an unknown, but driving the car, how it would handle, and what kind of racing it would produce was a question. The inaugural Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum finished in under an hour and there were only five caution flags.

Legacy Motor Club rookie Noah Gragson said on Sunday night was “just a pinball machine out there.”

Christopher Bell tweeted that he felt like “we were in a washing machine all night.” Bell was involved in two of the 16 caution flags.

Alex Bowman was just happy he and his Hendrick Motorsports team were in the main event. Bowman did not qualify for the Busch Light Clash last year and said it was better to be trying to avoid the carnage than on the way to the airport.

“It’s tough when it takes 45 minutes to make like six laps or whatever that was,” Bowman said. “That was pretty bad when we were just crashing and crashing and crashing. But I feel like last year’s feature was a little bit cleaner than this year’s for whatever reason. I think it’s a great event and cool to be a part of it.”

Clash winner Martin Truex Jr. was one of the six drivers not listed in the caution report. And afterward, Truex was asked if the event felt similar to he ran the Busch North Series, which was short track racing in the northeast.

“It was funny, after victory lane, I was like, I’ve raced a lot of races that are 150 laps because most of our races back then were 150s, and I don’t ever remember one taking that long,” Truex said with a laugh. “That felt like a 400-mile race. It was forever and ever. Caution, caution, caution.

“We raced on a lot of tracks that was a lot of beating and banging like that, especially for me up front on those restarts with how many times we’d go back and forth. It definitely reminded me a lot of those short tracks back in those days, but not really taking each other, just running hard, rubbing a lot and getting out of shape. It was a ton of fun.”