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Denny Hamlin Wins the 2024 Clash at The Coliseum

Back in November, a Champion was crowned in the Arizona desert as Ryan Blaney clinched his first career NASCAR Cup Series Championship. Now, in February, almost three months later, NASCAR is back. As the sun faded in the southern California sky, a new season for the NASCAR Cup Series began. 2024 is expected to be one of the best seasons in NASCAR thus far. A new season with new drivers in new places, and rookies who will take a crack at the Cup Series. Two years ago, NASCAR wanted to try something new. Something that had never been done before.

They partnered with the city of Los Angeles to build a tiny quarter-mile track inside the Los Angeles Coliseum. The hype was real for this event in 2022. Now, for the third time, NASCAR returned for the season-opening All-Star Race known as The Clash, in Los Angeles. This time, we saw a familiar, unpopular, face in victory lane. Let’s discuss what happened this past weekend in Los Angeles.

Hamlin Wins in Los Angeles:

We’ve known for years that Denny Hamlin was an unpopular driver, and his unpopularity has been more evident than ever. He has made countless fans mad, upset, and angry with his comments in the media, and his actions on the track. His cocky, no holds barred attitude has won him 51 races in the Cup Series. His 51 wins are the most wins for a driver in Cup Series history without a Championship. Over the offseason, Hamlin said that he had surgery for a bone spur, and other torn ligaments in his right shoulder. He said that he wouldn’t be 100% for the start of the season, but he might’ve proven that he’s at 100% on Saturday night. Hamlin started on the pole for The Clash and looked to have the car to beat early in the race.

He fell back after a few restarts in the first half, and it looked like it was going to be Ty Gibbs’ race to lose. But with 10 laps to go, Michael McDowell would bring out the caution to set up a late-race restart. Gibbs would fade back on the restart, which gave the lead to Hamlin. Even with a green-white-checkered finish, Hamlin didn’t look back. This was Hamlin’s fourth career win in The Clash, the first since 2016. Hamlin is one of three drivers in history to win The Clash before winning his first career points-paying race. Could this be a preview of 2024? Only time will tell.

Was the 2024 Clash a Success?

Of the three races that NASCAR has hosted at the LA Coliseum, this was the most successful event. With historic rain and flooding in the forecast for LA from Sunday morning to Wednesday, NASCAR made the call to race the main event on Saturday evening. This was the best decision that NASCAR executives have made for a single race in years. Yes, the weather was crummy and yes, there was low fan attendance. And yes, there was no Machine Gun Kelly concert during the break period in the race, but it was a successful weekend. There was great racing in both The Clash, as well as The Mexico Series Race. It was also a historic weekend for the NASCAR Mexico Series Race. Daniel Suarez, who failed to qualify for The Clash, won The Mexico Series Race late Saturday night.

Overall, as previously said, considering moving the race up to Saturday night, and with the low fan attendance, the weekend was still successful. There was great racing in both events, as well as tempers flaring. Despite being the weekend successful, there is one question that remains on the minds of fans and drivers. Should The Clash be moved for 2025? If so, then where should it be moved?

Should the Clash be moved for 2025?

In short terms, yes. After last season’s Clash at the Coliseum, many fans were expecting NASCAR to move The Clash for this year, Alas, it was not moved. The time is right to move The Clash either to a new location or back to Daytona. For years, The Clash at Daytona was a tradition during speedweeks, a fun All-Star Race for drivers before the Daytona 500. Now, The Clash is used as an experimental race to test the boundaries as to what the sport can do. A few locations that The Clash could move to include Daytona, The Charlotte Roval, and the Nashville Fairgrounds. Last year, NASCAR brought North Wilkesboro Speedway back for the first time since 1996 for the All-Star Race last season. Now is the time to branch out and experiment with The Clash. It could be pivotal for the future of the sport of NASCAR.

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