Last season was a difficult one for former NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. After winning a total of 29 races between the 2015 and 2021 seasons, 2022 saw Truex get shut out of Victory Lane for the first time in eight years. But a new year means a blank slate for Truex, one that now includes a victory at the fabled L.A. Coliseum.
After surviving a slugfest of a season-opening exhibition race, Truex Jr. took the lead from Ryan Preece with 25 laps to go and never looked back on his way to victory in the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum. Truex's victory is his first in the Clash, and it's his first win of any kind since his last points-paying Cup win at Richmond in September 2021.
Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum unofficial results
- #19 - Martin Truex Jr.
- #3 - Austin Dillon
- #8 - Kyle Busch
- #48 - Alex Bowman
- #5 - Kyle Larson
- #45 - Tyler Reddick
- #41 - Ryan Preece
- #1 - Ross Chastain
- #11 - Denny Hamlin
- #24 - William Byron
"Last year was a pretty rough season for us, with no wins. To come out here and kick it off this way, just really proud of all these guys," Truex told Fox Sports. "Tonight was just kind of persevere, not give up and just battle through. And we found ourselves in the right spot at the end. Sometimes they work out your way, sometimes they don't. Tonight it went our way."
Truex signaled the strength of his car by putting down the fastest time in practice on Saturday, and he would go on to start second in Sunday night's main event after winning his Heat race earlier in the day. However, Truex would not find the front of the field immediately, instead putting himself in position to capitalize at the end as other drivers took themselves out of the running.
After the 2021 Clash saw just five cautions in total despite the close confines of a quarter-mile track, Sunday night's race was an extremely high contact affair, with 16 cautions in total including a flurry of yellow flags that occurred after the halfway break. Among the drivers to be involved in accidents included Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Justin Haley, Christopher Bell and a whole host of others including Bubba Wallace, who led 40 laps before getting spun with seven laps to go while racing Austin Dillon for second.
While Wallace led much of the midway portion of the Clash, the second half would see Ryan Preece put the field on upset alert. In his first run with Stewart-Haas Racing, Preece came to life in the second half and proceeded to lead a race-high 43 laps before losing the lead to Truex. Preece would wind up fading to seventh after his car briefly suffered what was reported to be an electrical issue.
Also taking turns at the front were Aric Almirola, who led the opening 16 laps of the race, and Denny Hamlin, who would lead 26 on the evening.
With the Clash now setting the stage for 2023, the season officially starts in two weeks with none other than The Great American Race. The 65th running of the Daytona 500 will open the NASCAR Cup Series season on Sunday, Feb. 19.