Kyle Busch leads Busch Light Clash qualifying

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is officially a NASCAR Cup Series circuit. Saturday saw thirty-six drivers take to the temporary quarter-mile short track for practice and qualifying ahead of the Busch Light Clash on Sunday.

Living up to the race sponsor, Kyle Busch was the quickest in qualifying, though it does not guarantee he will start on the pole for the Clash as the starting grid is set by four heat races. Tyler Reddick, Justin Haley, and Joey Logano followed and will have the poles for their respective heats.

Qualifying order was set based on an inverse of the 2021 owner points, with the field being split into two groups of eighteen each; a similar format was used for practice earlier in the day, albeit with three groups. Kurt Busch was the first driver to take a qualifying lap around the track, setting what would be the thirty-second fastest time. B.J. McLeod briefly stole the show when he had the fastest time as the seventh driver out, though he was quickly beaten by fellow initial user A.J. Allmendinger. Landon Cassill, Cole Custer, and Haley also enjoyed time as the top dogs. By the end, Haley topped the chart for Group 1.

Rookie Harrison Burton was the first of Group 2 to set a time. After Reddick set a blazing time that shot him to the provisional pole (over a tenth of a second faster than Haley), a caution briefly came out for debris in turn four. Busch surpassed Reddick by .024 to secure the top spot.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Busch. “It’s just different with the opportunity to do something like this. NASCAR took a lot of flak on what this was going to look like and what it was going to be. But we’re having a great time.”

As the top four in qualifying, Busch, Reddick, Haley, and Logano will each start on the pole in the four heat races. The top four in each advance to the final while the rest are relegated to a pair of Last Chance Qualifiers, with the top three in those moving on. The twenty-third and final spot is given to the driver highest in 2021 points but had not locked themselves into the feature. The provisional means defending champion Kyle Larson is guaranteed a spot in the Clash even if he fails to qualify via heat or LCQ performance. On the other hand, even being the fastest qualifier does not mean Busch is locked into the Clash.

“We’re not in yet, we still have to go through that heat race,” added Busch.

Chase Elliott, who was the fastest in practice, was seventh. Bubba Wallace brushed the wall and finished last during practice but rebounded to qualify seventeenth.

Qualifying results

Position Number Driver Team Manufacturer Best Time Best Speed (mph)
1 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 13.745 65.478
2 8 Tyler Reddick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 13.761 65.402
3 31 Justin Haley Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 13.891 64.790
4 22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 13.949 64.521
5 99 Daniel Suárez Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 13.952 64.507
6 41 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 13.953 64.502
7 9 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 13.954 64.498
8 5 Kyle Larson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 13.957 64.484
9 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 13.962 64.461
10 21 Harrison Burton Wood Brothers Racing Ford 13.965 64.447
11 24 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 13.973 64.410
12 34 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 13.978 64.387
13 12 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 14.007 64.254
14 48 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 14.014 64.221
15 20 Christopher Bell Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 14.023 64.180
16 77 Landon Cassill* Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 14.050 64.057
17 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 14.053 64.043
18 23 Bubba Wallace 23XI Racing Toyota 14.076 63.939
19 16 A.J. Allmendinger* Kaulig Racing Chevrolet 14.120 63.739
20 2 Austin Cindric Team Penske Ford 14.148 63.613
21 10 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 14.151 63.600
22 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 14.157 63.573
23 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 14.158 63.568
24 43 Erik Jones Petty GMS Motorsports Chevrolet 14.194 63.407
25 78 B.J. McLeod Live Fast Motorsports Ford 14.235 63.224
26 14 Chase Briscoe Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 14.247 63.171
27 17 Chris Buescher RFK Racing Ford 14.251 63.153
28 15 Ryan Preece Rick Ware Racing Ford 14.277 63.038
29 38 Todd Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford 14.304 62.919
30 6 Brad Keselowski RFK Racing Ford 14.305 62.915
31 7 Corey LaJoie Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 14.326 62.823
32 45 Kurt Busch 23XI Racing Toyota 14.437 62.340
33 1 Ross Chastain Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet 14.451 62.279
34 19 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 14.466 62.215
35 51 Cody Ware Rick Ware Racing Ford 14.471 62.193
36 42 Ty Dillon Petty GMS Motorsports Chevrolet 14.532 61.932
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Cup points

Heat race starting lineups

Heat #1

Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer
1 18 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
2 99 Daniel Suárez Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet
3 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet
4 12 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford
5 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
6 10 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
7 78 B.J. McLeod Live Fast Motorsports Ford
8 38 Todd Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford
9 1 Ross Chastain Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet

Heat #2

Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer
1 8 Tyler Reddick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
2 41 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
3 21 Harrison Burton Wood Brothers Racing Ford
4 48 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
5 23 Bubba Wallace 23XI Racing Toyota
6 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
7 14 Chase Briscoe Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
8 6 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford
9 19 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Heat #3

Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer
1 31 Justin Haley Kaulig Racing Chevrolet
2 9 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
3 24 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
4 20 Christopher Bell Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
5 16 A.J. Allmendinger* Kaulig Racing Chevrolet
6 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
7 17 Chris Buescher RFK Racing Ford
8 7 Corey LaJoie Spire Motorsports Chevrolet
9 51 Cody Ware Rick Ware Racing Ford

Heat #4

Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer
1 22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford
2 5 Kyle Larson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
3 34 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford
4 77 Landon Cassill* Spire Motorsports Chevrolet
5 2 Austin Cindric Team Penske Ford
6 43 Erik Jones Petty GMS Motorsports Chevrolet
7 15 Ryan Preece Rick Ware Racing Ford
8 45 Kurt Busch 23XI Racing Toyota
9 42 Ty Dillon Petty GMS Motorsports Chevrolet

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