Seventeen drivers are officially locked into the Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Coliseum after four relatively clean heat races started Sunday’s action.
The polesitters from all four heat races led every lap on their way to advancing into the main event (6 p.m. ET). Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Justin Haley, and Joey Logano made things easy on their teams by winning their respective heats without issue.
Busch will start from the pole in the Busch Light Clash.
“I think the biggest thing right now that I see is the guys behind us that are fast,” said Busch. “You got Reddick there. Obviously Logano winning that (last) heat. So, being able to create just a little bit of separation, but lap times are so tight, I don’t know how much seperate you’re really going to get. When you get into lap traffic and into the back of the field — which might happen fairly quickly — what are you going to do and how are you going to navigate that? How are you going to be able to make the passes and set those up before somebody sets you up? I don’t know. You’re going to have to take it as you get there. I don’t’ know that there’s necessarily a plan.”
Kyle Larson advanced into the Busch Light Clash by finishing in a transfer spot in his heat race. By doing so, the provisional for the highest driver from the 2021 point standings went to Martin Truex Jr., who was second in the standings. Truex took the provisional and elected not to run the Last Chance Qualifier race.
Locked into the Clash are: Kyle Busch, Daniel Suarez, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Blaney, Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe, Austin Dillon, Cole Custer, Justin Haley, William Byron, Christopher Bell, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Michael McDowell, Erik Jones, and Martin Truex Jr.
How it happened:
Kyle Busch started from the pole and led every lap on his way to winning the first heat race. Busch and Daniel Suarez quickly separated themselves from the field in the 25-lap event and easily transferred into the Busch Light Clash.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. started third and finished there to also advance. Stenhouse battled for a transfer spot with Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin. He and Blaney prevailed.
Hamlin ran third midway through the race but was passed by Stenhouse and then Blaney to fall to fifth. Hamlin, along with Ross Chastain, Todd Gilliland, Aric Almirola, and BJ McLeod were sent to the Last Chance Qualifier race.
Tyler Reddick led the field to the green flag and then quickly drove away. Behind Reddick, a frantic first lap saw Cole Custer fall from second to outside a transfer spot while Chase Briscoe rocketed from seventh to fourth.
Briscoe moved to second on lap 10 over Bubba Wallace. With five laps to go, Wallace lost the transfer spot to Custer.
Reddick led every lap and won the second heat race by a straightaway over Briscoe to advance into the Busch Light Clash. Finishing third to advance was Austin Dillon as Custer advanced from fourth.
Sent to the LCQ race was Wallace, Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr., Harrison Burton, and Brad Keselowski.
Justin Haley led the way in the third heat race from the pole. Haley cleared Chase Elliott and went unchallenged the rest of the way.
Elliott wound up stuck on the outside having started second and fell to fourth and the transfer spot. But the top four drivers drove away from the field and Elliott was never pressured for the spot.
Haley advanced into the Busch Light Clash with William Byron, Christopher Bell, and Elliott.
A.J. Allmendinger finished fifth and was sent to the LCQ race with Kevin Harvick, Chris Buescher, Cody Ware, and Corey LaJoie.
Joey Logano cleared Kyle Larson to take the early lead as Larson settled into second place. Michael McDowell held onto third while Landon Cassill was used up and went from fourth to on last after one lap.
Austin Cindric held the final transfer spot when the caution flew on lap seven for a slow Ty Dillon. Dillon pulled his Chevrolet into the infield with an apparent transmission issue.
The bumping and banging got started on the restart. As Logano held strong in the lead, Cindric, Erik Jones, Ryan Preece, and Kurt Busch went to battle for a transfer spot. Cindric ended up going for a spin on lap nine off the front bumper of Cassill, who was also hit from behind by Kurt Busch.
The lap 10 restart again saw Logano get the jump on the field as McDowell went to second over Larson. It didn’t last long as Larson quickly took the position back. Jones moved into the transfer spot at fourth place as Busch and Preece battled for fifth place.
Cindric made an impressive charge from the back of the field to almost get back onto a transfer position. Taking advantage of Busch and Jones battling, the Team Penske rookie drove back to finish fifth.
Logano led every lap and won the final heat race to advance into the Busch Light Clash. Larson, McDowell, and Jones also advanced.
Sent to the LCQ race was Cindric, Preece, Busch, Cassill, and Dillon.
UP NEXT: Busch Light Clash, 6:00 p.m. ET, FOX