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In the ancient world, in nations far separated from us by time but not wholly different from our own, the coliseum was the site of many a spectacle that thrilled its spectators and glorified its combatants. And of the spectacles that coliseums around the ancient world held -- whether in Rome's Circus Maximus or the hippodromos of Greece -- chariot races were some of the most compelling. Even today, the artifacts of the past and the interpretations of historians tell us in the modern world that to race and to win in the coliseum was to move the spirits of the ancients and take a place in eternity.

Many centuries later, the modern world still has its coliseums. And as fate would have it, racing has found its way into them. For the third time, the NASCAR Cup Series season will hold its annual Busch Light Clash preseason exhibition race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, marking the third edition of the Clash at the Coliseum to preview 2024 and build anticipation for both the Daytona 500 and the season beyond it as stock car racing begins a new year.

All the hype and anticipation, however, is going to have to happen in a hurry. Due to the threat of extremely severe weather in the Los Angeles area on Saturday, NASCAR has opted to move the Clash from its originally-scheduled date of Feb. 4 to this Saturday, Feb. 3.

How to Watch the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum

Date: Saturday, Feb. 3
Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum -- Los Angeles, Calif.
Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: Fox
Stream: fubo (try for free)

Race Format

The field for the Busch Light Clash consists of all 36 chartered NASCAR Cup Series teams, whittled down to 23 cars for the main event through what was planned to be a two-day qualifying process. The plan was for the field to be split into three groups for practice on Saturday evening, with three sessions for each group, and each driver's fastest time from their final practice session would have been used to set the starting lineup for four heat races immediately following, setting the field through the four heat races plus a last chance qualifier.

Due to the sudden rescheduling from a two-day to one day show, NASCAR has cancelled the heat races and last chance qualifier, and will instead the field for the Clash will be set by the 22 fastest cars in practice plus a reserved 23rd spot for the driver who finished highest in last year's points standings who was not among those cars.

The main event will then be 150 laps with only green flag laps counted, and the race must finish under the green flag. There will also be a halftime break following lap 75.

Drivers to Watch

Each year's Clash marks the first opportunity for drivers who either changed seats, had notable crew changes, or moved to the Cup Series during the offseason to get their bearings ahead of the start of the season.

You can click here for a full breakdown of all driver and crew chief changes for 2024, but here's what you'll see specifically this weekend at The Clash:

  • Josh Berry is now the driver of the No. 4 for Stewart-Haas Racing, taking the seat vacated by the retirement of Kevin Harvick. Berry will compete for Rookie of the Year in Cup this year alongside Kaz Grala (No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford), Zane Smith (No. 71 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet), and Carson Hocevar (No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet).
  • Noah Gragson is the new driver of Stewart-Haas' No. 10, taking over for Aric Almirola. Gragson will be making his first start since last August when he left Legacy Motor Club during a month-long suspension for violating NASCAR's Code of Conduct on his Instagram account.
  • Daniel Suarez has a new crew chief for 2024, as Matt Swiderski moves over from Kaulig Racing to be the new crew chief of the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet. Previous No. 99 crew chief Travis Mack takes Swiderski's place as the crew chief for Kaulig Racing's No. 16 Chevrolet, which will be driven this week by Josh Williams.
  • Legacy Motor Club has switched from Chevrolet to Toyota. Erik Jones remains the driver of the No. 43, while John Hunter Nemechek has taken the seat of the No. 42.
  • Justin Haley has moved to Rick Ware Racing for 2024 and will be the new driver of the No. 51 Ford. Daniel Hemric takes Haley's place in the Kaulig Racing No. 31 Chevrolet he had driven since 2022.

Beyond the drivers, there will also be focus this weekend on the cars they're driving now and potentially could be racing in the future -- Ford and Toyota are both debuting new bodies for 2024, with Ford introducing the Mustang Dark Horse and Toyota bringing in the Camry XSE. But before the Clash, NASCAR will bring out a new electric-powered stock car it has been developing for a demonstration run. The electric car will take laps with veteran Cup driver David Ragan behind the wheel.

For the television audience and longtime fans, this weekend will also be the first race for Kevin Harvick in his new role as an analyst for Fox Sports. Harvick, who retired at the end of the 2023 season, will call all NASCAR races on Fox this season alongside play-by-play announcer Mike Joy and fellow analyst Clint Bowyer.

Pick to Win

Chase Elliott -- Since the Clash got moved to the L.A. Coliseum, it's become such a tough race to handicap given that the temporary quarter-mile track doesn't have many defining characteristics to give one driver an edge over the other. The track is built up and torn down each year, and races are often determined strictly by track position and who can best both work their way through traffic and then keep from getting the chrome horn put to them.

Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. having won the Clash before great seasons, though, suggests that the cream still rises to the top here. And I guess I'm falling for a good narrative, but I get the sense that Chase Elliott and his team are going to capitalize on the opportunity to put a lost year in 2023 behind them and get 2024 started on the right foot with the first checkered flag of the year.