CONCORD, N.C. – Last year’s Clash at the Coliseum was a unique event. The NASCAR Cup Series raced inside the historic and legendary Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to kick off the Next Gen era. The sport will return to the venue for a second year with the exhibition race kicking off the 2023 season on Sunday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).
Kyle Larson took part in the groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday as work on the quarter-mile, asphalt track began. Paving will begin in early January and by the middle of the month all the SAFER barriers should be installed and painted, according to a NASCAR release.
PHOTOS: Larson at Clash groundbreaking in Los Angeles
The structure of last year’s inaugural running also saw a pre-race concert and halftime break that also featured entertainment. Hip hop group Cypress Hill will perform before the main event in 2023.
"I thought the event was amazing," Larson told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Thursday of the first year racing at the LA Coliseum. "I think NASCAR and everybody involved did a fantastic job of not only building the track and making it proper for racing but building the event and making it fun for the fans and something memorable. It was great to be part of that historic event in such a historic place. I am very happy that we are able to come back and put on another show that I am sure will be even better than the inaugural one was."
In last year’s 150-lap race, Larson finished fifth. As the reigning champion, he was guaranteed a spot in the field but heat races and two last-chance qualifier races set the rest of the 23-car field. The 30-year-old Elk Grove, California, native expects to see his competitors up on the wheel from the jump since there are no points on the line.
"I think the aggression will be the same as it was last year," Larson said. "I thought the aggression was extremely high, especially in the last chance race. It was pretty wild to watch.
"An exhibition race. No points on the line. An extremely short track. A place where you have to lay the bumper to somebody to at least get position on them. You’ll see all the same things happening again, if not more."
PHOTOS: Scenes from the 2022 Clash at the Coliseum
The inclusion of heat races in last year’s event also allowed Larson a different opportunity. The format for the 2023 edition has not been announced.
"What was unique about the race last year was we had those heat races," Larson explained. "I went up and watched the first one in the suite with some NASCAR folks and went and sat outside of it. I could really get a sense of the atmosphere and how cool it was. That was something I’ve never been able to do because with the races we run, typically you get in the car and you are in for three-and-a-half, four hours.
"This being more like a short-track, Saturday night event, I got the chance to go watch firsthand. It’s probably been close to 10 years since I’ve seen a Cup race in person (that I wasn’t running). Getting to see a heat race was pretty neat. Feeling the atmosphere and how excited everybody was. It is something I will never forget."