Just one driver is already locked into the Busch Light Clash, the unofficial 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season-opening exhibition race.
For the first time ever, the NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Busch Light Clash exhibition race is scheduled to take place outside of Daytona International Speedway.
For 42 straight years, the race was contested at the Daytona Beach, Florida track’s four-turn, 2.5-mile (4,023-kilometer) high-banked oval. But last year, it was moved to the 14-turn, 3.61-mile (5,810-kilometer) interior road course.
But that lasted just one year, and the race is now set to be contested at a purpose-built quarter-mile oval inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the home of the USC Trojans.
With the change in location, NASCAR has introduced a new qualifying format.
There are 36 cars on the entry list for this Sunday night’s race at the Los Angeles, California stadium, but only 23 are set to lock into the main event.
All 36 cars are set to make a qualifying run in a single-car qualifying session on Saturday, February 5 (8:30 pm ET, Fox Sports 1). The speeds from this session will determine the starting lineups for the four Sunday heat races (3:00 pm ET, Fox).
The top four drivers from each of these four races are set to lock into the main event (16 total). The remaining 20 drivers will compete in one of the two last chance qualifying races (4:10 pm ET, Fox). The top three drivers from each of these two races are also set to lock in (six total), bringing the field size to 22.
So how does the 23rd driver come into play?
The 23rd driver is the driver who, among those not already locked in, finished highest in the 2021 championship standings.
As a result, 2021 champion Kyle Larson is locked into the field no matter what else happens.
If he locks in as one of the top 22, he is obviously in. But if not, he can “fall back” on his 2021 championship and find himself in the field anyway, since nobody finished higher than he did on points last year.
For a full rundown on the new format, click here.
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