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Since NASCAR announced the Clash at the Coliseum last year, drivers and fans looked forward to the exhibition race to kick off the 2022 Cup Series season. The weekend’s worth of festivities on and off the track did not disappoint. By all accounts, NASCAR hit a home run.

While the Clash deservedly gets high marks, it wasn’t perfect. That was evident just minutes before the drop of the green flag when some of the biggest names in LA sports history were involved in the weekend’s biggest blunder.  

Clash at the Coliseum undeniably a smashing success

NASCAR built up the hype for the Clash at the Coliseum for months. During the week of the race, Fox’s NASCAR Race Hub broadcast live from inside the LA Coliseum, and it was during those shows fans could sense things were going well with the show co-hosts and guests raving about the track and its appearance. 

On Saturday, the first true test came during practice. And once again, the drivers had nothing but good things to say about the custom-built oval. That carried over into Sunday during the heat races and last chance qualifiers. The on-track action was exciting for teams and fans, with drivers identifying multiple lines and regularly making passes on the quarter-mile track.

After a wild second last chance qualifier, which included numerous cautions due to drivers making desperate moves to reach the main event, the stands began to fill. By the time the featured event started, the LA Coliseum had more than 50,000 fans in attendance. 

They witnessed an action-packed 150-lap race won by Joey Logano, including an entertaining intermission at the halfway point featuring a concert by Ice Cube.     

Clash at the Coliseum introduction of grand marshals goes haywire

While the Clash at the Coliseum will go down as one of the more memorable moments in NASCAR history, the first-time event did have a couple of snafus, including an embarrassing moment just before the start of the race. 

After returning from a commercial break, Fox’s Joe Buck announced it was time to meet the grand marshals for the event. First up, NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon

When Buck described Gordon’s career, the camera focused on the stage, where the four-time Cup Series champion was supposed to come out. It didn’t happen. Instead, Gordon could be seen standing in the shadows behind the stage with one of the other grand marshals, Matt Leinart.

As Buck continued with the introductions, it became evident there was a disconnect in the communication and timing of what was being aired on the broadcast and whoever was supposed to be directing the grand marshals on stage. 

After more than a minute, which included the introduction of Leinart and former MLB pitcher Jim Abbott and the camera showing different shots of the crowd and teams down on the track, Gordon finally appeared on stage with Leinart hurriedly following close behind. Abbott appeared moments later, followed by Eric Dickerson, which then finally aligned with the Buck’s description of the broadcast.   

Could return to LA or go somewhere else

Clash at the Coliseum starts
Clash at the Coliseum with Kyle Busch and Tyler Reddick pacing the field prior to the start of the race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on February 06, 2022. | Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

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While that prerace moment intended to recognize some of the biggest names in LA sports turned into confusion for both the grand marshals and those watching on TV, it was a minor miscue in the grand scheme of things. 

Overall, the weekend will be remembered for its entertainment value. That included a short-track qualifying format that saw some of the sport’s former champions miss the featured event and quality action throughout all the races on a track constructed in just over a month. 

NASCAR has a template moving forward if it opts to return to the Coliseum or take its show on the road to other venues in the U.S. or around the world. Whatever it decides to do, a priority should be placed on correcting the one notable blunder of the weekend and making sure those grand marshals, whoever they are, receive the proper recognition they deserve.

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