NASCAR’s attempt at bringing in a new wave of fans looked to have worked when fans were still pouring in deep into the day before the green flag flew at the LA Coliseum.
Joey Logano took the win in front of Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon as he took the chequered flag having led the last 35 laps. Busch was closing in with five laps left but with two laps to go, he got wide in turn two and Logano cruised to the finish.
However, it was the pre-race antics of a Pitbull concert that immediately bought a new vibe to the pre-season exhibition event was exactly what NASCAR were looking for, even if fans hadn’t seen something like it at a race before.
An Ice Cube performance halfway through the race and DJ Skee spinning the records during the caution flags meant crowds were still entertained as the racing action died down.
The race itself would’ve pulled new fans in and for the reasons many might think. The new generation of cars is a pulling factor that’ll register everyone’s interest; intrigue into new technical parts and specs will have new and old fans on the edge of their seats but the close quarter-mile action meant exciting, bumper-to-bumper racing that fans can hope to see at other short tracks like Bristol and Martinsville later on in the year.
Logano taking the win was always on the cards after his strong showing in the heat session earlier in the day but it was Tyler Reddick who initially impressed the most having led the first 51 laps following his start on the front row. But a damaged transaxle meant his day was over, with Chase Briscoe in the 14 car also suffering the same problem on the same lap.
After pulling into the infield, Reddick gave his thoughts as to what the incident means for the upcoming Daytona 500.
“It’s quite scary when you have the big tracks like Daytona coming up and if revving the gas means the transaxle breaks like that, it’s going to be a bit worrying with all the pit stops we’re going to be making.”
After Reddick retired, Logano grabbed the lead and would tussle with Busch until Lap 116 where he would gain a slight lead before a caution flag came out for Kyle Larson cutting across Justin Haley and the latter going into the wall.
Logano carried his lead onto the chequered flag to take the win, after the race saying how he’s happy to see NASCAR branching out into other types of events.
“I can’t believe that we’re here at the LA Coliseum and we got the victory with the ol’ Shell Ford Mustang – just an amazing event. Congratulations NASCAR – it’s just a huge step in our industry to do this, to put on an amazing race for everybody.
“I’m out of breath. I’m so excited about this, it’s a big win. My wife’s having a baby tomorrow – our third one – so it’s a pretty big weekend for us.
“The guys working on the car did an amazing job finding speed when we were slow. We were 28th or so on the board yesterday and made some good changes, worked with our teammates, Ryan Blaney a lot. I owe a lot to him to see some of the gains that they made and ultimately get the win.”
Fans and journalists across social media gave their verdicts on the performances and many were positive.
Overall it was a success for the side of NASCAR and the side of the fans. Fans were treated to some good racing action and NASCAR will reap some of the benefits that come with those new fans as they try to keep them on board for the Daytona 500 in two Sunday’s time on February 20th. Despite the unorthodox performances and style of racing on display, a new generation of cars could introduce a new generation of fans for years to come.