Truex draws first blood of 2023 in Clash practice at LA Coliseum

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Truex draws first blood of 2023 in Clash practice at LA Coliseum


Truex draws first blood of 2023 in Clash practice at LA Coliseum


Martin Truex Jr. and his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing team earned a bit of redemption Saturday at the L.A. Coliseum with a turnaround on the speed chart from a year ago.

Truex struggled at the inaugural Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum but was the fastest overall driver in practice to begin this weekend. Truex ran 67.36mph (13.361s) to lead the way over Toyota teammate Bubba Wallace. Wallace clocked in at 67.310mph.

“(It was) just a great job by my guys on this Bass Pro Shops Club Toyota Camry,” Truex said. “Last year, it was a new car here, and we really had no idea, and it was really hard with short practices and a new track to figure out. But the guys really did their homework, and it’s been really good so far. We haven’t touched a thing.

“Qualifying is obviously going to be really important; track position is important, so hopefully it’ll qualify well. It was really, really good in race trim.”

Chase Briscoe was third fastest at 67.250mph, and Alex Bowman was fourth fastest at 67.214mph. Ryan Blaney completed the top five at 67.214mph.

The 36-driver field was split into three groups for practice. Each group was given three sessions on track at eight minutes each.

Briscoe had an eventful moment in his final session on track. Racing in close quarters with AJ Allmendinger off Turn 2, Briscoe made the pass, but Allmendinger ran into the back of Briscoe into the next set of corners and sent Briscoe up the track, tagging the outside wall.

Ty Gibbs was sixth fastest at 67.194mph, and Ross Chastain was seventh at 67.174mph, Denny Hamlin eighth at 67.149mph, Todd Gilliland ninth at 67.129mph, and Justin Haley was 10th on the speed chart at 67.124mph.

Practice came to an unfortunate early end for Gibbs. In his second session on track, Gibbs’s No. 54 Toyota went up in smoke as flames erupted inside the cockpit on the right side of the car. Gibbs made a quick exit unhurt.

He was unsure what led to the fire, however the team quickly went to work to find the problem and said they wouldn’t need a backup car.

“We have a very fast Monster Energy Camry TRD,” Gibbs said. “I’m very excited to be out here in L.A. It’s really cool. The track is really cool, and I feel like we have a lot of speed. It definitely sucks to catch on fire, but that’s part of it.

“I just want to say, ‘Thank you,’ to Monster (Energy) and everybody that’s been a part of this thing. We’re going to go see what we can do.”

Defending race winner Joey Logano was 21st fastest. Logano spun during his final session on track but didn’t hit anything.

Last year, Chase Elliott was the fastest driver in Clash practice at 13.45s. Saturday, five drivers had eclipsed that time after their first run on the track.

Aside from adding mufflers, the aero package is the same on the cars for this year’s race.

Tyler Reddick, who was 17th fastest on the chart, ran the most laps in practice (117).

Wallace was quickest in the best 10 consecutive lap average over Briscoe, Truex, Blaney and Gilliland.