NASCAR moves season-opening Clash to Saturday night because of weather forecast

Heavy rain is forecast for Los Angeles on Sunday, which may result in flooding and other issues

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 02: A general view of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum during previews for the NASCAR Cup Series Busch Light Clash at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on February 02, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)
NASCAR's season-opening exhibition race has been moved up a day. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

NASCAR’s season-opening exhibition race is being moved up a day.

The sanctioning body announced Saturday afternoon that Sunday night’s Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum would be run on Saturday night. Rain is expected in the Los Angeles area all day Sunday and Monday, making it a near-certainty that NASCAR wouldn’t be able to run the race until Tuesday if it wasn’t moved up.

The race will begin at 8 p.m. ET and air on FS 1.

“Due to the threat of unprecedented severe weather on Sunday, the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Mexico Series race events for the Clash have been moved to Saturday night," NASCAR said in a statement. "Thanks to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and Los Angeles Public Safety for their partnership and support to make the schedule adjustment for tonight’s event to ensure a safe experience for fans, competitors, and staff. We understand weather conditions may worsen as the day progresses, so we encourage fans to make decisions in the best interest of safety. We appreciate our fans, partners, and everyone associated with this event on this unprecedented event.”

The NASCAR Mexico Series race was originally scheduled on Saturday and coupled with practice and heat races for the Clash.

This is the third year NASCAR has held the Clash at a temporary quarter-mile track built inside the Los Angeles Coliseum. The race was moved to the first Sunday of February when it was scheduled for 2022 as part of an effort to draw casual interest from non-NASCAR fans in the weekend preceding the Super Bowl.

Forty drivers are entered in the Clash and 23 will participate in the main race on Saturday night. Because the main race was moved to Saturday, the heat races have been canceled and the field will be set based on speeds from a practice and qualifying session. The top 22 drivers in practice will be in the main event and the final spot is reserved for the driver highest in the 2023 points standings who isn't among that top 22.

The original schedule included four 10-car heat races with the top five cars from each heat race transferring to the main event. The top two from a fifth heat race featuring the remaining 20 cars would have also advanced to the main event with the final spot going to the driver highest in points on the outside looking in.

Joey Logano won the Clash in 2022 and Martin Truex Jr. won it in 2023. The 2024 Cup Series season officially begins on Feb. 18 with the Daytona 500.