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      Axalta’s RaptorTough.com scheme to shine as NASCAR returns to the track for Clash at the Coliseum

      © Axalta Coating Systems / Barry Cantrell

      Clash at The Coliseum
      Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
      Sunday, Feb. 5 | 8 p.m. ET

      2022 IN THE REARVIEW: Embarking on his sixth season in the NASCAR Cup Series, William Byron is coming off a career-best finish to the year at the highest level of competition. Starting off 2022 strong, Byron collected two wins early on. His first victory came at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March and he won three weeks later at Martinsville Speedway for his first multi-win Cup Series season. Locking himself in the Cup Series playoffs for the fourth consecutive time, Byron fought his way to the Round of 8 for the first time in the Cup Series, finishing a career-best sixth in the points standings. He ended 2022 with two wins, one pole award, five top-five finishes, 11 top 10s, and 746 laps led – the third-most laps led among drivers.

      COMING FOR THE CLASH: With the 2023 season kicking off with the Clash at the Coliseum, this will be the second year that the exhibition race will be held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Byron’s last three Clash races have each occurred at different venues (Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Road Course and the LA Coliseum). In last year’s event in LA, Byron started seventh and despite racing his way within the top-five running order, ultimately finished the exhibition race in sixth. He was one of four drivers to race all 150 laps within the top 10, including running 89 of the 150 circuits in the top five.

      STADIUM STYLE: While the historic California venue is only in its second year on the Cup Series circuit, it closely resembles Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston Salem, North Carolina. In 2015, Byron competed at Bowman Gray with what is known now as the ARCA Menards Series East. In that race, he started fourth and finished in the 15th position.

      RUDY, RUDY, RUDY: Making strides in only his second Cup Series season, crew chief Rudy Fugle collected two wins with Byron and the No. 24 team in 2022. Continuing to learn about the Next Gen car, Fugle and his driver firmly locked themselves into the playoffs, reaching the Round of 8. The Livonia, New York, native is looking to build off his second season at the Cup level with the goal of propelling the No. 24 to a Championship 4 berth.

      RAPTOR® TOUGH: RAPTOR® Tough and Tintable Protective Coatings will return in 2023 as the primary sponsor of William Byron and the No. 24 team. RAPTOR® is a durable protective coating from Axalta that is designed to tolerate the toughest climatic conditions and can be applied to a wide range of items, including truck beds, lawnmowers, outdoor furniture and more. With 16 pre-mixed colors available, it’s easy to personalize anything you want to protect. RAPTOR® is available at local paint distributors, auto parts stores, and online retailers. 

      BYRON ON STARTING THE SEASON: “I’m excited to get out to Los Angeles. I’m just really ready to get the season started. We have our goals set to accomplish this year and the team has been preparing for the season to get back underway. While the Clash isn’t a points-paying race, it is a good way to get momentum going and really shake the dust off before the season ramps up in Daytona. The goal still remains to win every time we’re on track and show what we’ve learned.”

      FUGLE TALKS RETURNING TO LA COLISEUM: “Last year’s Clash really had a lot of aspects we had never done before – the Next Gen car, the track location, logistics in general. It all worked out, but I think we’re better prepared for even the little details this year. We’ve come so far with the car setup-wise from race one to the season finale. What we learned at last year’s Clash with the car is vastly different to what it will be this year. I’m really excited to go try those new things out though and see what may arise.”

      © Axalta Coating Systems / Scott K. Brown Photography


      CLOSING IN ON 300: Entering the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, Hendrick Motorsports is nine points-paying victories away from 300 in the sport’s top series. Twenty drivers have combined to reach the organization’s current total of 291 wins, which is the most in the sport by any one team.

      YEAR IN REVIEW: In 2022, Hendrick Motorsports notched a series-best 11 wins with Chase Elliott leading all Cup Series drivers with five victories and earning the regular-season championship. Kyle Larson and William Byron each posted multi-win campaigns. Alex Bowman earned a win for the fourth consecutive season. All four drivers made the playoffs and reached the Round of 12 with Elliott making the Championship 4 for the third consecutive season. The No. 5 HendrickCars.com team reached the owner’s Championship 4 for the second straight season. The organization’s 11 wins marked the ninth time that the team had won at least 11 races in a single season.

      FORMAT FOCUS: The Clash at the Coliseum will see Saturday night’s single-car qualifying determine the starting order for Sunday’s four heat races of 25 laps. The top-five finishers in each heat race will advance to the main event with the winner of the first heat on the pole. Two last chance qualifiers of 50 laps each will be held among the drivers that have not raced into the field. The top-three finishers from those two races will advance to the main event. The 27th and final spot in the field will go to the highest driver from the 2022 driver point standings that is not yet locked into the 150-lap main event. In the heat races, LCQs and main event, only green flag laps will count.

      IT NEVER RAINS IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: However, in the event that it does, teams will be able to use wet-weather equipment in the Clash. The LA Coliseum is one of six Cup Series ovals (Martinsville Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway, Phoenix Raceway and Richmond Raceway) that will see this as an option. The sanctioning body’s intent is to use it in mild conditions to speed up the resumption of racing following a rain delay.

      LA REWIND: In last year’s first race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Hendrick Motorsports placed two cars in the top six of the final running order. Larson finished an organization-best fifth, while Byron came home sixth in the event.

      CAPTURING THE CLASH: Hendrick Motorsports’ seven wins in the Clash are the third-most among all teams. All of their victories came at Daytona International Speedway, which was the home of the Clash from 1979 to 2020. The track’s road course hosted the 2021 edition of the Clash. Ken Schrader (1989 and 1990), Jeff Gordon (1994 and 1997) and Jimmie Johnson (2005 and 2019) each won the event twice, while Dale Earnhardt Jr. scored a win in 2008.

      SAVORING THE SPECIAL: The Rick Hendrick-owned organization has recorded a series-best 37 wins in special events. The team’s win totals in the Daytona Duel qualifiers (16), NASCAR All-Star Race (10) and All-Star Open (four) are the most or tied for the most among all teams. Larson has four wins in such events with one coming with Hendrick Motorsports in the 2021 All-Star Race. Elliott has three wins in those events (2017 and 2018 Duels and the 2020 All-Star Race), while Byron has one victory (2020 Duels).

      Via Hendrick Motorsports