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NASCAR: Justin Haley’s talent shines on fast night at Coliseum

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  • Pole winner Justin Haley, top right, is congratulated by Aric...

    Pole winner Justin Haley, top right, is congratulated by Aric Almirola, bottom left, following qualifying for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Driver Ty Gibbs climbs from his burning race car during...

    Driver Ty Gibbs climbs from his burning race car during practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Race cars circle the the quarter mile oval during practice...

    Race cars circle the the quarter mile oval during practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Drivers Kyle Larson, left, and Chase Elliott, right, speak to...

    Drivers Kyle Larson, left, and Chase Elliott, right, speak to the media prior to practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Driver Chase Elliott speaks to the media prior to practice...

    Driver Chase Elliott speaks to the media prior to practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Driver Bubba Wallace walks through the garage area prior to...

    Driver Bubba Wallace walks through the garage area prior to practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Driver Ty Gibbs climbs from his burning race car during...

    Driver Ty Gibbs climbs from his burning race car during practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Driver Ryan Blaney drives into turn 4 during practice for...

    Driver Ryan Blaney drives into turn 4 during practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Justin Haley, 31, Erik Jones, 43, and Tyler Reddick, 45,...

    Justin Haley, 31, Erik Jones, 43, and Tyler Reddick, 45, race through turn 2 during practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Drivers Kyle Larson, left, and Chase Elliott, right, speak to...

    Drivers Kyle Larson, left, and Chase Elliott, right, speak to the media prior to practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Race cars prepare to qualify for the NASCAR Busch Light...

    Race cars prepare to qualify for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Driver Kyle Busch prepares to climb out of his race...

    Driver Kyle Busch prepares to climb out of his race car following practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Auto Club Speedway President Dave Allen speaks to the media...

    Auto Club Speedway President Dave Allen speaks to the media during the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. Allen said the 2-mile track will be refigured to a half mile track and that there will not be a NASCAR race at the facility in 2024 due to construction. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Auto Club Speedway President Dave Allen speaks to the media...

    Auto Club Speedway President Dave Allen speaks to the media during the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. Allen said the 2-mile track will be refigured to a half mile track and that there will not be a NASCAR race at the facility in 2024 due to construction. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Auto Club Speedway President Dave Allen speaks to the media...

    Auto Club Speedway President Dave Allen speaks to the media during the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. Allen said the 2-mile track will be refigured to a half mile track and that there will not be a NASCAR race at the facility in 2024 due to construction. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Driver Martin Truex Jr. speaks with his crew prior to...

    Driver Martin Truex Jr. speaks with his crew prior to practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Ross Chastain, 1, and Corey LaJoie, 7, race down the...

    Ross Chastain, 1, and Corey LaJoie, 7, race down the back straightaway during practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Driver Kyle Larson speaks to the media prior to practice...

    Driver Kyle Larson speaks to the media prior to practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Race fans take part in the track walk prior to...

    Race fans take part in the track walk prior to practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Driver Kyle Busch, left, speaks with new teammate Austin Dillon...

    Driver Kyle Busch, left, speaks with new teammate Austin Dillon following practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • A tire technician secures tires to a flat bed truck...

    A tire technician secures tires to a flat bed truck prior to practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Driver Joey Logano, left, speaks with his crew as team...

    Driver Joey Logano, left, speaks with his crew as team owner Roger Penske listens following practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Brad Keselowski drives his race car back to the garage...

    Brad Keselowski drives his race car back to the garage area outside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum following practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • The crews of Kyle Busch (8) and Austin Dillon (3)...

    The crews of Kyle Busch (8) and Austin Dillon (3) prepare their racecars for practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Cars wait to qualify for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash...

    Cars wait to qualify for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Driver Austin Cindric sits in his race car following practice...

    Driver Austin Cindric sits in his race car following practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Driver Ty Gibbs climbs from his burning race car during...

    Driver Ty Gibbs climbs from his burning race car during practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Driver Kyle Busch speaks with his crew following practice for...

    Driver Kyle Busch speaks with his crew following practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Justin Haley, 31, and Joey Logano, 22, race through turn...

    Justin Haley, 31, and Joey Logano, 22, race through turn 2 during practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Kyle Larson (5) races around the specifically built quarter mile...

    Kyle Larson (5) races around the specifically built quarter mile race track during practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Cars race around the specifically built quarter mile track during...

    Cars race around the specifically built quarter mile track during practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

  • Team spotters sit at the top of the grandstands to...

    Team spotters sit at the top of the grandstands to watch practice for the NASCAR Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

LOS ANGELES — Speeds were up and tempers flared a bit on a short track Saturday night.

A.J. Allmendinger and Chance Briscoe did some bumping and banging during practice but Justin Haley ran the fastest lap during qualifying for NASCAR’s The Clash at the L.A. Coliseum.

“It’s a good position to be in and a good place to start the season,” said Haley after earning his first career NASCAR pole. “I wish I had this much talent at all the races.”

Haley, 23, ran the freshly-paved 0.25-mile oval in 13.41 seconds on his second of two qualifying laps to take the top spot heading into today’s heat races.

“It’s the one race a year where we seem to find the time and the talent,” said Haley, who finished 19th at the Coliseum last year. “This is a career-defining year for me so I’m trying to give it all I can.”

Four 25-lap heat races will determine the starting grid for The Clash, with the top 4 times from Saturday night earning respective pole positions.

The Top 5 from each heat race qualify for the main event, with the final spots determined by a ‘Last Chance Qualifier’ and 2022 series points.

Last year, Kyle Busch won the pole but failed to take the checkered flag and finished second. He was second fastest during qualifying on Saturday night with a 13.55-second lap and will start on the pole in Heat No. 2.

“Right off the truck we weren’t as fast as we wanted to be. We’d like to be higher on the sheet but we’ll have to see how it goes (today),” Busch said.

Christopher Bell was third (13.57) in qualifying and is on the pole for Heat No. 3, and William Byron (13.60) was fourth and will lead Heat No. 4.

The top 20 cars were separated by only one-tenth of a second during daytime practice but qualifying times varied by more than three-tenths of a second in the evening as the track cooled.

Allmendinger and Briscoe tangled on two different occasions during practice before Allmendinger pushed Briscoe into the wall on Turn 3.

“It’s been an interesting day. We know when we get it right the car is really fast,” Allmendinger said.

Added Briscoe: “There’s a lot more grip than we had last year. Everyone’s car is going to keep getting better and hopefully we can, too.”

Rookie Ty Gibbs ran one of the fastest laps in the first practice rounds but his No. 54 caught fire midway through his second practice run and he was forced to stop and escape while fire crews put out the in-car blaze.

Despite work to fix the damage, Gibbs’ car was not cleared by NASCAR to participate in the evening qualifying session after his team made repairs that were not approved.

“I feel like I need to give them a lot of effort (today),” Gibbs said. “We’re going to have to start last in one of those heat races. They did a lot of work before and after it caught fire, so we’ll see how it goes.”

Last year’s race winner, Joey Logano, struggled to find a line and qualified 17th with a 13.75 lap.

“The name of the game is how you get heat in the tires,” said Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Logano. “We’re trying to build off what we’ve learned last year.”

Todd Gilliland, son of Riverside native David Gilliland, ran a sub-14 second qualifying lap and will start seventh in Heat No. 3.

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