By admin | March 25, 2012
By Richard Allen
It was the best of racing. It was the…well, not best of racing. That describes the two NASCAR events held at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California over this past weekend. Saturday’s Nationwide Series race had about as much action as could be contained within 300 miles on a low banked two-mile track while Sunday’s Sprint Cup race had every bit the look of a group of drivers making sure they would get to halfway before the inevitable rains set in.
The Royal Purple 300 featured two and three wide racing throughout the field, including for the lead, for much of the day. Young Nationwide ‘regulars’ like Trevor Bayne, Austin Dillon, Justin Allgaier and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., among a number of others, fought with Sprint Cup ‘invaders’ such as eventual winner Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch in a very entertaining and often intense contest.
Four cautions were just enough to keep the racing close and provide opportunities for crews to adjust on their cars. There were fifteen lead changes among seven different drivers in the fast paced affair.
It seemed to be a perfect setup for Sunday’s main event on a track that has aged to the point that it has enough ‘character’ to provide good racing as cars bump and slip on its tricky surface.
However, the looming threat of rain seemed to put a damper on the action in what was supposed to be a 400 mile Sprint Cup race even before the precipitation began to fall. It looked from the very outset as if drivers had made a conscious decision to get to the all important halfway mark before the race could be rained out and ultimately rescheduled for the next clear day.
Getting to the halfway mark makes NASCAR races official should they be interrupted after that point.
No one seemed terribly willing to take any chances that might cause a caution and slow the pace, which might in turn give the weather time to set in before 200 miles could be completed.
Although eventual winner Tony Stewart did make a strong charge up through the top-10 from his 9th place starting spot, the race featured very little on track intensity. There were nine lead changes among five drivers but several of those exchanges took place during the cycling of green flag pit stops.
Stewart and Kyle Busch led a combined 122 of the races rain shortened 129 laps. There were no caution periods prior to lap 125 when rain drops began to fall.
The weekend in Fontana got off to a tremendous start on Saturday, but unfortunately, ended on a somewhat stale note on Sunday. While the track’s surface may be in prime condition to provide for good racing, the pending weather did the embattled speedway no favors in its one shot this year to put on a great Sprint Cup show.
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