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A tale of two races: Great Nationwide race and lifeless Sprint Cup in Fontana

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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6 Responses to “A tale of two races: Great Nationwide race and lifeless Sprint Cup in Fontana”

  1. Offkilter Says:
    March 25th, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    The nationwide race was pretty descent considering the track. I was disappointed with the cup race though. Where the hell were our mystery “debris” cautions?

  2. Tony Geinzer Says:
    March 26th, 2012 at 7:51 am

    I really feel with Southern California, I am beyond welcoming of someone buying Irwindale to have a permenant home for Sprint Cup. But, I am beyond ready for a 2nd Chicagoland Date so they’d alwayd be in the Summer.

  3. Sue Rarick Says:
    March 26th, 2012 at 8:04 am

    Even Mother Nature got bored with the Sprint Cup race.

  4. Offkilter Says:
    March 26th, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Sue, that funny. Whats more funny is she waited until somebody was leading other than kyle busch.

  5. Jeff Says:
    March 26th, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    To heck with mystery debris cautions or most all debris cautions. I have been to every race here at Cali since 2002. Also went in 2000, but not 1997-1999 and 2001. Real racing isn’t debris cautions. I am glad the race stayed clean and green until the rains came. Had they not come, you know a caution was coming soon, for something/anything. Had this been a race with no chance for rain, then no way we get 125 laps caution-free to start the race. I will not say that Sunday’s race was scintillating in any way, shape or form, but it was the most fairly officiated race in many many a years. I love NASCAR racing no matter what, even if they over officiate most races with more cautions than need be. Just my take……..Jeff

  6. Russ Says:
    March 27th, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Imagine how the average Nascar race would look today if it were not for the “Lucky Dog” and wave arounds?