By admin | March 26, 2013
By Richard Allen
Last week, it probably came as little surprise that fans enjoyed what they saw from NASCAR’s Sprint Cup division on the high banks of the Bristol Motor Speedway. ThatÂ event received the highest grades of the season to that pointÂ in my poll question that asks followers to grade the just concluded race posed each week on Twitter and Facebook.
However, it has to be regarded as somewhat of a surprise this week to see that fans have given exceedingly high marks to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. This is a track so often reviled by fans that it had one date taken away from it due to poor attendance.
All that became a memory on Sunday as drivers swapped positions throughout the day, crews used differing pit strategies and controversy reigned on pit road following the event. As a result, for the second week in a row NASCAR has received a report card that anyone would be proud to claim afterÂ getting off to a poor start to the season in the first three weeks.
There were fewer grades given this week than any other expect for the Las Vegas race asÂ 41 followers cast a post-race vote. I believe the low turnout may be due in part to the fact that fans, rightfully so, were more concerned with the condition of injured driver Denny Hamlin than they were aboutÂ grading the race. Also, the three lowest vote totals to date have come fromÂ the three races held in the western section of the country. So, the later hour may haveÂ played a role as well.
In all, 29 fans ratedÂ the Auto Club 400 as an ‘A’ race. This is the second highest number ofÂ A’s given this season, only behind Bristol’s total of 39. However, this race received a higher percentage of top gradesÂ when it is considered that onlyÂ 12 participants in the poll did not rate theÂ event as an ‘A’.
Prior to last Sunday, only seven A’s had been given in the three previous races combined.
A number of respondents offered pluses and minuses to their grades with several saying the race would have received an ‘A+’ had it not been for Hamlin’s injury.
Ten people gave the race a ‘B’ grade. This is remarkable in that prior to last week in Bristol, no other race had received a higher percentage of ‘A’ and ‘B’ marks than the scores representing average and below average.
There were only two who scored the race as a ‘C’. There were no grades of ‘D’ or ‘F’.
According to this small sample size, the product on the track is improving. Or at least NASCAR has pieced together two consecutive weeks of good grades, and thatÂ seems to be encoraging.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take the upcoming Easter weekend off then visit the half-mile paper clip in Martinsville, Virginia next. With so many rivalries building, it might be a good bet that the sport could see three consecutive races with high grades.
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