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Fans Deliver High Grades for the Racing at Auto Club Speedway

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. That event received the highest grades of the season to that point 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 after 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 as 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 about grading the race. Also, the three lowest vote totals to date have come from the three races held in the western section of the country. So, the later hour may have played a role as well.

In all, 29 fans rated the Auto Club 400 as an ‘A’ race. This is the second highest number of A’s given this season, only behind Bristol’s total of 39. However, this race received a higher percentage of top grades when it is considered that only 12 participants in the poll did not rate the 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 that 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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8 Responses to “Fans Deliver High Grades for the Racing at Auto Club Speedway”

  1. midasmicah Says:
    March 27th, 2013 at 9:12 am

    This was the best race I’ve ever seen at California, and I’ve watched all of them, including one in person. Sorry about Hamlin, but the lack of a SAFER barrier where he wrecked has to put on nascar. If there’s an unprotected area on a track, a driver will find it. There’s no excuse for one not being where Hamlin wrecked.

  2. Bill B Says:
    March 27th, 2013 at 10:25 am

    I would read into the numbers as follows:

    Fewer people responded with a grade for the race because many of the usual participants didn’t watch the race due to low expectations.

    More people graded the race highly because they grade, intentionally or subconsciously, on a curve. The expectations were low for California. This race exceeded those expectations by far so people graded it highly.

    NASCAR and fans got lucky. Any track has the possibility of producing a compelling race however the probability is lower at some tracks than others. They could race at California for the next 5 weeks and never get a race that interesting. In fact, I’d bet at least 4 of the 5 would receive average grades of C or less.

  3. Bill B Says:
    March 27th, 2013 at 10:27 am

    BTW, for CALIFORNIA, I’d give the race an A. I was majorly surprised with the race.

  4. GinaV24 Says:
    March 27th, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I normally don’t watch this race because it usually isn’t worth the time. I was half watching it for the beginning of the race and it seemed pretty typical with cars spread out 2 seconds apart. However, the racing seemed to be better as the day progressed and certainly the end (with the exception of Hamlin being injured) was fun to watch.

    I’m sorry that he was hurt and I agree with midasmicah that the blame is completely on NASCAR/ISC for not having SAFER barriers on the walls - everywhere. There has been plenty of time to complete this task and there has been ample evidence of how well they perform in preventing more serious injuries.

  5. RC Says:
    March 27th, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Tony owns the way and we are all in it.

  6. Tony Geinzer Says:
    March 27th, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    I wonder if NASCAR is in a race to sell Fontana? I feel that not all publicity is good and selling Fontana is best because it is a bad joke of a venue.

  7. Tyler West Says:
    March 27th, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    The state of California sucks!! But the race was great! And it’s about damn time. Why in the world are there still areas on tracks where the safer barriers are not being used? I don’t get that.

  8. RacingFan Says:
    March 28th, 2013 at 1:22 am

    Most tracks start to put on good races when the track surface ages and gets bumpy. Then they repave it and we are in for a decade of dull racing.
    My favorite races to watch were the Darlington races when the track was rough, the sand storms had embedded sharp sand into the track shortening tire life, and the cars were sliding and moving around continually.
    The California race wasn’t up that level, but was good. It reminded me more of racing at Michigan back in the 70s and 80s when racing was still very good at the 1.5 to 2 mile tracks (before aerodynamics and engineers ruined it). A way to take some of the control out of the hands of engineers [boring] and put it back in the driver’s and crew chief’s hands is to have rough tracks.