If you’re thumbing through the DVR guide Sunday, looking for the Auto Club 500, you’d better replace that 5 with a 4. The Auto Club race in Fontana, CA is now 400 miles. Last February, perennial winner Jimmie Johnson held off Kevin Harvick for a victory in what would be the last 500 mile race at the track.
For comparison, The Pepsi Max 400 in October was chopped to 400 miles and the reviews were excellent. Clint Bowyer said “They say you’re only as good as your last race. Well, for this place, that was a hell of a race.” Not sure what the “for this place” part meant but his comment was indicative of responses across the board.
Bowyer was edged by winner Tony Stewart at the finish line by less that half a second. Stewart seemed to like the race too. ”The restarts early in the race were out of control. We were five wide!”
MRN, which broadcasted the race, said ”Simply put, (the Pepsi Max 400) was the best Sprint Cup Series race ever at the two-mile Southern California track.” It certainly was the best finish.
And not only did the excitement improve things at Fontana…the engines seemed to hold up better than usual. Long green flag runs at a high RPM rate are not good and taking a hundred miles off helped. One crew chief commented: “Shortening this race will kind of even things out engine wise as it compares to everywhere else that we race. I think it’s a good thing for everyone.”
This will be Auto Club Speedway’s only NASCAR race this year after hosting two in previous years. And I just bet shorter will be better.