Dr. Diandra: Five races to remember at Auto Club Speedway Rain — and snow! — postpone Xfinity race at Auto Club Speedway Saturday Auto Club Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather Sunday Cup race at Auto Club Speedway: Start time, TV info, weather Rain cancels Cup, Xfinity practice, qualifying at Auto Club Speedway
NASCAR visits two-mile version of Auto Club Speedway Last time this weekend. Let’s say goodbye as we recall five races that illustrate the course’s transformation from boring to beloved.
1997: First race
California Speedway, as the track was originally called, was one of four tracks that debuted in the late 1990s. Unlike the new tracks in Texas, Las Vegas And manorThe D-shaped California track was two miles long with a 14-degree bank on corners.
The NASCAR Cup Series has not been held in Southern California since Riverside International Speedway closed in 1988. By race weekend Californian Jeff Gordon had already collected six checkered flags in 14 races.
The first race featured long green flag runs (averaging 45.6 laps) and 21 lead changes. Gordon led 113 of 250 laps.outpacing eventual runners-up and third-place finishers Dale Jarrett and Terry Labonte.
The 250 lap (500 mile) race ran for three hours and 13 minutes, just 10 minutes longer than the 2022 400 mile race.
2004: Gordon’s victory highlighted the issue
Completely new tracks are interesting because they are new, but they rarely contribute to good races. The new asphalt offers limited race tracks and makes it harder to overtake. When a driver was in the lead at the California Speedway, he usually held it for a while.
In six of the previous seven races, one driver led 100 or more laps out of 250. The exception was 2001, when Rusty Wallace led just 95 laps.
MORE: Ricky Stenhouse Jr reflects on his road to Daytona 500 victory
In 2004, Gordon completed 81 laps on his way to victory. But, like Wallace three years earlier, he led the last 47 laps. It was the fourth of eight races without a lead change in the last 40 laps.
The closest thing to a late lead was Gordon’s first win on the track. He led the last 11 laps.
But Gordon didn’t just win the race. His 12.87-second lead from victory is the longest in Cup history at the circuit.
2011: First last lap pass for victory
The aging asphalt at what was now the Auto Club Speedway helped the races. Passes for the lead occurred towards the end of the race: two laps away from the checkered flag in 2006, usually 10 to 25 laps.
But attendance is declining and heat problems plagued racing. In 2010, the race was shortened from 500 miles to 400. In 2011, Auto Club Speedway returned to one race per year.
Another native of California Kevin Harvickwon the only race in 2011, driving on the last lap Kyle Bush. Harvick led for one lap of the race. Since multi-day racing had not yet been invented, only one lap mattered.
Three of the next four races also used last lap passes, as shown in the graph below.
2018: Martin Truex Jr. finds the ideal set of rules – for him
As shown in the chart below, the winning margin has been declining over the years. With the exception of races that ended cautiously, six of the seven races between 2010 and 2017 were less than one second away from victory.
NASCAR changed the rule packs as it looked for the best way to design the next generation car. In 2018, reigning Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr. ran for a team that was closing at the end of the year. The new package suited Truex, who won the pole position and both stages. He led 125 of the race’s 200 laps and won the race by 11.685 seconds, the second-longest win margin on the track.
2022: First Next Gen race
The first Next Gen race at Auto Club Speedway was the third Next Gen race in history. The numbers show it.
The 2022 race equaled 2008 in terms of warnings with 12. But the 2022 race had the same number of warnings crammed into 400 miles as the 2008 race had over 500 miles. This race also set the record for most warning laps, with 59 out of 400 or 14.75% of the race.
In previous years, 20 to 25 riders could work per season. However, there were five spins in this race. Chase Elliott, which spun four times in all of 2022, spun twice in the race. (Elliott helped out a bit on the second spin). Between training and racing Ross Chastain crashed two cars. Kyle Larson won the race.
But Auto Club Speedway had improved so much that most riders were against changing tracks. The recent sale to NASCAR of much of the land surrounding the race track leaves NASCAR racing in Southern California in doubt.
Teams have an additional year of experience in the Next Gen car. This weekend’s race should show us if it’s difficult to drive a new car on this type of track, or if drivers just need a little time to learn a new car. This, in turn, could have huge implications for car parity.
Scheduled for Saturday, the Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway was rescheduled for Sunday due to rainy weather.
The race was rescheduled to 8:00 pm ET (FS2, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) on the Sunday after the Cup Series race at ACS.
It rained down the track most of the day. Snow, a rarity in the area and part of a massive winter storm that hit California, fell for a while.
But NASCAR dried up the track and tried to start the race at around 6:00 pm ET. The drivers made several circles, but the rain intensified, forcing the cars out of the pit before the green flag could unfold.
After about an hour of waiting – and a very long day for the drivers and teams on the track – NASCAR has postponed the race.
MORE: Auto Club Xfinity Starting Lineup
MORE: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. reflects on the road to Daytona 500 victory
The weather canceled Saturday’s scheduled Xfinity qualifying session and the 38-car starting grid was set in line with rulebook performance. Austin Hillwinner of the first round of the Xfinity Series last week at Daytona International Speedway, starts from pole.
*Snow has entered the chat* pic.twitter.com/BceuCuRXV2
— RCR (@RCRracing) February 25, 2023
The second race of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at Auto Club Speedway.
Rein canceled practice and qualifying on Saturday, placing Austin Hill on a pole. Hill won the first Xfinity event last week at Daytona International Speedway and will be one of the favorites for the ACS.
Garret Smithley And Ryan Vargas failed to make field.
Racers of the three cups – Austin Dillon, Ross Chastain And Tyler Reddick – are part of the Xfinity line.
The start of the 300 mile race is scheduled for 17:00 ET (FS1).
Details of Saturday’s Xfinity Race at Auto Club Speedway
(All time Eastern)
START OFF: The command to start the engines will be given at 17:08 … The green flag should be raised at 17:17.
PRERACE: Qualifying and training canceled due to rain. … The introduction of the drivers is scheduled for 16:30 … David Castro will say a prayer at 17:00 … The national anthem is scheduled for 17:01.
DISTANCE: The race is 150 laps (300 miles) over a 2-mile track.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends on the 35th lap. Stage 2 ends on lap 70.
STARTING LINE-UP: Auto Club Xfinity starting lineup
TV/RADIO: FS1 will be broadcasting the race at 4:00 pm… The Motor Racing Network broadcast will start at 4:30 pm and will also be streamed on mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will broadcast MRN.
FORECAST: Cloudy with occasional rain. Max 43. 100% chance of rain.
LAST TIME: Cole Custer won at ACS in February 2022. Noah Gragson was second and Trevor Bain third.