Race Weekend Central

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2009 Auto Club 500 at Fontana

Who… gets my shoutout of the race?

How about California native Jeff Gordon, who showed that he hasn’t lost a step despite going winless in 2008? Gordon was a presence at the front all night long and drove it like he’d stolen it in the closing laps. The tires gave out before the driver gave up, and Gordon served notice that he will not be easy to beat in 2009.

What… was up with Kyle Busch being “excused” from the Nationwide Series drivers’ meeting?

Sure, he was running the Truck race and Sprint Cup practice. Joey Logano was running the ARCA race at Daytona, too, but he was sent to the back of the Shootout field for missing the drivers’ meeting. This week, all of the drivers who missed the meeting for practice were suddenly “excused” from the drivers’ meeting. Should NASCAR consider changing race meetings to accommodate those drivers pulling extra duty? Maybe? Should they excuse them all every week?

Perhaps, though I’m more inclined to move the meeting. And if this is a new rule, it should have been made a week ago, not after the season has started. Because right now, it looked an awful lot like NASCAR pulling strings for a media darling.

Where… did the polesitter wind up?

After being forced to start at the back due to an engine change, Brian Vickers proved his mettle, driving through the field to finish a solid and respectable 10th. It looks as though Team Red Bull is looking to crash the party and be another Toyota top dog along with the Joe Gibbs Racing organization.

When… will I be loved?

The drivers were so well-behaved that the villain of the week award can go to nobody other than Auto Club Speedway for producing a mind-numbingly boring race. Again.

See also
What's Vexing Vito: NASCAR Through the Looking Glass - A Schedule in Dire Need of Review

Why… did this race start at 6:30 p.m. Eastern on a Sunday?

I have no idea, but the start times of races are just ridiculous. If NASCAR wants a night race, run it on Saturday. Otherwise, Sunday races just simply need to start earlier. Some of us have to work on Monday, even if Brian and Co. can take the day off. I said last week, and will say again-races need to start at 1 p.m. local, every week. If NASCAR wants a day-night or night race, run them on Saturday. Stop pandering to one market at the expense of several others.

How… come this track has two races, anyway?

When NASCAR stole a race date from Darlington Raceway and awarded a second date to ACS, the explanation was that Darlington wasn’t selling out two races. Excuse me? ACS hasn’t sold out two races since they got the second one. So on what planet does the track deserve a second race? If NASCAR wants to keep the race on the west coast, give it to Las Vegas; better racing, more fan friendly and above all, the track sells seats.

It should be a no-brainer. Fontana can’t sell seats, and the racing is almost as exciting as watching cement set. At least Darlington had good races. This track gives new meaning to “California Dreaming.” It’s what fans watching at home do for half the race.

About the author

Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via