During an interview about schedule shakeups, Steve O’Donnell was asked if NASCAR’s lack of commitment to Auto Club Speedway was a harbinger of doubt for the Fontana track’s future on the Cup Series schedule. His response sent fans into a frenzy of speculation: “It’s fair to say we’re evaluating the [L.A.] market as a whole.”
What you need to know:
- O’Donnell and NASCAR have been especially non-committal when talking about Auto Club Speedway’s future with the Cup Series.
- Auto Club is set to be reconfigured from the current 2-mile speedway into a short track following its February 26 race weekend.
- The controversial track has hosted a NASCAR race every year since 1997 with extremely polarized fan responses.
In addition to O’Donnell’s comments to Adam Stern, Dave Allen, president of the Speedway told NBC “that “it’s possible” that the track might not host a NASCAR race in 2025 because of how long it could take to make the conversion.” Allen continued, “It has to make a statement, and making sure that we have a racetrack that is unique to itself here and different than any of the tracks they go to is very important. Having said that, it’s equally important … to make sure that the fan experience part is unique.”
Kyle Larson, the California native and 2022 Fontana winner, commented on the reconfiguration saying, “I don’t know exactly the extent of what they’re doing with the track, how big it’s going to be, the shape or banking and all that, and I love the 2-mile track, but I think the more short tracks we can have, the better off our sport is going to be.”
In the Stands
As has been the case for most of Auto Club’s recent races, the fan response to the Speedway’s uncertainty covers both ends of the spectrum.
While Brendan wants to keep the speedway configuration, Twitter user Going in Circles has a more bleak perspective on Fontana’s prospects should it remain in the same pattern.
More on how fans enjoy Fontana in From the Pressbox below. Meanwhile, on Reddit, Blazethesol52 reminds fans of the ups and downs of the track.
While some fans were concerned about Auto Club’s future, others were concerned about the potential for the Coliseum to be its replacement.
Based on the fan reaction, fans certainly care about the racing in Southern California.
On your Screen
The Iceberg breaks down the topsy-turvy history of the track once known as “Fontucky”.
From the Pressbox
On Twitter, The Athletic’s Jeff Gluck asks if it was a good race after every event.
In 2022, Fontana set the record for most responses to Gluck’s poll. The 91.5% of fans who said they enjoyed the ’22 edition is a stark contrast from the 2019 event that received only 37% positive responses.
With the rumor mill cranking, NASCAR and Auto Club Speedway executives have more questions than answers of late. All eyes will be on the Southern California track at the end of February in anticipation of its future.