Author: Jason Boyd
Date: March 21, 2015
Kevin Harvick likes what he's seen at Auto Club Speedway and thinks NASCAR would benefit from having more tracks host just one race a year.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, the current Sprint Cup points leader and winner of the past two races said while having two races works in a lot of places, sites such as Fontana, Calif., where Sunday's Auto Club 400 will run, work better with one race a year.
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“I think this race track is a great example of a lot of lessons that a lot of people obviously don’t pay attention to that run race tracks," Harvick said in a Team Chevy press release. "Sometimes, you take one really great thing and really easily make them into two mediocres, and we do that all the time in our sport.
"And I don’t understand that with race tracks a lot of the time, but this one has come full circle. And I think when you look at the crowds that we’ve had over the last couple of years, they’ve been really good."
USA Today's Jeff Gluck pointed to statistics at ACS that back Harvick's statements. In the story, he referenced a period from 1997-2003 where large crowds dominated the track so much that additional grandstands had to be built.
From 2004-2010, when Fontana had two races, crowd size declined and the capacity at the track was reduced. But, since returning to one race in 2011, the number of people attended has risen again.
"The racing has been really good here as that track surface has aged. As a driver you look forward to coming here now, because it’s one of those race tracks where you can run all over the place and the cars can slide around and you’re going to have fun from the driver’s seat," said Harvick, who is from nearby Bakersfield, Calif. "So, that bleeds over into the perception that the fans get as well, because everybody is talking about enjoying racing on this particular track.
“And I think some markets are just one-race markets. I would say 90 percent of them are one-race markets, but a lot of them still have two races, and you just see those mediocre crowds. I think when people know that you’re only coming one time a year, you have to go to that one particular race."
Fontana is one of 10 tracks that host one race a season out of the 23 where NASCAR runs Sprint Cup races in a season.
The others are Atlanta (March 1), Las Vegas (March 8), Sonoma (June 28), Kentucky (July 11), Indianapolis (July 26), Watkins Glen (Aug. 9), Darlington (Sept. 6), Chicago (Sept. 20) and Homestead-Miami (Nov. 22).
Sonoma and Watkins Glen are road-course tracks, while Chicago and Homestead-Miami only have races during the Chase. Homestead-Miami is where the season finale is held.
"Having a race with a good date is obviously good for the weather and the people to come out and enjoy it," Harvick said. "It’s not 115 degrees in August, which was always fun to be a part of in the race car. But I think all in all, it’s all come full circle, and I think everything is going good for this particular track.”
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