In this week’s edition of Dave Mathers’ Motion Motorsport Report, Dave talks about the final race on the two-mile track at Fontana. He also looks ahead to upcoming races and events, including the Motorama show, March 10, 11 & 12 at Toronto’s International Centre.
The decision has been made by NASCAR and International Speedway Corporation to tear down the two-mile track at Fontana and replace it with a short track, length to be determined.
Rumours have it that a large portion of the facility has been sold to developers for more, reportedly, than the amount that ISC paid for the entire facility in the first place. I, for one, will miss the three, four, even five-wide racing on the current track.
Uncommon weather hit the Los Angeles area over the weekend, resulting in rain and SNOW!! The mountains above L.A. had up to five feet of snow, making the weekend ‘canyon runs’ a little tricky.
NASCAR CUP SERIES: With qualifying for both classes rained out, the starting line-up was determined using a convoluted NASCAR metric. Sounds more like “The Matrix” to me!!
The numbers were garnered using the following: 25 per cent of the score is taken from the driver’s finish at the last race, 25 per cent from the owner’s finish at the last race, 35 per cent from the current year owner points, and 15 per cent from the fastest lap rank at the last race. Easy-peasy right?
Using these guidelines, Christopher Bell (Toyota) got the pole, Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Chev) was second and points leader Joey Logano (Ford) was third. Toyota, Chev, Ford – perfect parity.
The five-wide parade laps (one more than the World of Outlaws) clearly showed just how wide the track really is and why the drivers like it so much.
Due to no practice on the rained-on green track, a competition caution was called on lap 15. Kyle Larson visited the garage with reparable electrical issues. Ross Chastain had the lead on the restart. On lap 42, Brad Keselowski got spun when Corey LaJoie got loose under him and slid up. Ryan Blaney had the lead after the second yellow.
Chastain picked up the win in Stage 1 over Blaney and Daniel Suarez. On the restart, Denny Hamlin grabbed the lead. On lap 75, A.J. Allmendinger spun on the back stretch to bring out the third yellow flag for incident. Martin Truex Jr. had a problem on pit road and exited the pits with smoke coming off his left-front wheel, then it appeared to fall off, rolling down the infield grass.
Two lap penalty! On the restart, it was Austin Dillon out front. On lap 82, LaJoie spun onto the infield grass after a ‘little’ help but saved it and kept going.
Nevertheless, the CAUTION still came out!! I guess ‘Quick Draw McGraw’ was the one who said, ‘put it out’?
As EVERY racer knows, cautions breed cautions and a bunch of cars, 12 in total, were taken out on the restart. After the clean-up, Logano had the point. Chastain had the lead at the halfway point.
Chastain picked up the win again in Stage 2, followed by Kyle Busch (up from dead last at one point due to a pit road speeding ticket) and Logano. Kevin Harvick had the lead on the restart, followed by Busch and Chastain. On lap 141, Ty Dillon’s car just quit on track for a yellow.
Busch had the lead on the restart, with 55 laps to go in the 200-lapper. And he ran that right to the checkered flag, topping Chase Elliott, Chastain, Suarez and Harvick. A good win for Richard Childress. Has he finally found the perfect replacement for Dale Earnhardt? I think he has.
In the points, Chastain leads Logano by one and Alex Bowman by 12. Their next race is Las Vegas, Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on TSN 5 and Fox.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES: With rain (and maybe some snow?) washing out qualifying, the starting line-up was set using the usual tried, tested and true method – the points and not some convoluted metric system.
This gave Daytona winner Austin Hill (Chev) the pole, followed by John Hunter Nemechek (Toyota) and Justin Allgaier (Chev). Similar to the Cup race, a competition caution was thrown at lap 15 to check on tire wear and make any chassis changes.
Nemechek had the lead on the restart. The yellow came out on lap 27, when Gray Gaulding spanked the wall hard after blowing a right-front tire. Cole Custer had the lead on the restart and continued out front to win Stage 1. On lap 44, yellow when Sheldon Creed got bumped and spun down, just hitting the inside wall. Custer still had the lead on the restart.
Custer won Stage 2, as well, by over four seconds. I must say the night shots were awesome with the great sunset, the palm trees and the track lighting. VERY impressive.
On lap 86, Brandon Jones tried to move high but there was a car there already and he spun down, off the track, for the fifth yellow for incident. On the restart, Creed once again was out front. On lap 90, two cars, including Custer, got together and kept going but still brought out the yellow.
At lap 127, Ryan Ellis spun, bringing out another yellow and setting up a run to the finish. The green came back out on lap 133, with Creed and Austin Dillon out front. They didn’t complete one lap before rookie Sammy Smith spun from about fifth. The green came out with 12 to go and Nemechek out front.
Canadian Alex Labbe started 28th and finished 28th while driving car 28!!
At the flag, it was Nemechek over Sam Mayer and Allgaier. Austin Hill leads the points over both Nemechek and Allgaier, by seven.
Their next race is Las Vegas, Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET on TSN 5.
NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCKS: Christian Eckes leads Matt Crafton by five and Ty Majeski by nine in the points, after one race. Their next race is Las Vegas, Friday on Fox Sports Racing at 9 p.m. ET.
FORMULA ONE: Their season starts in Bahrain, Sunday on TSN 4 & 5 at 9:55 a.m. ET.
INDYCAR: Their season starts at St. Petersburg, Sunday on TSN 2 at 12 noon ET.
IMSA: Their next race is the 12 Hours of Sebring, March 11 & 12.
NHRA: Their season starts Sunday, March 12 in Gainesville, Florida. That’s a change from the traditional Pomona opener!!
NASCAR PINTY’S SERIES: Their season starts Saturday, May 13 at Sunset Speedway.
UNITED RACING SERIES – APC LATE MODEL SERIES: Their season starts Saturday, May 20 at Sunset Speedway.
ONTARIO SPORTSMAN SERIES: Their season starts Friday, May 19 at Delaware.
SUPERSTAR RACING EXPERIENCE (SRX): Their season starts Thursday, July 13 at Stafford Motor Speedway.
DELAWARE SPEEDWAY: Their season starts Friday, May 12.
FLAMBORO SPEEDWAY: Their season starts Saturday, April 29.
OHSWEKEN SPEEDWAY: Their season starts Friday, May 19.
SOUTHERN ONTARIO MOTOR SPEEDWAY (SOUTH BUXTON): Their season starts Saturday, May 6.
GRAND BEND SPEEDWAY: Their season starts Saturday, May 20.
GRAND BEND DRAGWAY: Their season starts Saturday, May 6.
ST. THOMAS DRAGWAY: Their season starts Saturday, May 6.
TORONTO MOTORSPORT PARK: Their season starts April 22.
SHANNONVILLE DRAGS: Their first race is June 17 & 18, Nostalgia Weekend.
MOTORAMA CUSTOM CAR & MOTORSPORTS EXPO PRESENTED BY EBAY MOTORS: This racing filled show takes place March 10, 11 & 12 at Toronto’s International Center, across from Pearson Airport. The Racing Zone is already sold out and the Fast Eddie Night of Champions on Saturday, March 11 will feature a ton of track and series champions on the main stage.
DRAGSTRIP MEMORIES: This great event goes April 16 at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, on the grounds of Hamilton Airport.
CAN-AM STOCK/SUPER STOCK SERIES: Their season starts Saturday, June 3, Grand Bend.
MY ‘VIEW’: H ands up for anybody who has had problems with Rogers. A whole street full of power line poles crashed due to the ice storm last Wednesday night here in St. Thomas and our power momentarily ‘blipped’ for just a few seconds. BUT we lost our internet.
After several frustrating attempts, we were shipped a new WiFi pod but still needed a tech to fix us up. Finally, Saturday afternoon we got up and running. My point is that we really, really, really depend on the internet… maybe too much?
I must say it was very frustrating, even though I could use my phone. What did we do fifty years ago?
Until next week!!
– Dave Mathers