By: Ashley McCubbin
Over the past few years, there has been rampant discussions about tearing down Auto Club Speedway and reconfiguring it to a short track. The NASCAR Xfinity Series put up a solid argument why that should not happen.
Whether at the drop of the green flag, through the middle of a long run, or the end of the event, drivers could be seen utilizing every single groove around the full speedway. Depending how your car was handling and the run you were able to get, some drivers found success rim riding, while others flew it around the bottom.
There was an ability to pass and challenge for positions all day long, no matter where you were in the field. Cue the drives back to the front by both Cole Custer and Noah Gragson after pit road issues. There was also a spirited four-way battle for sixth that took most of the final stage, as competitors traded lines.
The drivers were challenged with the seams as if you hit it right, you were golden with momentum. However, dare you cross one, you would twitch a little sideways and have to save your car – which allowed someone else to gain a run.
The aging pavement also allowed for strategy and passes depending what tires you had, as evident by Anthony Alfredo almost becoming the hero with his late-charge to second at the end. There was also Ty Gibbs charging back through after a mid-race spin.
Intermediate tracks have evidently gained a bad rap over the years due to strung out, single-file, aero dependent racing. Ultimately, this is a product of the racecar package and new asphalt together. Though Auto Club Speedway is not that for all the reasons stated above, and should not be singled out and changed otherwise.
On top of great racing on-track, NASCAR on Fox was able to put together a solid broadcast. They featured the different drives through the field, with solid commentary from both Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney that gave you insight. They were challenged with a red flag, but still managed to entertain thanks to Regan Smith going down a slide. With the race running late due to three overtime finishes, it was nice to see them stick with it so fans got the full show.
The only downfall? Not interviewing first-time winning car owner Bobby Dotter. SS Green Light Racing was thought of a mid-pack team, but it seems a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing has been the perfect recipe to put them on the map.
While Custer got the upper hand on Saturday, though, the early upper hand in the series has to go to JR Motorsports. They had all four cars in the top-five at one point, finishing the event in positions second, fourth, sixth, and eighth.