Long: Three takeaways from Sunday’s race -- NASCAR officiating to Matt Kenseth and race dates
A flurry of cautions at the end - and NASCAR’s decision not to call yet another caution on the final lap for Greg Biffle’s accident - created a wild finish and much to debate.
Through all that, here are three takeaways from Sunday’s NASCAR Auto Club 400 Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway:
1. NASCAR’s officiating will be questioned after a pair of calls toward the end of Sunday’s race. NASCAR’s decision to call a debris caution before leader Kurt Busch got to the start/finish line to begin the final lap set in motion a series of events that resulted in Busch losing the race.
NASCAR’s decision to not throw a caution on Greg Biffle’s incident on the last lap also will be questioned. It does, however, fall in line with NASCAR’s desire to have races finish under green. The question is if this is still the correct policy.
2. Matt Kenseth’s pit crew remains fast. Twice he went from fourth to first on pit road during a caution. He went from third to first another time on pit road during a caution.
He never had a chance to take the lead during his final pit stop because his left axle broke. Still, Kenseth’s pit crew is worth watching because pit road is so critical for track position. Had Kenseth not had his axle problem, he could have been in a position to win and earn a Chase spot. For Toyota, winning has been difficult in the last year.
3. Kevin Harvick raised the point this weekend that some tracks didn’t deserve to have two Sprint Cup races, noting attendance issues at those tracks. Auto Club Speedway has only one Sprint Cup race a year. It had two Cup races a year from 2004-2010 but suffered attendance declines before its second date went to Kansas Speedway to give that track an additional Cup date. Sunday’s finish marked the fourth time in the past five years Auto Club Speedway has had a last-lap pass for the win.
As NASCAR looks to grow its audience, is it worthwhile to convince International Speedway Corp., which owns the track, to move a second race back to Auto Club Speedway because of those finishes even if it diminishes the crowd? Or is it better to have fans wanting for more with one race year at this 2-mile track?