If you asked most race fans what’s better than the night race at Bristol, they would probably say two night races at Bristol. That’s exactly what happened this past week. Mother Nature once again played havoc with the day’s events at Bristol, causing the race to initially be delayed by almost two hours, and then at the one-quarter mark, the rains returned for another three-plus hours.
By the time the track was finally dried and racing resumed, it was so late they had to turn on the lights. Mother Nature allowed racing to continue until there were only two laps remaining. For unexplainable reasons at the time, a bank of caution lights came on with two laps to go and NASCAR officials had not ordered the lights to come on. As officials attempted to get the running order right for the assumed green-white-checkered finish, rain came pouring down yet again, ending the race for good under caution. It was later determined that one of the flagmen in the flagstand accidentally leaned on the manual override switch triggering the lights to come on.
“It appears that in the flagstand, one of the flag people had leaned on the switch that is the manual override for the caution lights, and so that happened. That happened and at that time when the flagstand realized that the caution lights were illuminated, the flag man threw the flag, and then after that happened, we froze the field from the tower,” vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said.
All in all it was another wacky race at Bristol. Congratulations to Carl Edwards who won his first race of the year. It was Edwards’ third win at Bristol and his first in the spring. Edwards has now won two of the last three short-track races dating back to last year. The series now moves to another one of Edwards’ better tracks, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
Auto Club Speedway, then known as California Speedway was introduced to the schedule in 1997. It was and still is a 2.0-mile track that was designed by Roger Penske and modeled after the Michigan International Speedway. From 1997 to 2003 California hosted one race a year in mid-spring. Jeff Gordon took the inaugural race and added two more wins in 1999 and 2004. In 2004, as part of the schedule realignment, California was given a second race on Labor Day weekend, at the expense of Darlington Raceway. Elliott Sadler won the first Labor Day weekend event at California. One year later, California would be the second race of the season, replacing Rockingham. California would be the second race of the year from 2005 to 2010. California would continue to host the Labor Day event from 2004 to 2008. In 2009, the schedule was realigned again and California’s second date was moved from Labor Day into the Chase. California only held one Chase race in 2010 before officials reduced California’s number of races back to one in 2011. In February 2008, Auto Club bought the naming rights in a ten-year deal and renamed it Auto Club Speedway.
Most wins among active drivers: Five (Jimmie Johnson)
Defending Winner: Kyle Busch took advantage of contact on the last lap between Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin last spring to earn his second win at Auto Club Speedway.
Prediction: There has only been one race on an intermediate track this year and that was at Las Vegas. The Penske cars were both fast there and one wound up in Victory Lane. Last year, this driver was fighting for the lead on the last lap before contact cost him the win. He rebounded to win the August race at Michigan, which is a sister track to Auto Club. I’m going with Joey Logano. Logano has been fast everywhere this year so far and given how well he ran at Vegas this year and his success at Auto Club and Michigan last year, I think Logano will lock himself into the Chase and give Penske two chances to win another championship.
David Barr is an intern with Berks-Mont Newspapers, a graduate of Daniel Boone High School and is currently in his last semester at Mansfield University.