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Dustin Off and Closing Out Auto Club: Pala Casino 400

The history that has come from the Auto Club Speedway over the years, more of a mixed bag as to whether it’s been good, or has been overdone.

The hype that surrounded the track when it was built in 1997 was not as big as the build of Texas Motor Speedway was back in that same year.  Fast forward to 2023, and Texas went from having two races on the main schedule, to then having one plus the All-Star Race, and now has been relegated to a single event on the season.  California, similar story.

What makes the historical value different is that this track started with one race, but when it went to having two, it took over a date that for many years was associated with one track, and one track only.  It was like when the track got two race weekends, it took away the value of the track.  You could see the crowds becoming smaller and smaller when the track had an early-season race, and then another in the playoffs.

Now, the track not only has a single race, early in the season, but after this year the track’s identity is changing.

What we knew this track was, it’s wide corners, multiple lines, and high speeds is now becoming tighter, compact, and short.  California is going to be just 25 percent of what it is now, and some of us are unsure if this will be good, or if it won’t work like expected.  There’s nothing wrong with having a short track, but maybe it’s the fact everyone is so familiar with how the track is now.

That’s possibly why not everyone is automatically on board with this change, but having a short track on the west coast could be something of a boost to a track that has not been bringing in the crowds like it once did.

So, perhaps change is what this place needed, and with how the sport has changed in the last several years, with new tracks, new audiences, and new cars, maybe this is just part of the current status quo.’

Today’s race, which comes after track drying includes probably hoping a snow plow is available, is not just dusting off the first true race of the season that can show what each team brings to the table.  It’s closing a 26-year book on a track that is now going under the knife nearly immediately after the checkered flag waves.

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