Final Numbers from Fontana’s Final Race?

That’s a wrap on the final race at the Fontana CA 2 mile configuration.

Kyle Busch wasted little time getting into Victory Lane in his new #8 RCR Camaro. I had no doubt he’d find The Winner’s Circle but admittedly didn’t expect it in race #2

Busch passed Michael McDowell and led the final 21 laps for the win. He finished 2.98 seconds ahead of Chase Elliott for the third largest Margin Of Victory since the race went to 400 miles in 2010.

Third place finisher Ross Chastain won Stages 1 and 2 and leaves the Golden State as the top point-getter for the race, beating race-winner Busch 54 to 49 . This “great points day” moved Chastain atop the season points leaderboard with a narrow one point lead over Daytona 500 winner, Joey Logano. Chastain has won three of the four stages this season and is collecting Playoff Points the hard way-one at a time. He led the field five time for 91 of the race’s 200 laps with the next closest being race-winner Busch who led three times for 27 laps.

Fourth place went to Daniel Suarez, Chastain’s teammate. Daniel led no laps but his strong Stage and Race finishes resulted in the third highest point total for the day. After two races he finds himself fifth in points.

 FONTANA, CALIFORNIA : A general view of racing during the NASCAR Cup Series Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway on February 26, 2023 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

The race saw 28 lead changes among 12 drivers and was slowed 8 times (3 for completion cautions and Stage Breaks) for 38 laps, including “The Big One” on the Lap 88 restart that involves eight cars.

One of the primary metrics used by NASCAR is green flag passes. This race saw 3512 GFPs which was up from 2696 in NEXT GENS first race here but down from the last GEN-6 race here in 2020 that saw 3968 GFPs-the highest since the race went to the 400-mile format.

The race saw 1328 Quality Passes. These are Green Flag Passes that took place in positions 1-15. A that means that the top 41.7% of the field (P1-15) produced 37.8% of the green flag passes. Another way to look at it is of the passes for positions done more was done at P16 or below than further up front.

There was 28 lead changes. 10 occurred under Caution Flag conditions, resulting in 18 Green Flag Lead Changes. 10 of those occurred in the first three laps after the race start or restart while the field was bunched and green flag pit stops resulted in four more Lead Changes.

Four Lead Changes were a result of a car passing the leader to take the lead. These we refer to as Racing Lead Changes and though not an official metric is what fans think of when they hear “Lead Changes”.

So of the 28 Lead Changes four were a result of a driver passing another for the lead without benefit of caution, restarts or leaders relinquishing the lead to pit.

In this race we saw on

Lap 28-Joey Logano pass Ross Chastain

Lap 29-Ryan Blaney pass Joey Logano

Lap 98-Ross Chastain pass Denny Hamlin

Lap 180-Kyle Busch pass Michael McDowell and lead the final 21 laps for the win.

These four Racing Lead Changes was down one from last year.

For those keeping score at home Martin Truex, Jr. (Who else?) was the first driver penalized under the new loose tire penalty after losing a wheel on track after the fourth caution.

Also the new restart zone rule is being blamed in part for “The Big One”. We’ll just have to see how that plays out going forward.

Overall, it was the things not on the stat sheet that will be what this final race will be known for

It was the final race here in the configuration

It was announced as a sellout. Big shoutout for all the fans who endured the less than ideal race conditions to send her off.

The crazy weather conditions dominated the story lines

Kyle Busch’s first win for RCR,

Kyle has had a win with every team he has driven for in Cup,

He has won a race in 19 consecutive years of racing, passing previous record holder at RIchard Petty with 18,

The race had a Big One (for those who like crashes)

Was a strong showing by Chevrolet and Trackhouse Racing.

The Series left Fontana with more questions about its future or Cup racing’s future in Southern California.

Is what we saw good-bye or we’ll see you later? Only time will tell.

On to Vegas.

Thunder On… and Stay Safe!

David Nance

Photo Credit (Cover); Meg Oliphant / Getty Images


  1. You’re a good man to wade through all those numbers and give us meaningful analysis, Mr. Nance. I didn’t pay much attention to this one, because I was watching the sprint cars race at Lincoln Speedway (love being able to see a race under decent weather conditions in Pennsylvania in February), where the competition was well worth my $20.

    Vegas doesn’t always produce similar results to Fontana, so we’ll see how this weekend goes. At least it’s not a “superspeedway” freak show.

    Will be interesting to see how attendance and ratings go over the next few weeks. NASCAR could be pushing the right buttons, despite the skepticism of old farts like me.

    1. Thanks Frank! Sounds like you were having more fun at Lincoln than those poor souls enduring Fontana. Bless you for stopping by and bless each and every one who stayed with it.

      Anxious to see what Vegas produces. I’m trying to keep a PMA toward this season but two races in and I’m struggling.

      4 racing lead changes over a 3 hour period is a bit light to me… yet 91% fans voted it was a good race in the Gluck-o meter poll. Wonder what they would do if they had 5 like last year?

      Struggling to get back in the saddle. Hoepfully we’ll do better. Thanks for the encouragement! Much appreciated.

      Have a good week and a great race weekend. 2 down/34 to go.

  2. Dave, unfortunately I think it’s “See you later”. Mike Joy basically said as much at the close of the broadcast Sunday. Denny Hamlin said the same thing on his podcast. But here’s what I think is the biggest tell from all of this Fontana deal. When was the last time NASCAR announced a major upgrade or reconfiguration, and didn’t tell you when it was going to be completed? I can’t think of even 1 over the last 25 years. With Fontana, they couldn’t even give a projected start date. Now I know the CA is a whole different animal, when it comes to getting anything approved & completed, but I would sure assume that NASCAR could at least get projections on a project. Nothing. Plus, I saw the platte map projections from the county (I’m assuming). Approximately 82% of the entire land mass that is Fontana Speedway, in under contract for sale (approx $940 mil). NASCAR is making a very nice profit over what they paid Roger Penske for it. Everything platted around the “new” track is several industrial building sites, and supporting parking lots. Without a lot of cross utilization for the parking, I simply don’t see enough real estate (approx 80 acres) left to host a Cup event for fan parking, for teams and NASCAR’s equipment. Another thing is this. If this sale goes through, and I assume that it would (I can’t see NASCAR giving up a triple header race date in SoCal, without knowing it was going to close), just how much more valuable is that remaining land worth once they break ground on all that I industrial complex buildings? That 80 acres might bring 40-50% of what the first 422 acres sold for.
    This also isn’t the only track that NASCAR is selling off land adjacent to a NASCAR owned race track. Either NASCAR is banking money to offset the revenue loss they are expecting to lose to the RTA, or they are building up a giant golden parachute for the end of NASCAR. As we were discussing in previous posts, the next 18 months good be very interesting, or a big nothing burger. But there is a reason why NASCAR bought up all of their outstanding stock a couple of years ago, and dissolved ISC.

    1. Good points Ron! There is more questions than answers, insanity over sanity on this one. The number I’ve been hearing is over a half a billion for the property. Now that’s some jack.

      I agree with you about a tracks future on that property. I think it’s done. The only way they will see racing there is if they put on a street race through the developed property. A track won’t make it. New construction in CA is a long shot. Mucking in a brownfield is a long shot with a limb in the way. Rebuilding a nuisance after eliminated for an event featuring technology they are bound and determined to eradicate is a long shot with a limb in the way with a heavy cross wind.

      And for what? Like you say think about how much the remaining property is worth? Big big money and you don’t have to do a thing to get it but to sign it over.

      I’ve been mystified over the fluidity of the whole thing. First is was a half mile “if Martinsville and Bristol had a love child” was Dave Moody’s description when first announced. I’ve heard .75 and .67. Nailing Jello to the wall. That’s never good.

      Guess there hasn’t been enough collaboration. More will probably solidify things.

      What I heard on parking is what you said-it would be shared between the track and new facilities. Folks said even with the smaller footprint it could still work.

      I’m no expert but questionable attendance figures coupled with drops in viewership and now track closing/property sell offs with no plans hardly looks healthy to me.

      I wished I had the money NASCAR pumps into their satellite station to convince folks like me that what I’m seeing is not what is going on.

      Agree on the next 18 months. It has the feel of Professional Bill Riding-except it’s not eight seconds but 18 months. Woo Hoo ride em Cowboy!

      Thanks for your comments. Lots to ponder. Hopefully we have good racing this weekend.

      Hope that black cat was not a foreboding.

      PS-check out Cindy Yen on Twitter. She talks viewer ratings but since she is out there she has been doing some digging on documents filed, etc.

      Might find a nugget or two in there

  3. David, I still shake my head in amazement when I read your stat articles. They are great. Thank you.

    Hard to believe there were that many passes but when you can see the pack which they don’t always comment on, you can see things happening and passes they don’t mention. I am always wishing they would zoom out so I can see more cars and occasionally, like you and others, I see something happening long before they comment on it, if they do at all.

    Sadly, they have already sold a lot of the property, but say there is some reserved for a short track. Soon, the development occupants will probably complain about the noise if they do start racing again. Way too many tracks have gone by the wayside for that reason.

    Thank you again.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Vivian!

      The stats point to me that except for restarts, pit stops and a few scattered instances if you wanted to see racing up front… sorry.

      Racing throughout the field… you aren’t going to see it. And if you do and it’s a battle for 15th, what’s that tell you about what is going on up ahead?

      Everyone talked (and voted) that it was a good race but the last 15 laps they could t pull the cameras back far enough to get P1 and P2 in the same frame. The only time you saw two cars in the frame is when Kyle was lapping a slower car. I guess that’s racing but would hardly call it good (unless you are an 8 fan).

      I’ve not been too excited about the racing so far but I’m not sure if it’s the racing or the broadcast. I really don’t think that FOX has done anything to help the look of the racing this season. I enjoyed having Tony in the booth but felt that hai presence threatened Bowyer and he had to make sure folks knew who was the broadcaster. Tony would make a comment and Clint would have to get the last word.

      Got old. I am NOT looking forward to what the interaction will be like between Clint and Danica. Last season was ugly and painful.

      Praying for improvement but not betting on it.

      Let’s hope we see a good one a Vegas.

      Thanks again and take care!

  4. Here’s the latest on Fontana from Jayski’s.
    MARCH 1, 2023 AT 3:15 PM
    UPDATE: Corion Properties, Inc. announces the completed sale of phase 1 of 433 acres in the highly sought after Inland Empire West submarket of Southern California by Auto Club Speedway (“Seller”) to Dallas-based Hillwood Investment Properties and CBRE Investment Management (“Buyer”). Phase 1 included 364.2 acres. Total consideration, which included a recorded transaction price of $559 million and ongoing Buyer obligations for future development, maintenance and use of the parking area for a proposed new short track, exceeded $800 million. Phase 2, encompassing approximately 69 acres, is scheduled to close on or before December 31, 2026. Located on the Auto Club Speedway property at the juncture of the I-15 and I-10 Freeways in Fontana, CA, the ACS Logistics Center is fully entitled for up to 6,600,000 square feet of modern logistics facilities. Situated at the heart of the Inland Empire industrial market, which includes 632 million square feet total inventory and a 1.1% vacancy in the Inland Empire West, the ACS Logistics Center will include abundant features programmed to mitigate environmental impacts and appeal to sophisticated logistics tenant ESG requirements.
    At least they are saying that there will be shared parking, if the short track gets built.

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