NASCAR makes returns to Fontana Auto Club Speedway after 2021 hiatus
After a 2021 hiatus due to COVID-19, NASCAR Cup Series drivers returned to Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway on Sunday for the Wise Power 400.
The race marked the fourth time cup series drivers have had the chance to race what NASCAR is calling their 'Next Gen' car.
Cliff Daniels is a crew chief with Hendrick Motorsports. "I think it just races so different that a lot of the concepts that you would bring as a crew chief to call a race into like a short track race or a specific intermediate race, it's all different, it's unique to itself, and it's going to be my job to be a student of the game and try to make sure we do it right every week," said Daniels.
Due to some of the unfamiliarity with the new generation car, there were 12 caution flags throughout the race. But after 200 laps of well-fought racing, it was reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Larson who came away with the win. "It definitely feels good to get a win early on the year because going to the new car, you just you don't know if you're gonna win or not," said Larson.
Larson said this year's race was unique because there were a lot of different folks who led the pack, including Tyler Reddick, who led the race for 90 laps, the most he's ever led in his career. "You had some more players or some different players, I guess than you maybe would have had in the past, so that part of it that's neat to see. I think that'll probably change as we go along with the season, but for right now it's pretty cool to see," said Larson.
But it wasn't just drivers who got had some fun, fan Noah Valerio of Temple City talked about why he enjoys coming out to Fontana. "I've always liked the strategy behind it. I'm big numbers guys, so seeing different pit strategies and all that, and I mean who doesn't like seeing some cars go around (the) track, going really fast, really close together," said Valerio.
Cup Series drivers will now be heading out to the Mojave Desert for the Pennzoil 400 in Las Vegas next week, with Kyle Larson looking to make it back-to-back wins and defend his 2021 win in Las Vegas.