Mar 23, 2014; Fontana, CA, USA; A blown out tire rest in the pit during the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

NASCAR: Tire Wear Infuses Excitement Into The Auto Club 400

As a Blogger who writes both NASCAR and Golf stories, I normally forego The Auto Club 400 because I’m busy covering the Arnold Palmer Invitational on the PGA Tour. With five racing grooves on a flat race track and 43 of the best drivers in the world, Fontana usually qualifies as a Snoozer Stop on the Sprint Cup schedule. After seeing the finish of Saturday’s 300, I decided to see how the changes to Gen 6 might fare at the two-mile track in SoCal.

What I heard from various Social Media sites during the race, was everyone seemed concerned that the Goodyear Eagles were causing a ton of problems, and the source of multiple caution flags as well as numerous lead changes. I thought this factor and Gen 6’s power brought some much-needed excitement to what is usually a dull race.

If they had not had the constant restarting, and unpredictable cautions due to tires popping at inopportune times, Jimmy Johnson, or Jeff Gordon may have gotten such a good lead, that with no one to catch them, it would have turned into a snooze-fest.

As a fan that would prefer to see rubbing, and almost wrecking instead of the top drivers in NASCAR following the pace car at 70 miles per hour, I think the Gen 6 is doing a hell of a job. I wasn’t real happy with the Phoenix Race, but I think for the most part, Gen6 has been much racier than it was a year ago. And that’s good for fans like myself.

The only factor that seems to be apparent, and still a problem is how the leader, in clean air can check out on the field. Of course the tire wear took care of that problem on Sunday, but I can see it being a problem at the 1.5 to 2.0 mile tracks, especially those with little to no banking.

The restrictor-plate tracks are a different horse all together, and with 43 cars on a 1/2 mile track, it only takes the leader four laps to catch the back of the pack. Those tracks are not a problem so running out in clean air is not a problem for the Fan Experience.

Even on the five-groove monster at Fontana, Gen 6 looked good in the pack. Drivers with their cars set up properly were able to draft, run high, and low, and gave us some nice racing if you didn’t fix on the leader, or weren’t constantly looking for the big one to complete your day.

The decent racing on Sunday kept me busy all afternoon channel checking between the race, and the Golf tournament. And after a very exciting finish at Bay Hill and a spin by Clint Bowyer with two laps remaining, I was treated to another exciting finish at Fontana. It was a good day all around. Thanks to the tire problems!

You can follow Les on Twitter @Spin_47

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Tags: Auto Club 400 Jeff Gordon Jimmie Johnson NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

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