Aug 25, 2008
Since we live in Southern California, we could never understand why NASCAR decided to schedule its Labor Day weekend race in Fontana, Calif. Not only is Labor Day weekend a perfect time to be at Los Angeles-area beaches, it is also a downright horrible time to be at what is now called Auto Club Speedway. Frequently, at that time of year, the temperatures in Fontana nudge 110 F, and they are often accompanied by a dust-filled wind that makes sitting in a grandstand about as appealing as a trip to purgatory. Because of this, we hail the new NASCAR schedule that has shifted the Labor Day race from California back to the Southeast. Atlanta Motor Speedway will host a Sunday night race on September 6, while the second Southern California race of 2009 will take place on October 11. Of course, there’s no guarantee that the October 11 date won’t be beset by the notorious Santa Ana winds, but it is still an intelligent move, and it puts the race in the Chase for the first time -- nice for California NASCAR fans.
Talladega Superspeedway might take a slight hit in the switch. It previously had the mid-October slot, but for 2009, its second race will take place on November 1, which means the weather might be marginally worse than it is three weeks earlier. But we doubt that there will be too many complaints about that since it will move the event deeper into the Chase. The good news on the schedule shifts is that everyone -- the track promoters and NASCAR -- all seemed to be on the same page.
One oddity of the calendar is the fact that there will not be a race on one seemingly prime summer weekend: August 29-30. That date following the Bristol race will give the Sprint Cup teams some much-needed R-and-R before the 12-week stretch that will end the season. The fact that the Labor Day race is in Atlanta rather than California also eases the travel schedule significantly.
So, unlike a NASCAR race, in the 2009 schedule game, everybody’s a winner. We offer congratulations to all on getting this right.
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