The winner of Sunday’s Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET, Fox) will forever have bragging rights as the last winner on the current track.
The 2-mile track has become one of the best intermediate tracks in NASCAR over the past decade thanks to its well-worn pavement and drivers’ ability to run anywhere they want in the corners to try to run a fast lap. It’s not uncommon to see drivers using five or six different lines through a set of corners on a given lap as the wide track provides plenty of options.
But those options are disappearing after the 2023 season. NASCAR owns the track and it has plans to turn the facility into a short track. While construction on the new track project hasn’t begun, the plan is for the 2-mile track to be replaced by a half-mile track.
NASCAR does need more short tracks on the schedule, but we’re skeptical that getting rid of a stellar intermediate track is the best way to go about adding short tracks to the schedule. And we’re also becoming more and more skeptical that the short track will actually happen. Could Sunday’s race be the last ever at that site?
It’s at least slightly plausible based on recent comments from NASCAR officials. NASCAR president Steve Phelps used the qualifier “right now” multiple times when asked last week on SiriusXM about the plans to build a short track. And NASCAR COO Steve O’Donnell told the Sports Business Journal that “it’s fair to say” NASCAR was evaluating the Los Angeles market “as a whole.”
If the short track construction happens, the facility won’t reopen until after the 2024 season. That will leave at least one season without a race in Fontana.
So savor what will unfold on the 2-mile track on Sunday. It’s extremely likely that we’ll never see a race on that track ever again.
Here’s what you need to know to bet the race. All odds are from BetMGM.
Kyle Larson (+700)
Denny Hamlin (+900)
Ryan Blaney (+900)
Chase Elliott (+1000)
Kyle Busch (+1100)
Christopher Bell (+1100)
Joey Logano (+1100)
Tyler Reddick (+1100)
Larson has two wins and four top-five finishes in eight starts. That makes him the favorite ahead of Hamlin and Blaney. Neither Hamlin nor Blaney have gotten a win at ACS. Elliott has three top-10 finishes in six starts while Busch is the active wins leader at the track with four wins and 16 top-10 finishes in 23 races. Bell has an average finish of 37th in two starts while Logano has seven top fives in 15 starts and Reddick’s best finish in two starts is 11th.
Good mid-tier value
William Byron (+1500)
Kevin Harvick (+2000)
Harvick won in 2011 at ACS and has gotten a top-10 finish in half of his starts at the track. Byron had finished 15th in three straight starts before he was collected in a crash a season ago.
Don’t bet this driver
Erik Jones (+2800)
Jones has the second-best average finish of anyone at ACS at 10.2 and was third a season ago. But we’re not a fan of betting him at odds shorter than numerous drivers from bigger teams.
Looking for a long shot?
Austin Cindric (+6600)
Cindric started first and finished 12th in his first Cup Series start at the track a season ago. Whenever you can get a playoff driver in Team Penske equipment at these odds, you do it.