NASCAR cancels Fontana practice, qualifying due to heavy rain

FONTANA, Calif. – NASCAR abandoned Saturday’s scheduled practice and qualifying sessions at Auto Club Speedway as heavy rains lashed the 2-mile oval.

Both the Xfinity Series and Cup Series drivers will race without practice, which would have been a major concern a few years ago, but after that was the typical format in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, the teams should take it easy.

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, but is in jeopardy due to rain and cold. Optimistic estimates are three hours to dry the track, which has not been paved since it opened 25 years ago and is one of the most difficult to dry. Weepers (water seeping through the pores and seams of the surface) are common at this track and have sometimes forced NASCAR to postpone events despite several hours without rain.

FOX Weather is predicting at least a 70 percent chance of rain the rest of Saturday and a 40 percent chance of rain Sunday. Temperatures will be in the mid 40s.

The Cup race is scheduled for 3:30 pm ET Sunday on FOX. If the Xfinity race is postponed on Saturday, it would go after the Cup race at approximately 8pm ET (FS1).

If a race doesn’t come Sunday, NASCAR would try to race Monday, likely hoping for a mid-morning start in California.

A NASCAR race is considered official if it reaches the middle or end of Stage 2, whichever occurs first, and is then unable to continue due to weather, darkness or other factors. For the Cup, that would be 100 of the 200 scheduled laps. For Xfinity, that would be 70 of the 150 scheduled laps because Stage 2 ends on lap 70.

NASCAR set the race lineup based on the metric it uses to set the qualifying order and is used to set the lineup during the pandemic. The formula is 35 percent owner points standings, 25 percent driver finish from previous race, 25 percent owner finish from previous race and 15 percent standings of the driver’s fastest lap in the previous race.

Christopher Bell will be on the Cup pole, while Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will join him in the front row.

This is the last race on the track’s 2 mile oval. Public records show NASCAR has sold 433 acres for an estimated $544 million (based on taxes shown in public filings) to a real estate development company. NASCAR would retain 90 acres to convert the facility into a half-mile track with 35,000 grandstand seats. About 98 acres of the proposed mall (buildings to be used as warehouses for e-commerce businesses) would be available for parking.

Rain in Fontana

Rain in Fontana

The NASCAR Cup Series garage opened to rain at Auto Club Speedway.

NASCAR has already announced that it will not race at the track in 2024 as it begins to convert to short track. No firm construction schedule has been set.

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrassand register at FOX Sports NASCAR Newscast with Bob Pockrass.

Top FOX Sports NASCAR Stories:

FOLLOW Follow your favorites to personalize your FOX Sports experience

NASCAR Cup Series

Kyle Larson

Kyle Busch

Get more from the NASCAR Cup Series Follow your favorites for information on games, news and more

Source link

Leave a Comment