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August 1, 2014

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Auto Club Speedway needs to be reconfigured

In September the Los Angeles Times reported that no action is being taken on a multimillion-dollar proposal to reconfigure Auto Club Speedway. The changes would have included raising the banking in the turns from 14 degrees to 23 degrees and narrowing certain sections, all in the hopes of making the racing more competitive.

It’s unfortunate these changes won’t be coming soon because the move toward two races a year at this track hasn’t resulted in the full grandstands that the track owners had hoped for. Even moving a race to the Chase didn’t result in a full house as we saw on Sunday. Nevertheless, there was one plus that came from moving the second race to the Chase. The weather was a lot more bearable.

According to the Times’ story, the weak economy is a restrictor plate that is putting a hold on this program. I hope that once the economic climate improves the plan to revamp this track will resurface. But Auto Club Speedway President Gillian Zucker mentioned on Sunday that although she was interested in the idea of changing the track’s banking, she was told that it would create safety issues. Increasing the banking to 23 degrees could increase speeds so much that restrictor plates would have to be used.

Wouldn’t it be great if Auto Club Speedway could be made into a track that was one mile in length or less, surrounded by grandstands? But it might be hard to finish that much construction between races.

Jimmie Johnson now has four wins at the California track. That’s more than any other driver. And after seeing how strong he was on Sunday, it’s clear to me that even an earthquake during the race wouldn’t have stopped his march to victory lane.

Mark Martin, who is now 12 points behind Johnson in the Chase, has his work cut out for him if he plans to keep Johnson from grabbing the Sprint Cup, especially since the next race is at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway. And we all know how Johnson performs at Charlotte.

Can anyone stop Johnson and Co.? I’m not sure anyone is up to it. It’s possible that the only person who can stop Johnson is Johnson. A mistake by this team may be the only thing that could deny the No. 48 team a fourth consecutive championship. Then again, this isn’t a team that makes a lot of big mistakes.

Kyle Busch is amazing. Suffering from flu-like symptoms, Busch eventually had to give up his seat to David Gilliland. But despite being sick, he managed to pass 20 cars before turning his car over to the relief driver.

Here’s a doodle I sketched from the press box at the race.

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