Parks Race Reactions: Auto Club 500

Dustin ParksAnalyst IFebruary 21, 2010

FONTANA, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway on February 21, 2010 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

On a day where the weather decided to be rather wacky, it was time to get ready for the "rest of the season" as NASCAR hit Hollywood.

At the end of 500 miles, it may have been a familiar face in victory lane, but it was another team that made the most progress. With that, here is my race reactions to the Auto Club 500.

I'm going to immediately state the most obvious point about the race, just so I can get it out of the way. That was the most pathetic crowd I have ever seen at a NASCAR race. The Auto Club Speedway cannot sell tickets anymore. Since the track has gotten two races, there hasn't been a sell out at the track.

I'm not sure if there is a definitive answer as to why, but there's multiple causes. The track doesn't provide as much excitement as others.

This track is just not exciting. That is what is keeping the fans away.

Why NASCAR doesn't see that the track can't sell seats because of its two dates is beyond me. Sure, one race is reduced to 400 miles, but that's not solving anything.

The Auto Club Speedway doesn't need two dates; it doesn't deserve two dates. There's plenty of tracks that would put on a better show and welcome the addition of the Sprint Cup Series to their schedule. NASCAR needs to look into making a change for 2011, because they will just be hurting the sport more if they don't.

Now, onto the actual race itself.

It definitely was a great afternoon for Jimmie Johnson, but it wasn't without a little luck and controversy. His pit stop late in the race came at a good time, as it was in the window to make it to the end. But, that caution could've proved disastrous.

He lucked out by getting ahead of the leader, which then put him out front as the field cycled through the stops under yellow.

Sure, on the radio Kyle Busch was upset, and he had a right to be. His view was that NASCAR practically handed the lead to Johnson and gave him the win. If I was in his shoes, I'd do the same thing.

But, he ran up front all afternoon. He was going to be in contention even if that caution didn't come out. He had the car to catch the leaders, and probably could've passed them.

It's a great rebound from the disaster of last week. Even though it's early, his win puts him into the top 12 in points. Plus, it gives him a lot of momentum heading into Las Vegas next week.

However, what I was most impressed with was the Richard Childress line-up. All three cars were at one point leading the race, and ran in the top ten all day.

Both Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton had to overcome pit road penalties, but raced back to the front and finished second and third. Add in Clint Bowyer who finished eighth, and it was a successful afternoon for everyone at RCR.

Harvick now finds himself in the points lead, with Burton right on his heels. It is a place that RCR has not seen in quite a while, his team out front. I'm looking forward to seeing how this works out, but this entire organization is looking 100% better from last year.

I know it's only two races, but those two races were a lot better than the 36 from last year.

There's a lot of story lines heading into next week already, and just two races in this season has been extremely exciting.

Wonder what next week's race in Las Vegas will bring?