California and Phoenix Both Make Changes To Sprint Cup Races In 2010

Dustin ParksAnalyst IJanuary 13, 2010

FONTANA, CA - OCTOBER 11:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet, leads the field at the final restart of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway on October 11, 2009 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

In another instance of NASCAR listening to the fans, International Speedway Corporation, the owners of the Auto Club Speedway, today announced changes to it's Chase race for 2010.

After listening to arguments about how the races have been boring, the fall event will be reduced from 500 to 400 miles.

Gillian Zucker, President of Auto Club Speedway, said that NASCAR had been discussing ways to make the track as competitive as possible.

"The results of some changes made by NASCAR such as double-file restarts and tire changes were seen at our inaugural Chase race, arguably one of the best races ever at the Speedway," Zucker said.

"This additional rules change to 400 miles is further evidence of NASCAR's commitment to racing excitement and to Southern California race fans."

The other change in this race comes in the name.

It's new name of the fall race will be the Pepsi Max 400, promoting the Pepsi's product containing ginseng and more caffeine.

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This would be the fourth name change for this race since it began in 2004. The original name was the Pop Secret 500, and then was taken over by Sony for 2006 and 2007. Pepsi took over sponsorship in 2008.

Shortening the length of the race was one of the considerations being discussed between the Speedway and NASCAR. As far back as 2008 the two sides were contemplating making a change, including changing the banking to create more multiple-groove racing.

With 50 fewer laps, this move means that strategies will change for race teams when they arrive for the second race.

The last two fall races have had few caution flags and laps. Combined, the 2008 and 2009 Pepsi 500 events have had 74 total laps run under caution. There were eight caution periods in the last race, however four of those came in the final 100 miles.

The shorter distance could mean more action and more drivers taking chances late in the running.

One of ISC's other tracks, Phoenix International Raceway, will also have changes this season for it's April 10 event. Officials have decided to extend the race another 100 kilometers.

The race will run another 63 laps to make the 600 kilometer, 375 mile, distance. The race has also been renamed as the Subway Fresh Fit 600.

Phoenix officials made the change to better suit NASCAR's new standard start times for this season. With all night races beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, the longer distance will allow the race to end under the lights. Phoenix is the first night race of the season.

Currently, there is no word whether ticket prices will reflect the change in distance.