5 Questions Before ... Auto Club 500

Are we done talking about Daytona? No? Well, take a few minutes to finish reading this while I preview the race at Auto Club Speedway this weekend and then you can proceed to gripe about the pothole some more. While it may take a little while to get our heads out of Daytona after being there for over two weeks, we can still continue to ask questions, no matter how stupid they may be (I see you Tony Stewart!).

What will attendance be like this weekend? … It’s looking more and more likely that Kansas Speedway will be getting a second date now that they’ve received the final approval to build the Hard Rock Casino. Two racetracks that seem to be in the running for losing a date to Kansas Speedway are Martinsville Speedway and Auto Club Speedway. ACS doesn’t have a long history of strong attendance, and this weekend might provide some insight as to which track is more likely to lose their date. Besides, race fans all over the country, not just in Virginia, would start a protest if a short track lost a date to yet another intermediate track

How big of a story will Danica Patrick be? … I made sure to leave Danica completely out of Tuesday’s column so you guys couldn’t get upset with me over having her in today’s. We got a taste of how big of a deal she really is when she entered the ARCA and NASCAR Nationwide Series races over the weekend, and ratings reached record highs. However, this was her debut. Could we possibly see the buzz die down just a bit now that the “newness” of Danica is about worn off? Normally the second race for a driver is still considered pretty new, but as much as we’ve been hearing about her lately this is all old news. Bonus question: Is ACS upset that her debut was in Daytona, not Fontana?

Who will show to be the real players this season? … There’s no doubt that Daytona is a crapshoot. However, the bulk of the schedule is mile or mile-and-a-half racetracks and, though one race does not a season make, we may see who some of the real players are this season based on their performance this weekend. Then again, Matt Kenseth won back-to-back races to start the season off last season, and then fell away into oblivion as the season progressed. Then again, Chase contenders such as Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, and Denny Hamlin performed rather well in this race last season. Who knows? Maybe this race is just as much of a crapshoot as Daytona.

Will we have anymore issues with “water”? … Whether it’s coming from a pothole or the sky, Mother Nature continues to leave her mark on the sport of NASCAR. Sometimes the track is hot, sometimes it’s cold, sometimes it’s wet, and sometimes it’s dry. But the weather plays more of a role in racing than it does in any other sport. What will she have to say to us this weekend?

What will the controversy be about this weekend? … It’s a sure thing. There will be controversy sometime during the weekend. It doesn’t matter if it comes in the race, practice, pit road, or even what series. NASCAR fans will have something to talk about this weekend, and it’ll continue to be a discussion even into next weekend. This week it was a …. pothole. This week it’ll probably be a hot dog wrapper causing a caution or something stupid like that. I can’t guarantee it will be a good story, but there will be a story.

Bonus questions: What’s new with Baby Edwards? … What celebrities that no one really cares about will be hanging around the racetrack this weekend? … What happens if there’s an earthquake and it puts another hole in the track? Will they use Bondo again?

Photo courtesy of NASCARMedia. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
5 Questions Before ... Auto Club 500 5 Questions Before ... Auto Club 500 Reviewed by Summer Dreyer on Thursday, February 18, 2010 Rating: 5