Larry McReynolds Weighs in on Looming NASCAR Track Change

Larry McReynolds

FOX Sports Larry McReynolds provides analysis about the Next Gen car.

America’s Crew Chief has weighed in on an important debate. Larry McReynolds has said that he is not in favor of changing Auto Club Speedway into a half-mile short track.

McReynolds, who celebrated 23 NASCAR Cup Series wins between 1982 and 2000, provided his thoughts about the proposed changes during the March 1 iteration of the “McReynolds Rundown.” He explained that he wants to see a short track on the west coast but that he also wants to return to Auto Club Speedway’s current form for another Gen 7 race.

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“We were going to race there in 2021 and then for 2022, this year, it was going to be shortened to a short track. That did not happen because of the pandemic,” McReynolds said. “But now that we have run the Next Gen car there this year, I really hesitate to say any kind of reconfiguration needs to take place.

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“Now, I will say I think a short track out on the west coast would be a great thing,” McReynolds continued in his rundown. “But I want to go back to that two-mile facility with the Next Gen car because when we go back in 2023, I think the racing will only be better.”

The Plans Currently Remain in Limbo

News surfaced in September 2020 that NASCAR had proposed massive renovations to the two-mile track in Southern California. The plan at the time was to convert Auto Club Speedway into a half-mile short track with high-banked corners like Bristol Motor Speedway while simultaneously focusing on upgraded suites and hospitality areas.

The plans have been out in the open since 2020, but there is no clear timeline for when this work will take place. Supply chain issues have played a role, as have other factors. The current expectation is that the renovations will still take place, but there is no current timeline for when they will happen.

“We had to pump the brakes a little bit with where we were going,” said Dave Allen, the president of Auto Club Speedway, transcript courtesy of Speed Sport. “We definitely are looking at the potential of changing the facility to a half-mile track. A lot of fans have said they want to see more short-track racing.

“So that’s what we’ve been looking at. The timetable has not been established as of yet. I hope as we get through the year, a little further, we’ll have a little bit more direction on that, but the excitement within the company to continue to strategize and to develop what that looks like moving forward is very, very strong.”

A 2-Time Cup Series Champion Expects a Change

When the Cup Series drivers battled for position on the old, two-mile surface at Auto Club Speedway, they created numerous conversations on social media. Multitudes on Twitter called for the track to remain the way it is instead of becoming a half-mile short track, especially after they watched some of the best drivers in the Cup Series struggling to control the Gen 7 cars.

While there have been calls for Auto Club Speedway to remain the same, a two-time Cup Series champion has expressed the opinion that NASCAR will move forward with the reconfiguration. Kyle Busch said as much following the Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum.

Busch and Austin Dillon met with media members after the exhibition race on February 6 and faced numerous questions about the Gen 7 cars and how they handle on short tracks. One particular question focused on the proposed changes to Auto Club Speedway and what the drivers would prefer.

“I think after what we saw today, the answer is probably yes,” Busch told media members on February 6, transcript courtesy of ASAP Sports. “I would prefer the two-mile [track], but I guarantee you it’s getting cut up, no question, after what we saw today.”

“Yeah, Kyle and I both know that Fontana is an awesome track,” Dillon added. “It’s a driver’s track. I mean, I think they’d have to go through a repave to keep it that way for these cars. They’ve already grinded it to nothing pretty much down the backstretch. Obviously, this car puts on a good show at short tracks, so that’s good.”

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