NASCAR: What does the future hold for Fontana?

FONTANA, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 26: Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 Sirius XM Toyota, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr, driver of the #47 Ralphs/Tree Top Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Cup Series Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway on February 26, 2023 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

With construction taking Fontana off the NASCAR schedule for the next two seasons, how will the schedule look moving forward?

After announcing its plan several years ago, Fontana is set to finally begin its extensive reconfiguration project later this year. The track, opened in 1997, will transform from its current two-mile configuration to a short track. The reconfiguration is expected to take at least one year, possibly more. This means that NASCAR will not return to Fontana until 2025 at the earliest.

Drivers have been critical of the reconfiguration as Fontana was widely considered one of their favorite tracks to race on. It is reminiscent of their complaints on Atlanta’s reconfiguration to a superspeedway last year. Despite the complaints, NASCAR elected to still reconfigure Fontana because they believe a short track will provide more entertaining racing. They also completed a major real estate deal to sell land on the track site since the new configuration will take up less space.

On Sunday, drivers performed a silent protest of sorts by putting on a great event. There were exciting restarts, constant lead changes, and passing throughout the pack. The improved intermediate racing provided by the Next Gen car appears to fit Fontana well. It is a shame this was the last time fans will be able to enjoy it.

What track will replace Fontana in 2024 & 2025?

Although only time will tell if the reconfiguration will be a success for the sport, the question of what track will replace Fontana for the next two seasons still remains. NASCAR has made it known they want to keep a presence in California, but what could this look like before Fontana is ready to go? Could the LA Coliseum house a regular-season race instead of the Clash? If the Chicago Street Course is a success this year, could a street course around Los Angeles be possible?

Another non-California possibility is North Wilkesboro, which is hosting the All-Star Race this season, having a regular season race.

With the introduction of several tracks over the past few years, the NASCAR schedule has been a hot topic. This will continue for the next two seasons as Fontana undergoes its reconfiguration.

Featured Image Credit: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images