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NASCAR to change Fontana dateUPDATE This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. The NASCAR Sprint Cup race held Labor Day weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana will be moved to October starting next year, speedway President Gillian Zucker said Monday. This year's race, the Pepsi 500, is Aug. 31 but that will change to Oct. 11 in 2009, as part of a three-track swap on the Cup schedule, Zucker said. The two-mile Auto Club Speedway oval also stages a Cup race in late February.
The shift would mean that the Fontana track would play host to one of the 10 late-season Chase for the Cup races that determine which driver wins stock-car racing's premier championship.
Moving the race to October also would probably give the Fontana track relief from the often scorching heat of Labor Day weekend. The heat is widely viewed as one reason why the 565-acre facility hasn't been able to sell all of its 92,000 seats in recent years.
"We couldn't be more thrilled, mostly for the race fans," Zucker said, adding that "to be in NASCAR's form of the playoffs [with the Chase] is something that's very special."
Under the changes, Auto Club Speedway (formerly California Speedway) would receive Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway's date in early to mid-October, Atlanta Motor Speedway would get the Labor Day weekend race and Talladega would receive Atlanta's fall date later in October, Zucker said.
The shift is scheduled to be formally announced today at a news conference with NASCAR President Mike Helton, Zucker and officials of the other tracks. NASCAR declined comment Monday.
05/25/08 Speculation is mounting that NASCAR's Labor Day race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana could be moved to October, starting next year.
The track has struggled to sell all of its 92,000 seats on Labor Day weekend partly because of the weekend's typically hot temperatures, and has petitioned NASCAR for another date.
One proposal being weighed is a three-track swap, in which Fontana would receive Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway's date in October, Atlanta Motor Speedway would get the Labor Day race and Talladega would receive Atlanta's fall date in October, the Charlotte Observer reported.
That would put the California race in the middle of the 10-race Chase for the Cup that decides NASCAR's premier championship.
But NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said the sanctioning body is still meeting with officials for all tracks and that next year's schedule "is still being determined." NASCAR hopes to announce the schedule by September, he added.
Auto Club Speedway President Gillian Zucker said "nothing has been decided yet" and that the three-track swap idea "is one of several scenarios that I have heard are being discussed."
She also said "it's possible that [Labor Day] date will remain the same" next year but is hopeful of moving the race.
"Everyone is in agreement that a later date for the second [Fontana] race is in the best interests of the sport," Zucker said. Her track also stages a Cup race in late February. Los Angeles Times
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