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Weather Cancels Saturday Activities; Xfinity Race Postponed to Sunday at Fontana

A long and draining race day for the Xfinity Series. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

FONTANA, Calif. – Hollywood couldn’t have scripted a crazy day of maddening weather at Auto Club Speedway. After sequences of rain and snow showers, the Production Alliance Group 300 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series was postponed to Sunday at 8:00 p.m. ET on FS2, following the Cup Series race.

The madness began when track activity for both the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series was altered early Saturday, resulting in no practice or qualifying sessions.

Due to the 7:30 a.m. local time announcement, Sunday’s starting lineup for the Pala Casino 400 was set by the metric rule. Therefore, Christopher Bell will lead the 36-car field to green for the final 200-lap event in Fontana.

“I would’ve rather have had practice. Just to know what we had but I was good either way,” said Bell. “Winning the pole by the formula deal was pretty gratifying.”

Although he’ll start first, there are some concerns among the field about weepers which could impact the track product and perhaps impact Sunday’s race. Defending Cup Series champion Joey Logano was one of several drivers who voiced concern.

“I’m not as concerned about the cold temperatures as I am about the track weeping. That’s probably what a lot of drivers are more nervous about. Older track surface, lot of cracks in it,” said Logano. “I would assume we’re probably going to start the race with some wet spots on the racetrack. I don’t know if they’re going to get them all.

“It’s so hard to do it because the track is so wide. The racing groove is so wide. I would assume as the race goes, the very bottom is probably going to be weeping the whole race. At what point do we call it good enough? That’s going to be the tricky part.”

A closed Cup garage on a bizarre Saturday in Fontana. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

As for the Xfinity Series race, Daytona winner Austin Hill will lead the 38-car field to green in the Production Alliance Group 300. Two drivers failed to qualify — those being Ryan Vargas and Garrett Smithley. Ross Chastain said during Saturday’s Zoom call that he’s has full intentions of running both races as he’ll drive the No. 91 Chevrolet for DGM Racing.

Weather conditions continued to be bizarre. In what felt like a morning straight out of The Day After Tomorrow, very cold rain transitioned to snow for nearly 30 minutes. Once the snow went away and the rain dissipated, the mighty crew of air-drying machines hit the two-mile oval before 12:15 p.m.

Pacific Northwest vibes in Southern California. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

The drying process consisted of eight jet dryers, seven Air Tundras, two Buffalo blowers, a sweeper and two track vacuums — equating to a total of 20 vehicles. Suddenly, a little sun peak arrived at the track and the mountains slowly became visible.

That all changed at 1:45 p.m., when some sprinkles arrived with more rain expected to hit the track once again. As it was all day, unpredictable weather followed as the sun arrived a few more times. Even with the minor inconvenience, driver introductions were scheduled for 2:40 p.m. local time, as long as conditions remained dry.

The garage became frantic as drivers and crew members rushed to get the cars onto pit road. Some drivers never expected to arrive and had to dash their way to the track, including Riley Herbst, who had gotten pizza 30 minutes away from Auto Club.

As soon as the engines fired, the rain returned.

The 38-car field completed a few pace laps before the track began to change color. NASCAR ordered the cars to return to pit road. Everyone waited on pit road for an update, hoping that the race could commence. Several minutes past 4 p.m., NASCAR called for the postponement and a doubleheader on Sunday.

The Pala Casino 400 is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX. Kyle Larson is the defending race winner.

Throughout my young motorsports media career, my number-one goal is to be a personnel that can be flexible with my writing and photography in the world of NASCAR and INDYCAR. Content delivery is vital because this is my main passion and what keeps me going. On the side, I also do sports production ranging from Seattle Kraken hockey to the 2023 NCAA Women's March Madness. All for the love of the game. With four National Motorsports Press Association photography awards, I'm not slowing down anytime soon. Outside of media, I'm super vocal about my musical tastes that goes from Metallica to HAIM. At times, there might be some Paul Thomas Anderson and Southern California references in my social media.

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