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Auto Club Speedway’s name deal expires

The sun has finally set on Auto Club Speedway in more ways than one. On 15 March, eighteen days after the NASCAR Cup Series‘ final race weekend on its two-mile layout, the track’s naming rights deal with the American Automobile Association (AAA) ended after over fifteen years.

A new name has not been revealed, though the working identity of “Next Gen California” is now used on the track’s social media accounts while a page on NASCAR’s website, to which Auto Club Speedway’s website now redirects, refers to it as a “Next Gen NASCAR short track”.

“Auto Club has been a tremendous, longtime partner with our Fontana facility. Their naming rights agreement expired on March 15, 2023, but we look forward to engaging with them on the proposed Next Gen NASCAR short track,” reads an answer on NASCAR’s new Next Gen California webpage.

Although the two-mile Fontana, California, circuit has become a popular intermediate speedway, NASCAR outlined plans in 2020 to reconfigure it into a half-mile short track by 2023. Said plans were delayed by COVID-19 before being finalised in time to confirm it would be removed from the 2024 schedule for construction. NASCAR had sold 433 of 522 acres of speedway land by the time of the 2023 Pala Casino 400 race weekend, the last under the longer layout.

The renovation process has yet to begin due to, according to NASCAR, “multiple approvals that need to take place before pressing forward” with the track. NASCAR anticipates it will take approximately eighteen months, meaning Fontana would return to the calendar in 2025 at the soonest. The sanctioning body also acknowledged rumours about the short track not materialising at all and stated, “Planning continues for a Next Gen NASCAR short track on a portion of the current property NASCAR retained. Pending approvals, more details on this project will be revealed at the appropriate time.”

The track was formerly known as California Speedway from its opening in 1997 to 2008.

Kyle Busch is the final Cup winner on the two-mile speedway while John Hunter Nemechek claimed the last NASCAR race in general as the Xfinity Series’ Production Alliance Group 300 took place after Cup due to a rainout the day before.


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