Defending champion Kevin Harvick said Friday that he believes many racetracks that host two Sprint Cup races a year should actually host just one race per season.
“I think some markets are just one-race markets,” Harvick said at Auto Club Speedway. “I would say 90 percent of them are one-race markets, but a lot of them still have two races.
“And you just see those mediocre crowds. I think when people know that you’re only coming one time a year, you have to go to that one particular race.”
Harvick used Auto Club Speedway as an example. The track scaled back from two races per season to one in 2011.
“This race track is a great example of a lot of lessons that a lot of people obviously don’t pay attention to that run race tracks,” Harvick said.
Auto Club Speedway hosted one race per season from 1997 through 2003. In 2004, it expanded to two races per season and remained that way through 2010.
Scheduling conflicts with other sporting events in the Los Angeles area, declining fan interest and weather conditions contributed to the track’s attendance decline.
That eventually prompted International Speedway Corp. to move one of Auto Club Speedway’s dates to Kansas Speedway in 2011 to give that track a second Sprint Cup date.
Harvick praised ACS for reducing to just one race per season.
“Sometimes, if you take one really great thing and you can really easily make them into two mediocres, and we do that all the time in our sport,” Harvick said. “I don’t understand that with race tracks a lot of the time, but this one has come full circle.
“I think when you look at the crowds that we’ve had (at Auto Club Speedway) over the last couple of years, they’ve been really good. The racing has been really good here as that track surface has aged.
“As a driver you look forward to coming here now because it’s one of those race tracks where you can run all over the place and the cars can slide around and you’re going to have fun from the driver’s seat. So that bleeds over into the perception that the fans get as well, because everybody is talking about enjoying racing on this particular track.”