NASCAR racing returns to Fontana on Feb. 26-27 | Sports

Auto racing excitement is returning to Fontana.

After a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19 concerns, the top stars of NASCAR are coming back to Auto Club Speedway for the WISE Power 400 weekend on Feb. 26-27.

This will be the 25th anniversary celebration for the track, which held its first event in 1997.

“Our fans have waited a long time for this, and we’re ready to celebrate with them,” said Auto Club Speedway President Dave Allen. “The five-wide racing and high speeds produced by our 2-mile oval have provided us with so many good memories through the years, and we can’t wait to make more of them in 2022.”

The question is how many fans will turn out for the local track, which had seen declining attendance in recent years.

NASCAR officials are hopeful that momentum is building for the sport in Southern California, based on a positive response to the first-ever Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Feb. 6.

That exhibition, which was won by Joey Logano, drew more than 50,000 fans along with millions of television viewers.

The Fontana race follows a week after the Daytona 500, at which rookie Austin Cindric achieved his first NASCAR Cup Series victory.

The WISE Power 400 will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday and will be televised by FOX.

Andrew Whitworth, the Los Angeles Rams’ tackle and National Football League’s Walter Payton Man of the Year, will be the grand marshal for the race.

Tickets are on sale at

—– WHENEVER the NASCAR drivers come to town, some of them give back to the local community during special events.

This week, Smithfield and NASCAR driver Aric Almirola teamed up for a second time to surprise the students at Joe Baca Middle School in Bloomington with a $10,000 donation to further support the development of the school’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Lab that they helped get off the ground.

In 2020, Almirola visited the school to speak to the students and present a check donation to support the creation of the lab. The school dove right in to building the problem-based learning environment for the kids, with a focus on mechanical and electrical engineering, robotics, and coding.

The lab currently features racing memorabilia along with printed images of NASCAR cars/paint schemes as decor, and strives to add a racing-related center with software for students to design their own cars and race them — bringing all of the current focuses together.

On Feb. 22, the dream became a reality as the check was shared with the school on Almirola’s behalf. The donation will go toward the purchase of iRacing software, along with high-quality equipment to utilize the platform, opening the door for a customizable experience for the kids to design personal cars and get in the virtual driver’s seat.

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