Changes in the Sprint Cup Series in 2010 will not be limited to driver movement or anticipated changes to the racecar. The lengths of two races are changing.

Auto Club Speedway announced Wednesday its second race, which falls during the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, will be shortened to 400 miles. And Phoenix International Raceway announced its race in April would increase to 375 miles.

Last October, Jimmie Johnson won the Pepsi 500, the fourth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, at 2-mile Auto Club Speedway. This year's race, rebranded the Pepsi Max 400, is scheduled for Oct. 10.

"As fans well know, conversations with NASCAR in regard to making Auto Club Speedway the most competitive track possible for NASCAR racing have been ongoing," Auto Club president Gillian Zucker said. "The results of some changes made by NASCAR, such as double-file restarts and tire changes, were seen at our inaugural Chase race, arguably one of the best races ever at the Speedway.

"This additional rules change to 400 miles is further evidence of NASCAR's commitment to racing excitement and to Southern California race fans."

A schedule change in 2009 moved a race at Fontana into the Chase for the first time since the introduction of NASCAR's playoff system in 2004. The 2009 Pepsi 500 took the place of the fall race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which moved outside the Chase to Labor Day weekend.

Phoenix, like Auto Club Speedway, is the site of two Cup races each year. The change at 1-mile PIR is for only the first race, the Subway Fresh Fit 600 on April 10. Last year's race was 500 kilometers, or 312 miles.

"Racing is as much about strategy as it is about pure speed," PIR president Bryan Sperber said. "This new distance ushers in a whole new race at PIR and will likely jumble the conventional wisdom about who can win at Phoenix."

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News=


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