The west coast swing, as it was labeled, offered up a final twist in the swing. It was Fontana, CA and the Auto Club 400 which went just a little over with a double-shot green-white-checker finish. It was the 2nd GWC that threw the twist in the end that was almost the first GWC…

They had raced all afternoon and it was, for the largest part, pole-sitter Kurt Busch and team mate Kevin Harvick leading the field. Harvick was after a west coast sweep having already won in Las Vegas and Phoenix. Busch was out to roll momentum into a late start for his season as Fontana was only his second time out in the #41.

The western twist came with pit strategies on late race pit stops. Two or four tires or none at all as many only had 10 or 11 laps on. Race off the line and Stewart and Gordon were left back as the newer tires pushed out front with Harvick chasing down Busch.

Coming up on the scheduled finish Kyle Larson was bumped a bit into scraping the wall and leaving his rear body panel behind which set up the first green-white-chedkered finish. The race out put Kurt Busch out in front again and it looked like his second race of the season was going to put him into Chase contention with a win.


Another debris caution set the stage for the second green-white-checkered run. The debris might have been a piece of car or it might have been an official Auto Club Speedway soda cup. Either way, the restart again put Kurt Busch out front with Harvick close behind.


Brad Keselowski and the #2 came from what seemed like nowhere to get by Harvick and challenge Kurt Busch. Busch went wide and loose driving hard giving Keselowski the line by while Greg Biffle was spinning back in the field. White flag lap and no caution and the race to the line went to the #2 with Harvick in second and Busch regaining a straight line to finish third.

Keselowski in California. The way the day had been for the Stewart-Haas duel of the #4 and #41 having the #2 in Victory Lane wasn’t on the radar.

Until the last lap which, apparently, is the one that really matters.

It was a Toyota day in California for the Auto Club 400.

More or less…

A Toyota started on the pole with Matt Kenseth in the Dollar General #20. A Toyota won it with Kyle Busch in the Interstate Batteries #18.

Between these Toyota landmarks were 27 lead changes and 9 cautions. The final laps saw the caution that set in motion a green-white-checkered finish which also played out in the critical lead change.

It was Jimmie Johnson’s race to loose with a comfortable lead over team mate Jeff Gordon. Johnson’s tires, however, did not have the will to go on and the left front shredded under pressure. He managed to keep the #48 in a straight line and limped to the pits. (more…)

California… Don’t the commercials for tourism show a kind of laid back attitude…?

Not at Fontana on race weekend!

Racing was on the level for the bulk of it. Commentary during the race brought out some of the Twitter tension from Bristol as Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano raced close ar points earlier. That all came to a head in the final laps as the two were up front and trading spots. Hamlin went on the outside and got around. Logano went low. Side by side. Logano’s tires were not as fresh. The #22 got loose on the side draft, touched the #11, and put Logano back against the wall and Hamlin shot towards the infield wall. The jolt shook the #11 into the air and around. Denny Hamlin was out of the car afterward without assistance but was immediately place in medical care for back pain.

The latest news from Joe Gibbs Racing is that Hamlin is still in the hospital, alert and being checked further for back issues.

Logano was able to cross the line with a rear damaged #22 for third behind Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Was the wreck a follow up to the tensions that ran through Bristol or a result of two drivers pushing for the win? (more…)