Back in California! A much bigger stage and a much faster pace and points were on the line for the Wise Power 400 at Auto Club Speedway. The pre-season Clash at the LA Coliseum was a nice preview but the speed at Fontana with those “5 wide” grooves is something else.

Racing at Auto Club Speedway was wide open and track wide

Race day did not disappoint. Drivers put cars all over the track looking for advantage just a turn or two from the starts. It was a pit road showcase as the age of the pavement put this NextGen suspension package to the test. A dozen cautions put the crews in the spotlight with a pit stop routine that still may have a kink or two. Restarts were a scramble to grab a position or set up in a groove for a possible advantage move next lap around.

Brad Keselowsk #6i, Bubba Wallace #23 and Austin Cindric #2 scramble through a mash up at Fontana

This one was unpredictable. Just as it looked like Tyler Reddick was on the fast track with two stage wins, tire issues and contact with Byron in the #24 put him on pit road with heavy damage.

Defending Cup Champion Kyle Larson was able to put the #5 in the position to run for the win. He only had 28 laps with the field behind him and one of those was the one that really mattered. Austin Dillon, Eric Jones, Daniel Suárez and Joey Logano rounded out the top 5.

Hendrick Cars #5 Kyle Larson – Winner at Wise Power 400

The Daytona 500 was a good one but the race at Fontana gave us a variety of speed, action and strategy that we hope carries this season. Lead changes and pack tangles gave the drivers a real challenge and the fans had the benefit of seeing it all play out.

This race showed us that NASCAR has a show and it’s a good one! There are more races on big tracks before we get a real look at this NextGen package on the short tracks of Virginia and Tennessee. Vegas is up next with Phoenix to follow. We’ll even get a early road course in at Circuit Of The Americas.

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.

We thought the American Le Mans race opening the Baltimore Grand Prix was a smash and crash event…

However, the IndyCar folks showed them up a bit…

If you have ever driven city streets, any city, then you know why many people opt for SUV’s in an urban environment. Watching the races from Baltimore brought on the hope that the drivers had good lumbar support.

We’ve watched rally car races with less air time… (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…)

Have you taken the time to see where they are racing or do you simply check the TV to see when the race is on…? All we do is plant ourselves on the couch and click the remote but those folks at NASCAR have to arrange all that stuff. At first glance it looks as if they arrange it with a dart board and blindfolds…

Race 1 – Daytona. Fine… Tradition and all that. The Daytona 500 starts the season and always will.

Race 2 – Phoenix. Let’s roll right by Texas to get there…

Race 3 – Las Vegas. Hey! Just up the road! Cool!

Race 4 – Bristol. What…? OK… Road trip!

Race 5 – Fontana…? Where is that? Next to Los Angeles…? California…? We were practically there in Vegas!

Race 6 – Martinsville. Back to Virginia…? What day is it?

Race 7 – Texas. What…? Why didn’t we stop there first and then go to Martinsville? It was on the way!

and so on…

Yes. Scheduling is a nightmare. There is the balance of tradition with newer facilities. There is the consideration of weather and temperature. There is the case for keeping the racing interesting with a variety of track length and technical skill. There is that dart board that doesn’t get used nearly enough… (more…)