Next Up: Auto Club 400 at Fontana, California
The NASCAR tour continues on to stop number three on its 2016 “West Coast Swing,” moving to the big and fast two-mile D-shaped oval at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. With its sweeping 3100-foot front stretch and turns banked at 14 degrees, this track is capable of producing some incredible speeds, as evidenced by Kurt Busch’s last year pole speed of 185.142 and his brother Kyle’s all-time record pole speed of 188.425 set back in 2005. Practice sessions for the Sprint Cup cars are scheduled to begin Friday at 10:30 am, with knockout pole qualifying set for 4:45 pm.
There have been 26 Cup-level events at Fontana since the track joined the NASCAR schedule in 1997, with Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth on the record books as the winningest drivers with three each. Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch are the only other repeat winners, and Johnson holds the mark for wins from the pole (that has only happened twice). Last year, it was Brad Keselowski edging out Kevin Harvick by a margin of .710 seconds, with Kurt Busch, Paul Menard, and Ryan Newman rounding out the top 5. In a bit of a statistical anomaly, all 43 starters were still running at the end of the event.
The Xfinity series is also competing this weekend at Auto Club Speedway, where Kevin Harvick will be out to defend his win over Brendan Gaughan in last year’s edition of this event. Harvick dominated that event, leading 100 of the 150 laps and finishing 3.317 seconds ahead of Gaughan. Erik Jones, Chase Elliott, and eventual series champion Chris Buescher completed the top 5. Xfinity practice is scheduled to begin at noon on Friday, with qualifying set for 9:15 et Saturday morning.
For a complete schedule of activities at the track, check out Auto Club’s website.