Well here we are once again, getting ready for another race out west. And here in Indiana, this song seems true today, as a cold snap has once again gripped the state, for the next couple of days at least. But, with March Madness and today’s exciting trip to Auto Club Speedway, it’s a good day to stay inside and keep the remote nearby.
The forecast is much better today. So there shouldn’t be any reason to use the lights at the speedway. But they have them, so there shouldn’t be any reason to shorten today’s activities either. Auto Club Speedway would be considered a veteran if it were a driver. It’s a track that has seen it’s share of action. There have been 24 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Auto Club Speedway, the track hosted one NSCS race a season from 1997-2003, then two races per season from 2004-2010. In 2011 the track returned to a single-race season.
Jeff Gordon was victorious in the first visit out here. With neither Jeff Burton or Bobby Labonte in the field today, Gordon will end the day as the only driver to have competed in all 25 Sprint Cup races here.
I know it’s a big shock, but Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with five wins here. Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth each have three wins, while Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch have two victories here. Both Johnson and Busch picked up their first career victories here, just like rookie Kyle Larson did in yesterday’s Nationwide race. Check this celebration out.
Larson will start today’s race in the 11th position, and has shown he is going to be competitive right off the bat. Both Larson and Austin Dillon have a top-ten finish and are comfortably in the top-25. Remember, in the new format, you only have to be in the top-30 in points and have a victory. That is very possible for these two young guns as we have 22 races left before the cut off at Richmond in September.
Jimmie Johnson is the only driver to win from the front row here at Auto Club Speedway. He has done it twice, once from the pole in 2008, and once from second in 2007. That doesn’t bode extremely well for Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski. ACS is a wide, multi-groove racetrack that is aging into a track where drivers use all of it. We should see plenty of passing, and I wouldn’t count out the three drivers that have to start from the back. (Paul Menard, Martin Truex Jr., and Joey Logano)
Only nine of the previous 24 races have been won from the top-five starting positions. However 13 have been won from the top-ten. Obviously starting up front is a source of pride, and a prime pit selection is important, but it is not necessary. Seven races have been won from outside the top-20. In an interesting twist on productivity, three starting positions have produced the most winners with three wins apiece. Complete with the driver starting there, they are; third (Johnson), ninth (Carl Edwards), and 24th (Greg Biffle). All three of those drivers would be favorites anyway, so that should make for some interesting strategy.
Johnson has the most wins, the most seconds, the most top-fives, and is tied with Kenseth for the most top-tens. He leads all drivers with a 5.7 average finish here. BREAKING NEWS…he’s good here.
Edwards also has a top-ten average finish here, with an 8.4. Those are the only two drivers who can boast that statistic.
Gordon (1997) and Johnson (2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010) are the only drivers to win here, and win the title in the same season. Yes, that’s four times.
Not much else to add before this one except, watch out for that Jimmie Johnson fellow. He is pretty good here. I’m picking Kyle Busch, but I wouldn’t be surprised if 48 is standing tall once again after this one. Honestly, as a NASCAR fan, how can you ever be surprised when he wins.
Catch all the action at 2 PM on 100.3 FM KORN Country, or listen online at www.korncountry.com.