Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California - image: NASCAREnlarge Photo
This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the two-mile tri-oval in Fontana, California, for the Auto Club 400. While many of the Sprint Cup races hit the same track at different times of the year, the Auto Club 400 represents the series’ sole annual stop in Fontana.
Blame it on attendance; despite the track’s reasonable proximity to Los Angeles, a second race never drew sufficient fans to make the venture profitable. Californians, it appears, don’t embrace NASCAR in quite the same way that fans in the South do.
The Auto Club 400 is a fairly new race on the calendar, joining the Sprint Cup schedule back in 1997. That means that most of the races’s past winners, excluding Jeremy Mayfield
and Rusty Wallace, are still active drivers.
Jeff Gordon has won here three times (1997, 1999 and 2004), as has Matt Kenseth (2006, 2007 and 2009). Jimmie Johnson
is a two-time winner (2002 and 2010), while last year’s race went to Tony Stewart.
That makes it awfully hard to pick a favorite for a win on Sunday, although Roush Racing (now Roush Fenway Racing) has pulled off more wins here than any other team (seven, versus Hendrick Motorsports’ five).
That means we wouldn’t rule out Carl Edwards or Greg Biffle for the win in Fontana. Edwards snapped a 70-race winless streak
by taking the checkered flag in Phoenix, while Biffle has run well enough this season to be fifth in current points.
On the other hand, Hendrick Motorsports has looked good this year, putting up wins in Daytona and Bristol. Three of the team’s four drivers are ranked in the top ten for points so far this year, and all four have looked capable of winning races.
Kyle Busch has looked strong this year, as have Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. In fact, if we were the betting type, we’d say all three drivers are overdue for a win, so we wouldn’t rule them out either.
Look for Sunday to bring partly cloudy skies, with temperatures in the mid-70s. If you can’t be in Fontana for the race, you can catch it live on Fox television at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time.