NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Heads to Fontana

NASCAR+Sprint+Cup+Series+Heads+to+Fontana

This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series continue their #NASCARGoesWest campaign, heading to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, before heading back to the East Coast and Martinsville Speedway next weekend.

Kevin Harvick, as it has been well documented, has won the past two races (Las Vegas and Phoenix) in the Sprint Cup Series and has finished in the top two in the past seven races dating back to last season. But after last week, it looks like he may have a new guy who is on his tail for wins — and his name is Kurt Busch.

Busch, who was reinstated from his indefinite suspension prior to the weekend activities at Phoenix last weekend getting underway, ended up finishing in fifth place, after running second to his SHR teammate, Kevin Harvick, for most of the race.

And his hot streak did not cool down when they came to Fontana this weekend, as he put his No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet on the pole for Sunday’s Auto Club 400, with a speed of 185.142 MPH (38.889 seconds).  He told reporters that it was difficult for him to get used to preserving his tires for three sessions, however, he did it pretty well, earning his 17th career pole and his first since 2013 at Darlington Raceway.

But company is close behind, as the aforementioned Harvick will start right next to him in second place, nabbing his first career front row start at Auto Club Speedway. Matt Kenseth, David Ragan and Kyle Larson round out the top five starting positions for Sunday’s race.

Larson, who won the Xfinity Series race here last season and finished second in the Cup Series race to Kyle Busch, is one of the favorites coming into the race. He is yet to break into victory lane in the Cup Series, but nobody would be surprised if he ended up in the winner’s circle come Sunday.

Two more favorites have already been mentioned, but they are Kurt Busch and Harvick. Busch was fastest in practice on Friday afternoon and has momentum, along with his teammate Harvick, who won the Xfinity Series race on Saturday. Harvick dominated the race, leading 100 of 150 laps, en route to his second Xfinity win of the season.

Kyle Busch won this race last season, but he won’t be on track this week due to his leg injury that he is still recovering from. Joe Gibbs Racing is yet to get into victory lane this season, but with a lineup of Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, and for the time being, David Ragan, it’s only a matter of time before they grab a checkered flag.

But there was also some sad news that came out shortly before the first practice sessions began this weekend. Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 55 car for Michael Waltrip Racing, who missed the first two races of the season due to having heart surgery to fix his recurring blood clot issues, was pulled out of the car for that same reason. It was revealed that Vickers’ doctor has advised him to go on a certain medication that will not allow him to race while he is on it. So for this weekend, Brett Moffitt will substitute for Vickers at MWR, and Vickers will focus on getting healthy.

This move starts another weekend of driver musical chairs, so to speak. Ragan (full-time driver for the No. 34 car) was tabbed by JGR to substitute for Kyle Busch in the No. 18 car, meaning that Moffitt was tabbed by Front Row Motorsports to drive the No. 34 car. But due to the circumstances this weekend regarding Vickers, MRW has taken Moffitt from FRM and now Chris Buescher, the driver of the No. 60 car for Roush Fenway Racing in the Xfinity Series, will drive the No. 34 car this weekend. Phew. Got that? Confusing, I know. But not to worry, hopefully all the normal drivers will be in their normal seats with their normal teams soon.

What would a race weekend be without some drama? After all, we are in Hollywood.  Greg Biffle, a driver who has been with Roush Fenway Racing his entire career, told reporters on national television that RFR is “dying a slow death.”

That was somewhat of a shock to most people. Not the statement, but the fact that someone, moreover an established driver for the organization, said it without hesitation.

Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne have not been performing up to their own standards this season, and I expect Jack Roush to address this problem immediately.

You can catch the Auto Club 400 on FOX this Sunday, with c the green flag scheduled for just past 3:45 p.m. EST.

Will Harvick have a Hollywood ending to #NASCARGoesWest? Or will his teammate Kurt Busch spoil the party and write his own alternate ending? What about a guy like Martin Truex Jr., with the little team that could, getting into victory lane for the second time in his career? The beauty of this sport, is that you truly never know.