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NASCAR - Nationwide - Royal Purple 300 Preview

From The Sports Network

DATE: Saturday, March 24th
SITE: Auto Club Speedway (1997) -- Fontana, California
TRACK: two-mile oval - 3,100 feet (Frontstretch); 2,500 feet (Backstretch)
CAPACITY: 84,000 (Grandstand Seating)
ANNUAL: 16th
ANNOUNCERS: Allen Bestwick, Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree
RADIO: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio
START TIME: 5:30 p.m. (ET)/Green Flag: 5:46 p.m. (ET)
RUNNER-UP: Carl Edwards
POLE WINNER: Carl Edwards (Finished 2nd)
LAPS: 150
MILES: 300
QUALIFYING RECORD: Tony Stewart, 2005 (185.941 m.p.h.)
RACE RECORD: Hank Parker Jr, 2001 (155.957 m.p.h.)
TOTAL PURSE: $1,242,513 (2011 figures)
PAYOUTS: 1st Place - $61,445; 2nd Place - $57,675; 3rd Place - $44,700
2011 Finish
1Kyle Busch76Trevor Bayne9
2Carl Edwards17Joey Logano4
3Kevin Harvick28Mark Martin8
4Ricky Stenhouse Jr129Aric Almirola3
5Elliott Sadler3410Brad Keselowski5
2011 Royal Purple 300 Facts and Figures
AVERAGE SPEED: 140.772 m.p.h.
TIME OF RACE: 2 hours, 7 minutes, 52 seconds
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.713 second
CAUTION FLAGS: 5 for 19 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 21 among 8 drivers
POLE WINNER: Carl Edwards (174.838 m.p.h.)
Past Royal Purple 300 Winners (Starting Position) Car -- Speed
2011 -- Kyle Busch (7th) -- Toyota -- 140.772 m.p.h.
2010 -- Kyle Busch (2nd) -- Toyota -- 143.886 m.p.h.
2009 -- Kyle Busch (2nd) -- Toyota -- 138.479 m.p.h.
2008 -- Tony Stewart (2nd) -- Toyota -- 141.769 m.p.h.
2007 -- Matt Kenseth (2nd) -- Ford -- 127.871 m.p.h.
2006 -- Greg Biffle (3rd) -- Ford -- 147.501 m.p.h.
2005 -- Mark Martin (3rd) -- Ford -- 117.251 m.p.h.
2004 -- Greg Biffle (15th) -- Ford -- 138.978 m.p.h.
2003 -- Matt Kenseth (19th) -- Ford -- 129.419 m.p.h.
2002 -- Scott Riggs (6th) -- Ford -- 131.403 m.p.h.
2001 -- Hank Parker Jr (26th) -- Chevrolet -- 155.957 m.p.h. (race record)
2000 -- Matt Kenseth (8th) -- Chevrolet -- 126.375 m.p.h.
1999 -- Matt Kenseth (2nd) -- Chevrolet -- 119.960 m.p.h.
1998 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr (2nd) -- Chevrolet -- 148.597 m.p.h.
1997 -- Todd Bodine (28th) -- Pontiac -- 145.083 m.p.h.
NOTE: Formerly called Kenwood 300 (1997-98), Auto Club 300 (1999-2002), 300 (2003), Stater Bros. 300 (2004-10).
Past Royal Purple 300 Pole Winners (Finish)
2011 -- Carl Edwards -- 2nd
2010 -- Joey Logano -- 5th
2009 -- Carl Edwards -- 4th
2008 -- None -- Weather
2007 -- Dave Blaney -- 10th
2006 -- Carl Edwards -- 3rd
2005 -- Tony Stewart -- 29th
2004 -- Jason Leffler -- 34th
2003 -- Kevin Harvick -- 3rd
2002 -- None -- Weather
2001 -- Bobby Hamilton Jr -- 14th
2000 -- Jeff Green -- 3rd
1999 -- None -- Weather
1998 -- Robert Pressley -- 14th
1997 -- Steve Park -- 2nd
Last Race Results
RACE: Ford EcoBoost 300 (March 17th)
SITE: Bristol Motor Speedway -- Bristol, Tennessee
MILES: 159.9
LAPS: 300
WINNER: Elliott Sadler
RUNNER-UP: Kasey Kahne
THIRD: Brad Keselowski
FOURTH: Joey Logano
FIFTH: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
POLE WINNER: Joey Logano (Finished 4th)
TIME OF RACE: 1 hour, 41 minutes, 16 seconds
AVERAGE SPEED: 94.740 m.p.h.
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 1.159 seconds
CAUTION FLAGS: 4 for 30 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 5 among 5 drivers
LAP LEADERS: J Logano 1-66; K. Busch 67-106; J. Logano 107-159; T. Bayne
160-223; R. Stenhouse Jr. 224-264; E. Sadler 265-300.
Royal Purple 300 Entry List
CarDriver, HometownCar/Name
01Mike Wallace (St. Louis, MO)Chevrolet/G&K Services
2Elliott Sadler (Emporia, VA)Chevrolet/Pierre Drive-Thru
3Austin Dillon (Lewisville, NC)Chevrolet/Advocare
4Daryl Harr (St. Albert, Canada)Chevrolet/iWorld
6Ricky Stenhouse Jr (Olive Brnch,MS)Ford/Roush Fenway Racing
7Danica Patrick (Roscoe, IL)Chevrolet/
08Tim Andrews (Concord, NC)Ford/Randy Hill Racing
09Kenny Wallace (St. Louis, MO)Toyota/TBA
10Jeff Green (Owensboro, KY)Toyota/TBA
11Brian Scott (Boise, ID)Toyota/Dollar General
12Sam Hornish Jr. (Defiance, OH)Dodge/Alliance Truck Parts
14Eric McClure (Chilhowie, VA)Toyota/Hefty Reynolds Wrap
18Joey Logano (Middletown, CT)Toyota/Translux
19Tayler Malsam (Seattle WA)Toyota/G-Oil
22Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hls, MI)Dodge/Discount Tire
23Robert Richardson Jr (McKinney, TX)Chevrolet/North Texas Pipe
24Benny Gordon (DuBois, PA)Toyota/Kentucky Antler Company/VSI
28J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, AZ)Chevrolet/TBA
30James Buescher (Plano, TX)Chevrolet/Deft Finishings
31Justin Allgaier (Riverton, IL)Chevrolet/Brandt
33Brendan Gaughan (Las Vegas, NV)Chevrolet/South Point Casino
38Brad Sweet (Grass Valley, CA)Chevrolet/Great Clips
39Joey Gase (Cedar Rapids, IA)Ford/Go Green Racing
40Erik Darnell (Beach Park, FL)Chevrolet/Curtis Key Plumbing
41Blake Koch (West Palm Beach, FL)Ford/Rise Up and Register
42Josh Wise (Riverside, CA)Chevrolet/Curtis Key Plumbing
43Michael Annett (Des Moines, IA)Ford/Pilot Flying J
44Mike Bliss (Milwaukie, OR)Toyota/TBA
46Chase Miller (Denver, NC)Chevrolet/Curtis Key Plumbing
47Scott Speed (Manteca, CA)Chevrolet/Curtis Key Plumbing
50T.J. Bell (Reno, VA)Chevrolet/TBA
51Jeremy Clements (Spartanburg, SC)Chevrolet/Clements Automotive
52Tim Schendel (Sparta, WI)Chevrolet/Metro Ministries
54 *Kyle Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Toyota/Monster Energy
60Trevor Bayne (Knoxville, TN)Ford/Roush Fenway Racing
70Johanna Long (Pensacola, FL)Chevrolet/TBA
81Jason Bowles (Ontario, CA)Dodge/American Majority
87Joe Nemechek (Lakeland, FL)Toyota/AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet
88Cole Whitt (Alpine, CA)Chevrolet/
89Morgan Shepherd (Conover, NC)Chevrolet/TBA
* - defending champion.
Leading Contenders (Finish the last nine years)
Kyle Busch---7th---23rd3rd2ndWonWonWon
Ricky Stenhouse Jr---------------------39th4th
Elliott Sadler---------32nd---27th------5th
Trevor Bayne---------------------11th6th
Joey Logano------------------3rd5th7th
Brad Keselowski------------32nd32nd27th3rd10th
Justin Allgaier------------------14th9th12th
Brendan Gaughan------------------9th24th---
James Buescher---------------------13th---
Danica Patrick---------------------31st---
Sam Hornish Jr.------------35th------------
Austin Dillon---------------------------
Mover of the Week
Jamie Dick - Started in the 36th position and finished 22nd.
Sports Network Selections
Pick to Win - Kyle Busch
Darkhorse - Danica Patrick
Last Week's Pick to Win (Kyle Busch) - Finished 17th
Last Week's Darkhorse (Blake Koch) - Finished 38th
Last season, Kyle Busch gambled with a two-tire change only during a late- race pit stop and then overcame a last-lap encounter with the wall to win the Royal Purple 300 at Auto Club Speedway.

Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick dominated most of the race, as the two drivers combined for 112 laps led in the 150-lap affair at the two-mile Southern California track. But Busch took over the top position during a round of green- flag pit stops with 17 laps remaining. When Busch pitted from the lead with 14 laps to go, his pit crew, led by crew chief Jason Ratcliff, put on two new tires, while the other leaders took four new ones during their stops.

The victory was the third of eight on the 2011 season. Although winless this season, Busch owns 51 Nationwide titles, first on the all-time list.

Busch outran Greg Biffle to the finish line to capture the 2010 running of this race. Busch started second on the grid and led for just three laps early in the race. Pole sitter Joey Logano dominated, leading five times for 130 laps, but Biffle took the lead with just two laps remaining. Busch then passed Biffle for the lead coming out of the final turn on the last lap and win by 0.051 seconds for his third victory at California and the 31st of his career in NASCAR's second-tier series. The win was the first of 13 2010 titles.

Starting second on the grid again, Busch raced to victory in 2009, as he defeated Kevin Harvick by less than a second for his 22nd career Nationwide Series title. Busch dominated the race, leading three times for 143 laps, including the final 16 for a 0.068-second margin of victory.

Busch has dominated Auto Club Speedway, winning on the Nationwide circuit, five of the last six races. In 13 starts in this series, Busch has five wins and 10 top-10's with an average finish of 7.154.

Neither rain nor his competition could slow Tony Stewart down in 2008, as he raced to victory in the weather-delayed Royal Purple 300. The victory, his fourth Nationwide Series title, came at the expense of Busch, as he posted a 2.408 seconds victory over the No.32 Toyota driver. Stewart dominated this race, leading three times for all but 14 of the 150 laps. He took the lead for good on lap 111. Pole sitter Jeff Burton placed eighth.

After starting second, Matt Kenseth won this race in 2007, as he edged Casey Mears by less than a second. Kenseth led three times for a race-high 48 laps to post his 22nd career Nationwide Series victory. Jeff Burton, who led for 46 laps, held the advantage through lap 128. But Kenseth reclaimed the lead from there and held it for the win. Pole sitter Dave Blaney, who led for the first 16 laps, placed 10th.

Toyota snapped Ford's six-year run in California with its win in 2008 and has won at this track the last seven races. Chevrolet won this event four straight years from 1998-2001. Busch, Kenseth and Biffle are the only multiple winners of this race. Kenseth posted four wins (1999, 2000, '03, '07), Biffle has won twice (2004, '06) and Busch three straight (2009-11). The pole sitter has never won the spring race at California, but the second position won the race four straight seasons (2007-10).

After holding down the second spot in the 2010 schedule, this week's race moves to the fifth position on the Nationwide Series docket for the second straight season. There have been 22 races held at ACS with the pole sitter winning three fall races (2008, 2009, 2010), but none in the spring.

The Nationwide Series takes a two-week break before returning to action again on April 13 with the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. Carl Edwards won last year's race there.

03/21 09:59:01 ET

As of March 21, 2012, at 09:59 AM ET