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NASCAR - Sprint Cup - Auto Club 400 Preview

From The Sports Network

 
DATE: Sunday, March 24
SITE: Auto Club Speedway (1997) -- Fontana, Calif.
TRACK: 2-mile oval - 3,100 feet (Frontstretch); 2,500 feet (Backstretch)
CAPACITY: 90,988 (Grandstand Seating)
ANNUAL: 17th
TELEVISION: FOX
RADIO: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio
START TIME: 3 p.m. ET
QUALIFYING TIME: Friday, March 22/7:10 p.m. ET
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Tony Stewart
RUNNER-UP: Kyle Busch
POLE WINNER: Denny Hamlin (finished 11)
LAPS: 200
MILES: 400
QUALIFYING RECORD: Kyle Busch, 2005 (188.425 mph)
RACE RECORD: Jeff Gordon, 1997 (155.012 mph)
 
2012 Finish
FinishDriverStartFinishDriverStart
1Tony Stewart96Greg Biffle4
2Kyle Busch27Ryan Newman6
3Dale Earnhardt Jr.148Martin Truex Jr.13
4Kevin Harvick79Kurt Busch23
5Carl Edwards1210Jimmie Johnson10
2012 Auto Club 400 Facts and Figures
AVERAGE SPEED: 160.166 mph
TIME OF RACE: 1 hr., 36 mins., 39 secs. (rain-shortened, 258 miles)
MARGIN OF VICTORY: Caution
CAUTION FLAGS: 1 for 5 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 9 among 5 drivers
POLE WINNER: Denny Hamlin (186.403 mph)
Past Auto Club 400 Winners (Starting Position) Car -- Speed
2012 -- Tony Stewart (9) -- Chevrolet -- 160.166 mph (rain-shortened)
2011 -- Kevin Harvick (24) -- Chevrolet -- 150.849 mph
2010 -- Jimmie Johnson (7) -- Chevrolet -- 141.911 mph
2009 -- Matt Kenseth (24) -- Ford -- 135.839 mph
2008 -- Carl Edwards (9) -- Ford -- 132.704 mph
2007 -- Matt Kenseth (25) -- Ford -- 138.451 mph
2006 -- Matt Kenseth (31) -- Ford -- 147.852 mph
2005 -- Greg Biffle (5) -- Ford -- 139.697 mph
2004 -- Jeff Gordon (16) -- Chevrolet -- 137.268 mph
2003 -- Kurt Busch (16) -- Ford -- 140.111 mph
2002 -- Jimmie Johnson (4) -- Chevrolet -- 150.088 mph
2001 -- Rusty Wallace (19) -- Ford -- 143.118 mph
2000 -- Jeremy Mayfield (24) -- Ford -- 149.378 mph
1999 -- Jeff Gordon (5) -- Chevrolet -- 150.276 mph
1998 -- Mark Martin (3) -- Ford -- 140.220 mph
1997 -- Jeff Gordon (3) -- Chevrolet -- 155.012 mph
 
NOTE: Formerly called California 500 by NAPA (1997-1999), NAPA Auto Parts 500
(2000-02), Auto Club 500 (2003-10). Race changed from 500 to 400 miles
in 2011.
 
Last Race Results
RACE: Food City 500 (March 17)
SITE: Bristol Motor Speedway -- Bristol, Tenn.
MILES: 266.5
LAPS: 500
WINNER: Kasey Kahne
RUNNER-UP: Kyle Busch
THIRD: Brad Keselowski
FOURTH: Kurt Busch
FIFTH: Clint Bowyer
POLE WINNER: Kyle Busch (finished 2)
TIME OF RACE: 2 hrs., 53 mins., 25 secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 92.206 mph
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 1.700 secs.
CAUTION FLAGS: 10 for 66 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 17 among 10 drivers
LAP LEADERS: Ky. Busch 1-55; P. Menard 56-56; D. Ragan 57-58; K. Kahne 59-63;
D. Hamlin 64-145; K. Kahne 146-153; Ku. Busch 154-154; D. Hamlin
155-189; K. Kahne 190-236; Ky. Busch 237-237; M. Kenseth 238-322;
J. Logano 323-323; J. Gordon 324-389; K. Kahne 390-396; B.
Keselowski 397-445; K. Kahne 446-447; B. Keselowski 448-460; K.
Kahne 461-500.
Auto Club 400 Entry List
CarDriver, HometownCar/Name
1Jamie McMurray (Joplin, MO)Chevrolet/Bass Pro Shops
2Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hills, MI)Ford/Miller Lite
5Kasey Kahne (Enumclaw, WA)Chevrolet/Farmers Insurance
7Dave Blaney (Hartford, OH)Chevrolet/Sany
9Marcos Ambrose (Launceston, Australia)Ford/Mac Tools
10Danica Patrick (Roscoe, IL)Chevrolet/GoDaddy.com
11Denny Hamlin (Chesterfield, VA)Toyota/FedEx Express
13Casey Mears (Bakersfield, CA)Ford/GEICO
14 *Tony Stewart (Columbus, IN)Chevrolet/Rush Truck Centers
15Clint Bowyer (Emporia, KS)Toyota/5-Hour Energy
16Greg Biffle (Vancouver, WA)Ford/3M Window Film
17Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Olive Branch, MS)Ford/NOS
18Kyle Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Toyota/Interstate Batteries
19Mike Bliss (Milwaukie, OR)Toyota/Plinker Tactical
20Matt Kenseth (Cambridge, WI)Toyota/Dollar General
22Joey Logano (Middletown, CT)Ford/AAA Southern California
24Jeff Gordon (Vallejo, CA)Chevrolet/Drive to End Hunger
27Paul Menard (Eau Claire, WI)Chevrolet/Menards/Certain Teed
29Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield, CA)Chevrolet/Jimmy John's
30David Stremme (South Bend, IN)Toyota/Swan Racing
31Jeff Burton (South Boston, VA)Chevrolet/Caterpillar
32Timmy Hill (Port Tobacco, MD)Ford/TBA
33Landon Cassill (Fairfax, IA)Chevrolet/Little Joe's Autos
34David Ragan (Unadilla, GA)Ford/TBA
35Josh Wise (Riverside, CA)Ford/MDS Transport
36J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, AZ)Chevrolet/Accell Construction
38David Gilliland (Riverside, CA)Ford/Long John Silver's
39Ryan Newman (South Bend, IN)Chevrolet/Wix Filters
42Juan Pablo Montoya (Bogota, Colombia)Chevrolet/Target
43Aric Almirola (Tampa, FL)Ford/Farmland
44Scott Riggs (Bahama, NC)Ford/No Label Watches
47Bobby Labonte (Corpus Christi, TX)Toyota/Bush's Beans
48Jimmie Johnson (El Cajon, CA)Chevrolet/Lowe's
51A.J. Allmendinger (Los Gatos, CA)Chevrolet/Phoenix Construction
55Mark Martin (Batesville, AR)Toyota/Aaron's Dream Machine
56Martin Truex Jr. (Mayetta, NJ)Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts
78Kurt Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Chevrolet/Furniture Row
83David Reutimann (Zephyrhills, FL)Toyota/Burger King/Dr. Pepper
87Joe Nemechek (Lakeland, FL)Toyota/Maddie's Place
88Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Kannapolis, NC)Chevrolet/National Guard
93Travis Kvapil (Janesville, WI)Toyota/Burger King/Dr. Pepper
98Michael McDowell (Glendale, AZ)Ford/Phil Parsons Racing
99Carl Edwards (Columbia, MO)Ford/Subway
 
* - Defending champion
 
Leading Contenders (Finish the last nine years)
Driver200420052006200720082009201020112012
Tony Stewart161743878913Won
Kyle Busch---23109431432
Dale Earnhardt Jr19321140403932123
Kevin Harvick9629178382Won4
Carl Edwards---5329Won71365
Greg Biffle33Won421515410116
Ryan Newman39201210283657
Martin Truex Jr------154262739218
Jimmie Johnson222329Won210
Denny Hamlin------1211416293911
Mark Martin11795164042012
Clint Bowyer------14619198713
Kasey Kahne134043891234914
Matt Kenseth426WonWon5Won7416
Brad Keselowski------------------212618
Joey Logano---------------2652524
Jeff GordonWon3013232201826
 
Mover of the Week
Dale Earnhardt Jr. - started 32 and finished 6
 
Sports Network Selections
Pick to Win - Jimmie Johnson
Last Week's Pick to Win (Brad Keselowski) - Finished 3
 
NOTES:
The Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway is the fifth race on the 2013 Sprint Cup Series schedule.

Formerly known as California Speedway, the groundbreaking for this 2-mile oval took place in November 1995. The first race there was a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event won by Ken Schrader on June 21, 1997.

This track has 14 degrees of banking in all four of its turns as well as 11 degrees of banking on the frontstretch and 3 degrees on the backstretch.

ACS has been on the Sprint Cup schedule each year since 1997. Jeff Gordon won the inaugural race there 16 years ago.

There have been 23 Sprint Cup races held at Auto Club Speedway. The track hosted one Cup race each season from 1997-2003 and then two events per season from 2004-10. ACS returned to a single-race season two years ago.

Jimmie Johnson, who hails from nearby El Cajon, Calif., holds the track record for most wins with five. Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth have the second most victories there with three each, followed by Tony Stewart with two wins. Johnson also leads all drivers with the most top-5 finishes (12) and most top-10s (14) at this track.

Stewart won last year's race at Auto Club Speedway, which was shortened due to rain. With showers on the way, Stewart passed Kyle Busch on lap 85. He held the top spot when the rain arrived on lap 125. The precipitation intensified shortly after, prompting NASCAR officials to halt the race and then later calling it after 129 of 200 laps were completed. It was the first time a race at this track had to be shortened due to inclement weather.

Johnson is the only driver to win from the pole at Auto Club Speedway, doing so on Aug. 31, 2008.

Kurt Busch holds the track record for most poles with three. Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, Brian Vickers and Gordon have won two poles each there.

Three drivers have competed in all 23 Cup races at Auto Club Speedway: Jeff Burton, Bobby Labonte and Gordon.

The closest margin of victory for a Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway occurred in 2011 when Kevin Harvick beat Johnson to the finish line by 0.144 seconds.

Two drivers who are competing in this weekend's race made their first career Cup starts at this track: Greg Biffle (April 2002) and J.J. Yeley (September 2004).

Three drivers entered in this race claimed their maiden pole in the series there: Joe Nemechek (June 1997), Kyle Busch (February 2005) and Carl Edwards (September 2005).

Johnson and Kyle Busch are those drivers who scored their first career Cup victories at Auto Club Speedway. Johnson's inaugural win came on April 28, 2002. Busch won there on Sept. 4, 2005.

Kyle Busch is the youngest driver to win a Cup race at Auto Club Speedway. He won the fall event there in '05 when he was 20 years, 4 months and 2 days old. When Rusty Wallace was 44 years, 8 months and 15 days old, he became the oldest driver to win at this track on April 29, 2001.

The next race is the April 7 STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Ryan Newman is the defending race winner.

03/19 16:06:21 ET

As of March 19, 2013, at 04:06 PM ET