It won’t come as a large surprise if Sunday’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway evolves into a battle between Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson.
That scenario has developed in the past two seasons, and the two Chevrolet drivers have come out of the bouts 50-50. Johnson won in the spring of 2010 as Harvick whacked the wall late in the race, and Harvick edged Johnson by .144 of a second last year in an entertaining last-lap battle.
"The last two years, the race has pretty much come down to us and the No. 48 team (Johnson),” Harvick said. “The year before I ran into the wall, and last year we won. That was good to come back and rebound from the mistake from 2010, and being able to race with Jimmie was a lot of fun, especially at the California race track. That's been a great race track for us over the last several years."
It’s also been a good one for Johnson, who owns five ACS wins, No. 1 among all drivers. He has a lofty average finish of 5.1 at the track.
The track hosted two Cup races per season from 2004 through 2010 before dropping back to one event last year. Stewart won the second race in 2010.
Weekend track activity is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. (ET) Friday with a 90-minute Sprint Cup practice.
Nationwide entries in Saturday’s Royal Purple 300 are scheduled to practice at 4:40 p.m. Friday. Sprint Cup qualifying is scheduled at 7 p.m.
Two rounds of Sprint Cup practice are scheduled Saturday – at 12:30 p.m. and 3:50 p.m. Nationwide qualifying is set for 1:30 p.m., with the Royal Purple 300 scheduled to begin at 5:30.
Sunday’s Sprint Cup race, the fifth of the season, is scheduled at 3 p.m.
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 30 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.