Drivers give their takes on California dustup Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Jeff Gordon said he felt he had run out of options. David Ragan said he thought he could hold Gordon off. The result was a spin by Ragan during last weekend's Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway that brought out the day's first caution less than 25 laps into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Ragan, filling in for the fourth consecutive week for the injured Kyle Busch in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota, said Friday at Martinsville Speedway that "at the end of the day, I certainly got the bad end of the deal." "I was in the preferred line but Jeff was a little faster than me at the time," Ragan said before heading out to take part in the day’s lone practice at the 0.526-mile track. "Looking back at it, I probably would have just let him by knowing that I was going to be the one that was coming off Turn 4 backwards." The two were battling for seventh place when Gordon's Chevrolet drew close enough to the left-rear of Ragan's car to send it into a spin. The move came after Gordon had shot underneath, only to see the JGR driver flash back by on the high side of the 2-mile track. "We were moving forward at that time – both me and (teammate) Jimmie (Johnson)," the four-time Sprint Cup champion said. "We caught David. He was definitely struggling and trying to hang on until the pit stop where they could make some adjustments. He was letting off real early in the corner." Johnson cleared Ragan and had driven away when Gordon made his initial move to the inside. While he could have moved up the track and in front of Ragan, Gordon said he thought "I'm not going to do a slide job on the guy this early in the race. We'll see if he wants to race me hard or not.” And that, Gordon said, is what transpired. "He raced me hard on the outside," the Hendrick Motorsports driver said. "A couple laps later I got inside him again, and this time I crowded him a little bit more. He got all over my door; got me loose and so I basically said at that point that I was going to have to do it the hard way. "I know on the radio I said I may have to use the bumper, and I would have if I could have gotten to him and tapped him a little. But I didn't have to. I just got up to him and he was already pretty loose. I just took the air off of him to just get him to lift, but he didn't lift. He stayed in the gas and spun out." Ragan said he didn't give Gordon the spot because he felt "maybe once I got my track bar adjusted a little bit and kind of got my rhythm I felt like I might could pull away from him. "I did feel like once I could get my car going in the top lane that I could be a little better. Jeff was a little impatient. He didn't do anything wrong, he just didn't give me a break. And I didn't give him a break either. "What I can learn from that is it was early in the race, that one spot didn't matter. I could have had a little bit of give and take and the 24 could have had a little bit of give and take. It's one of those things that at the end of the day I got the bad end of the deal and that's sucked. I learned from it and moved on." The two spoke briefly after the race, the fifth of 36 that make up the 2015 Sprint Cup Series schedule and the final stop of a three-race West Coast swing that began in Las Vegas and moved to Phoenix before wrapping up at Auto Club "I don't expect somebody to just let me go by them, but when you're that much faster than somebody else, you have to make a choice: 'How do I want to race at this point and this stage in the race? Is it worth it to me?'" Gordon said Friday. "In my opinion and on a track that was that difficult to pass on, I was going to get up behind him. I never touched him, but I definitely took the air off of him." "Jeff's obviously a champion and a smart racer and you've got to give him some respect," Ragan said. "I raced him like I would anybody else. But at the beginning of a race we both have to have some give and take; he's lucky that he didn't get collected somehow. If I would have spun a little earlier in the corner and he couldn't turn down, he very well could have been collected too and it would have been a bad deal for both of us." Gordon eventually finished 10th while Ragan was 18th. He finished 17th in the season-opening Daytona 500 while driving for Front Row Motorsports , and has finished 18th, 22nd, 21st and 18th since taking over for Busch. "I feel like the last couple of weeks have been good," Ragan said. "I'm disappointed that we haven't gotten a good finish to show for (it), I think we've had some pretty good cars. "I think we've had a top-10 car every week besides Phoenix, and that's disappointing when you don't finish where you think you should – for several reasons, from mistakes on my behalf to just poor racing luck to situations like we had last week. "We could win one of these things, break off with two or three top-fives in a row and it wouldn't surprise me. But we've just got to put a whole weekend together." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kevin Harvick finishes second for eighth straight top-two finish RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings FONTANA, Calif. -- After Sunday's Auto Club 400 , there may be a warrant issued for Brad Keselowski . After all, the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford committed his own version of "Grand Theft Auto " at Auto Club Speedway -- he stole an entire race. Benefitting from a four-tire call on the last lap of regulation and two opportune cautions that extended the event nine laps beyond its scheduled distance, Keselowski passed polesitter Kurt Busch on the final lap (209) and pulled away to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season. Trying to make one last desperation run at Keselowski, Busch scraped the wall in the final corner at the two-mile track, allowing Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick to pass him for the runner-up spot. Keselowski arrived at the finish line .711 seconds ahead of Harvick, simultaneously taking the checkered flag and leading his first lap of the day. The 2012 champion, who led the series with six victories last year, recorded his first victory at Fontana -- and his first finish higher than 18th -- and the 17th of his career. "At the end, we caught some breaks, made the most of the breaks we caught," Keselowski said. "That was kind of the story of our race. It looked like we were probably going to finish sixth or seventh. That yellow came out (on Lap 185 for debris). We came in and pitted and drove up a little bit, then caught another yellow. Now what do we do? "So (crew chief) Paul (Wolfe) made the call to come down pit road and put four tires on. When he said that, I said, 'This can either go really good or really bad.' Didn't know which one it was going to be. Some guys stayed out, some guys took two tires, all different types of strategies on the restart. "We were able to find our way through the lanes and get to the front there, somehow end up in Victory Lane leading the last lap. Kind of a race car driver's dream. This is one we're going to sit back and go 'Wow!' for a while." Keselowski can call it a break, but it was theft, pure and simple. Aside from a stretch before the halfway point where Denny Hamlin got out front in clean air and led 56 laps, the cars of Busch and Harvick dominated the race, leading 65 and 34 laps, respectively. But Keselowski’s Wolfe made what turned out to be the winning call on Lap 200, after NASCAR called the sixth caution of the race because of debris in Turn 4. Opting for four new tires, where the vast majority of the field took right sides only for track position, Keselowski restarted 18th on the first attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish on Lap 203. The No. 2 Fusion quickly moved forward. When Kyle Larson lost his bumper cover during a melee on the restart, NASCAR threw caution No. 7, and by then, Keselowski was already up to seventh place. Using the new tires to full advantage, Keselowski shot into second place like a lightning bolt after a green-white-checkered restart on Lap 208. As Greg Biffle crashed on the frontstretch on the white-flag lap, Keselowski rocketed past Busch off Turn 2 and pulled away for the win. Busch came home third, followed by Richard Childress Racing teammates Paul Menard and Ryan Newman . Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Joey Logano , Martin Truex Jr ., Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon completed the top 10. Having won at Las Vegas and Phoenix in the previous two races, Harvick fell one position shy of completing a sweep of NASCAR's three-race West Coast swing, but he could commiserate with Busch, who was trying to win for the first time this season after serving a three-race suspension. "I hate that the 41 (Busch) wasn't able to hold on for the win there," said Harvick, who posted his eighth straight top-two finish, dating to last year, and extended his series lead over Logano to 28 points. "I would have loved to see those guys get their first win. "But you never know how the strategy is going to play out here. There's so many cars on the lead lap, you didn't want to get buried in there (by taking four tires). One little bad move for Brad, he would have been stuck in the middle of that traffic. But it all worked out for him. The second restart, he was in prime position up on the outside with fresh tires." Busch was disappointed but philosophical about the result. "It was a solid day," Busch said. "I don't know what we could have done different. We just got pinned in by the yellows and the sequence at the end on which tires we needed to have to optimize how many laps were left. "We had two tires; Keselowski had four. We didn't need that extra yellow at the end. That last restart, I just didn't get the job done, and I just got out muscled by Keselowski." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today All-time consecutive top-two finishes Streak Driver Year 11 Richard Petty 1975 10 Richard Petty 1971 10 Richard Petty 1967 9 Richard Petty 1964 8 Kevin Harvick 2014-15 8 David Pearson 1968
Driver earned career-best second-place finish in this race last year Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live FONTANA, Calif. -- Ending his first full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series as the 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year with eight top-fives and 17 top-10 finishes along with one Coors Light Pole Award, Kyle Larson is still searching for more -- a win. It was last year's Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Spedway when the California native's racing abilities truly began to shine. Rightfully earning the admiration of NASCAR veteran Kyle Busch , Larson came up second to Busch in the 2014 Auto Club 400 after fighting hard in the final laps. Busch was able hold Larson off as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver crossed the finish line .214 seconds ahead of the then-rookie, who had won the NASCAR XFINITY Series race just one day earlier. Now, with Busch being sidelined for injuries sustained in this year's opening XFINITY Series race at Daytona, it begs the question -- what driver will be holding off Larson for the lead this year? "There's a lot of good cars and (Kevin) Harvick has definitely been strong so far this season, so I'm sure he'll be the one to beat," Larson said on Friday at the Auto Club Speedway . Though 2014 Sprint Cup Series champion Harvick has displayed nothing but dominance so far this season, Larson has already earned himself two top-10 finishes and will start fifth in the field for Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX). "I like this place," Larson said. "It's tricky because of all the seams and it's got a pretty worn out surface and you have to search around for all the grip, but it seems to suit my driving style." The 22-year-old will get plenty of practice on the oldest asphalt on the Sprint Cup Series schedule when he runs in Saturday's Drive4Clots.com 300 (4 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1), the race that gave Larson the first XFINITY Series win of his career. But Larson's run in Saturday's XFINITY Series race will see him start in a backup car as the No. 42 driver spun out in opening practice after Mike Bliss dropped oil on the track, forcing Larson to make the move. "We should be OK," Larson said. "I got to make one lap in (the backup car) afterward and it felt fine so hats off to my guys for getting me back out there in that practice to make one lap, that gives me some extra confidence to qualify." Once the XFINITY Series race is over, Larson will have one thing on his mind: proving that he's the car to beat in Sunday's race. Larson's crew chief Chris Heroy jokingly recalled a request Larson made after coming up short to Busch last year. "He came on the radio and asked me if he could do a burnout," Heroy said after the 2014 Auto Club 400 . "I told him, 'Next time, if things work out.'" Perhaps Larson's "next time" is now. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
A stats-based look ahead to the fifth race of the 2015 Sprint Cup season Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Below is a look at some of the top statistical performers at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California going into the Auto Club 400 on FOX at 3:30 p.m. ET on March 24. AUTO CLUB -SPECIFIC STATISTICS Greg Biffle (No. 16 Clean Harbors Ford) · One win, four top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 17.8 · Average Running Position of 13.5, ninth-best · Driver Rating of 93.7, eighth-best · 217 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most · 1,243 Green Flag Passes, ninth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.601 mph, seventh-fastest · 2,484 Laps in the Top 15 (67.3%), eighth-most · 676 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 10th-most Clint Bowyer (No. 15 BlueDEF Toyota) · Two top fives, seven top 10s · Average finish of 12.9 · Average Running Position of 12.9, eighth-best · Driver Rating of 92.1, ninth-best · 74 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most · 1,211 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.347 mph, 11th-fastest · 1,918 Laps in the Top 15 (60.2%), 12th-most Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet) · One win, six top fives, 11 top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 11.9 · Average Running Position of 14.6, 12th-best · Driver Rating of 90.6, 12th-best · 94 Fastest Laps Run, 11th-most · 1,368 Green Flag Passes, third-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.271 mph, 12th-fastest · 2,401 Laps in the Top 15 (65.1%), ninth-most · 762 Quality Passes, fourth-most Carl Edwards (No. 19 Subway Toyota) · One win, eight top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 8.5 · Average Running Position of 12.5, seventh-best · Driver Rating of 97.8, fifth-best · 154 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.692 mph, fifth-fastest · 2,773 Laps in the Top 15 (75.1%), fourth-most · 754 Quality Passes, fifth-most Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AXALTA Chevrolet) · Three wins, 10 top fives, 11 top 10s; two poles · Average finish of 11.8 · Average Running Position of 10.2, fourth-best · Driver Rating of 97.3, sixth-best · 252 Fastest Laps Run, second-most · 1,391 Green Flag Passes, second-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.729 mph, fourth-fastest · 2,756 Laps in the Top 15 (74.7%), sixth-most · Series-high 831 Quality Passes Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota) · One top five, four top 10s; three poles · Average finish of 19.0 · Average Running Position of 13.9, 10th-best · Driver Rating of 90.7, 11th-best · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.376 mph, 10th-fastest · 1,926 Laps in the Top 15 (64.6%), 11th-most Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Jimmy John's/Budweiser Chevrolet) · One win, four top fives, nine top 10s · Average finish of 16.4 · Average Running Position of 12.5, sixth-best · Driver Rating of 94.7, seventh-best · 126 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most · 1,277 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.559 mph, eighth-fastest · 2,662 Laps in the Top 15 (72.1%), seventh-most · 742 Quality Passes, seventh-most Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Pro Services Chevrolet) · Five wins, 12 top fives, 14 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 6.7 · Series-best Average Running Position of 6.0 · Series-best Driver Rating of 120.1 · Series-high 504 Fastest Laps Run · Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 172.393 mph · Series-high 3,432 Laps in the Top 15 (93.0%) · 767 Quality Passes, third-most Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet) · One win, four top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 16.0 · Driver Rating of 91.5, 10th-best · 109 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most · 1,264 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most · 2,315 Laps in the Top 15 (62.7%), 10th-most · 738 Quality Passes, eighth-most Matt Kenseth (No. 20 DeWalt Toyota) · Three wins, nine top fives, 15 top 10s; one pole · Average finish of 9.8 · Average Running Position of 9.1, third-best · Driver Rating of 106.2, third-best · 137 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.784 mph, third-fastest · 3,066 Laps in the Top 15 (83.1%), second-most · 735 Quality Passes, ninth-most Tony Stewart (No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Chevrolet) · Two wins, seven top fives, 13 top 10s · Average finish of 13.5 · Average Running Position of 10.5, fifth-best · Driver Rating of 100.7, fourth-best · 226 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most · Average Green Flag Speed of 171.657 mph, sixth-fastest · 2,773 Laps in the Top 15 (75.1%), fourth-most · 752 Quality Passes, sixth-most The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2015 Top 16 at Auto Club Speedway Rank Driver Races Poles Wins Top Fives Top 10s DNFs Average Finish Driver Rating 1 Kevin Harvick 21 0 1 4 9 2 16.4 94.7 2 Joey Logano 8 0 0 2 2 0 18.4 78.1 3 Martin Truex Jr . 14 0 0 0 3 2 20.1 75.7 4 Kasey Kahne 18 1 1 4 10 3 16.0 91.5 5 AJ Allmendinger 10 0 0 0 1 1 19.1 71.5 6 Dale Earnhardt Jr . 22 0 0 5 6 5 19.5 78.1 7 Jimmie Johnson 20 1 5 12 14 0 6.7 120.1 8 Ryan Newman 20 1 0 4 8 3 17.4 81.4 9 Brad Keselowski 6 0 0 0 0 0 23.3 71.6 10 Matt Kenseth 22 1 3 9 15 0 9.8 106.2 11 Paul Menard 12 0 0 0 2 0 22.0 62.3 12 Casey Mears 18 0 0 0 2 1 22.3 65.8 13 Denny Hamlin 13 3 0 1 4 3 19.0 90.7 14 Aric Almirola 7 0 0 0 0 3 31.6 49.3 15 Clint Bowyer 14 0 0 2 7 1 12.9 92.1 16 Greg Biffle 20 0 1 4 7 3 17.8 93.7 * – Based on last 16 races at Auto Club Speedway (2005 – 2014). Auto Club Speedway Data Season Race #: 5 of 36 (03-22-15) Track Size : 2-miles Banking/Turns 1 & 2 : 14 degrees Banking/Turns 3 & 4 : 14 degrees Banking/Frontstretch : 11 degrees Banking/Backstretch : 3 degrees Frontstretch Length : 3,100 feet Backstretch Length : 2,500 feet Race Length : 200 laps / 400 miles Top 10 Driver Rating at Auto Club Jimmie Johnson ........................ 119.6 Kyle Busch ............................... 109.2 Matt Kenseth ............................. 105.5 Tony Stewart ............................. 102.0 Carl Edwards .............................. 98.5 Jeff Gordon ................................ 96.2 Kevin Harvick .............................. 95.8 Greg Biffle .................................. 95.5 Clint Bowyer ............................... 92.9 Kasey Kahne .............................. 91.4 Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (16 total) among active drivers at Auto Club Speedway Qualifying/Race Data 2014 pole winner : Matt Kenseth , Toyota 187.315 mph, 38.438 secs. 03-25-14 2014 race winner : Kyle Busch , Toyota 132.987 mph, (3:05:53), 03-27-14 Track qualifying record: Kyle Busch , Chevrolet 188.245 mph, 38.248 secs. 02-25-05 Track race record: Jeff Gordon , Chevrolet, 155.012 mph (3:13:32); 6-22-97 Tony Stewart , Chevrolet, 160.166 mph, (1:36:39; rain shortened), 03-25-12 At Auto Club Speedway : History · Groundbreaking for California Speedway , as Auto Club Speedway was originally known, took place in November 1995. · The first race at Auto Club Speedway was a NASCAR K&N Pro Series, West race won by Ken Schrader on June 21, 1997. · The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 22, 1997 and won by Jeff Gordon . · September 2004 was the first night race at Auto Club Speedway and that also was the first year both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series ran two races in a season there. · The track name was changed to Auto Club Speedway (ACS) in February 2008. Notebook · There have been 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Auto Club Speedway , the track hosted one NSCS race a season from 1997-2003, then two races per season from 2004-2010. In 2011 Auto Club Speedway returned to a single race season. · 137 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club ; 108 in more than one. · Jeff Gordon leads the series in starts at Auto Club Speedway with 25. · Joe Nemechek won the inaugural Coors Light pole (1997) with a speed of 183.015 mph (39.341 secs.). · 16 drivers have poles at Auto Club Speedway , led by Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch with three each. · Denny Hamlin (2011, 2012), Kurt Busch (2006 sweep) and Jamie McMurray (2010 sweep) are the three drivers to win consecutive poles at Auto Club Speedway . · Youngest ACS pole winner: Kyle Busch (2/27/2005 – 19 years, 9 months, 25 days). · Oldest ACS pole winner: Mike Skinner (4/30/2000 – 42 years, 10 months, 2 days). · 14 different drivers have won at ACS, led by Jimmie Johnson (five). Three other drivers have multiple wins at Auto Club Speedway : Jeff Gordon , Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth each have three wins, Tony Stewart has two. · Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Auto Club Speedway with nine, followed by Roush Fenway Racing with seven and Stewart Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing each have two. · California-native Jimmie Johnson became the first and only driver to win from the pole at Auto Club Speedway in 2008. · Only two ACS races have been won from the front row both by six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson , fall of 2008 (pole); and the fall of 2007 (second-place). · Nine of the 25 (36%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Auto Club Speedway have been won from a top-five starting position. · 13 of the 25 (52%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Auto Club Speedway have been won from a top-10 starting position. · Seven of the 24 (28%) races have been won from a starting position outside the top 20. · The deepest in the field that a race winner has started was 31st, by Matt Kenseth in the spring of 2006. · The most proficient starting position at ACS is pretty random. Three starting positions (third, ninth and 24 th ) have produced three winners each. · Youngest ACS winner: Kyle Busch (09/04/2005 – 20 years, 4 months, 2 days). · Oldest ACS winner: Rusty Wallace (04/29/2001 – 44 years, 8 months, 15 days). · Jimmie Johnson leads the series in runner-up finishes at Auto Club Speedway with five; followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon with four. · Jimmie Johnson leads the series in top-five finishes at Auto Club Speedway with 12; followed by Jeff Gordon (10), Matt Kenseth (nine), Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch (eight each). · Matt Kenseth leads the series in top-10 finishes with 15; followed by Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards (14 each) and Tony Stewart (13). · Jimmie Johnson leads the series in average finish at ACS with a 6.650. · Jimmie Johnson (6.6) , Carl Edwards (8.5) and Matt Kenseth (9.8) are the only three active drivers with an average finish in the top 10 at Auto Club Speedway . · There have been three green-white-checkered finishes at Auto Club Speedway : 2005 (250/254), 2006 (250/251) and 2014 (200/206). · Three active drivers have posted their first NSCS Coors Light pole at Auto Club Speedway : Carl Edwards (9/4/2005) and Joe Nemechek (6/22/1997). Kyle Busch won his first pole (2/27/05) and first series win (9/4/05) at ACS in 2005. · Greg Biffle (4/28/02) and J.J. Yeley (9/5/04) made their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career starts at Auto Club Speedway . · Jimmie Johnson posted his first series career win at Auto Club Speedway on April 28, 2002. · Jimmie Johnson (fall of 2009 – spring of 2010) and Kyle Busch (2013, 2014) are the only drivers to win consecutive races at Auto Club Speedway . · 12 of the 14 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers who have won at Auto Club Speedway participated in at least two or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jeff Gordon (1997 – inaugural event) and Jimmie Johnson (2002) are the only drivers to win at ACS in their first appearance. · Tony Stewart competed at Auto Club Speedway 18 times before winning in the fall of 2010; the longest span of any the 14 winners. Only Stewart (18) and Kevin Harvick (17) have made 10 or more attempts before their first win at Auto Club Speedway . · Dale Earnhardt Jr . leads all active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Auto Club Speedway without visiting Victory Lane at 22. · Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Auto Club Speedway was the (3/27/2011) race won by Kevin Harvick with a MOV of 0.144 second over Jimmie Johnson . · Three reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions have gone on to win at Auto Club Speedway the following season: Tony Stewart (2012), Jeff Gordon (1999) and Jimmie Johnson - the only one to do it multiple times (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010). · Two drivers have won at Auto Club Speedway and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in the same season: Jeff Gordon (1997) and Jimmie Johnson (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010). · Two female drivers have competed at Auto Club Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Shawna Robinson and Danica Patrick . ** Note: Robinson first attempted to qualify for the race at ACS on 4/29/2001 but failed to make the event. Driver Starting Position Finishing Position Date Shawna Robinson 43 42 4/28/2002 Danica Patrick 40 26 3/24/2013 Danica Patrick 27 14 3/23/2014 · Only three car numbers have produced three or more Auto Club Speedway NSCS wins: Car Number – Drivers – (Years) o No. 48 – Jimmie Johnson (2002, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010) o No. 17 – Matt Kenseth (2006, 2007 and 2009) o No . 24 – Jeff Gordon (1997, 1999 and 2004) NASCAR in California · There have been 137 NASCAR Sprint Cup races among 15 different tracks in California. · Auto Club Speedway has hosted the second most NSCS events among active California tracks. Track Name City NSCS Riverside International Raceway Riverside 48 Sonoma Raceway Sonoma 26 Auto Club Speedway Fontana
Hamlin, Keselowski round out top three on Auto Club leaderboard in first session
Track plans to completely cover frontstretch, backstretch with SAFER barrier
Catch up quickly before Sunday's STP 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live What: 66th annual STP 500 Where: Martinsville Speedway , Martinsville, Virginia When: Sunday, March 29, 2015 TV/Radio: FOX Sports 1, Motor Racing Network Time: 1:13 p.m. ET Distance: 500 laps (263 miles) Pit Road Speed: 30 mph Caution Car Speed: 35 mph Estimated Pit Window: 125-135 laps, based on fuel mileage On The Front Row " Full starting lineup " See all 43 cars 1. Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford (98.461 mph) 2. Ryan Newman , Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet (98.328 mph) To The Rear Casey Mears , Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet (transmission); Regan Smith , Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet (driver change, subbing for Kyle Larson ); Justin Allgaier , HScott Motorsports No. 51 Chevrolet (backup) Failed To Qualify Brendan Gaughan , Premium Motorsports No. 62 Chevrolet; Ron Hornaday Jr ., TMG No. 30 Chevrolet. Fastest In Practice First practice: Ryan Newman , Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet (97.835 mph) " Full results Second practice: Denny Hamlin , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota (97.113 mph) " Full results Final Practice: Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet (97.098 mph) " Full results It's Not Where You Start After qualifying first or second in two of the last three races, defending Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick will roll off from the No. 17 position at Martinsville. He's qualified worse this season, starting 18th at Las Vegas. For the record, he won Las Vegas. Remember When? A Ford team has not finished first or second at Martinsville since 2002, going 0-for 24 since Kurt Busch won the fall race here while driving for Roush Fenway Racing . Chevrolet teams have won the last eight races at the 0.526-mile track. Hey Buddy, Move It "There is a lot of blocking that goes on (at Martinsville) and nobody wants go give up the inside, but the guy behind can control that a little bit. You can just get to their bumper and move them. … The guy that chops your nose off a lot going into say, Turn 3, you are just going to move him. … It is frustrating at times, but you definitely want to be on the offensive here rather than the defensive." – Paul Menard , RCR No. 27 Chevrolet He Can See The Front Tony Stewart will start sixth at Martinsville, his best starting spot since the fall race at Texas last year. He's also coming off his best finish of the season, a 14th-place result last week at Auto Club Speedway . The three-time Martinsville winner says earning a good starting spot "is half the battle" on the tiny track. "If you can just get a good pit spot and … a decent starting spot to where you do not have to beat the thing to death trying to get to the front, that's half the battle," he said. Pole or Bust Pole winners have won two of the last five Martinsville races, which might be good news for No. 1 qualifier Joey Logano . But drivers starting outside the top-20 have won the last two – Kurt Busch won from 22nd last spring while Dale Earnhardt Jr . won from 23rd in the fall race. Winless and counting Yes, it's been quite a while since a Toyota team won a Sprint Cup Series points races, 31 races in fact, and while Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin says a victory at Martinsville would be a big boost, it wouldn't be a cure-all. "It's been tough and it's been a hard year for the organization and the manufacturer," he said. "Not that a win here would just satisfy all those needs -- we still know that realistically we've got a lot of work to do, but it definitely would take a lot of pressure off because right now we're all in that hornets' nest of the bubble spot if this thing comes down to points." An Off-Weekend? Let's Go Racing Chase Elliott , the defending XFINITY Series champion and the son of NASCAR Hall of Fame member Bill Elliott , is making his Sprint Cup Series debut today. Elliott will start 27th in the No. 25 Chevrolet fielded by Hendrick Motorsports . "You just want to put together 500 solid laps on Sunday and try to run all the laps and hope we can have a good day," Elliott, 19, said. The XFINITY Series has the weekend off, returning to action Friday, April 10 at Texas Motor Speedway . Defending STP 500 Champion Kurt Busch , Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet Driver Rating Best driver rating average at Martinsville Speedway based on past 10 years: Jimmie Johnson , Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet (122.5) Jeff Gordon , Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet (119.8) Denny Hamlin , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota (110.1) Former Martinsville Speedway Winners In Field Jeff Gordon , Jimmie Johnson 8; Denny Hamlin 4; Tony Stewart 3; Kurt Busch 2; Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kevin Harvick , Ryan Newman 1 MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR reminds teams of severe penalties Vote: Who will win at Martinsville? " Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Related: Crew chief Childers loves chatter about tires MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- NASCAR gave teams a reminder Friday morning about the severity of tampering with tires, a hot-button issue after the sanctioning body sent the Goodyears from select teams for an independent audit the last two weeks. Hendrick Motorsports crew chiefs Alan Gustafson and Chad Knaus, making an early Friday media appearance at Martinsville Speedway , addressed the issue, saying their frantic schedules on race weekends prevented them from witnessing any prohibited behavior first-hand. Still, NASCAR's confiscations and the rumblings at the track made the issue hard to ignore. "It's hard to speculate because that's all I can do, but in my experience there's a lot of smoke around that, right?" said Gustafson, who oversees preparation for Jeff Gordon 's No. 24 Chevrolet. "There's a lot of talk, there's a lot of dialogue, there's a lot of rumors in the garage. So yeah, I think some people think something is going on. And is NASCAR reacting to that or do they feel uncomfortable with what's going on? I don't know that answer. "I do think that it is something that's on the forefront of a lot of people's minds and obviously NASCAR is trying to make sure that we're all on a level playing field and if anyone is violating that that they'll pay the price, which they've reminded us this morning is very, very stiff. That's all I know, but anything beyond that speculation beside the fact is that it's a hot topic obviously." NASCAR took the tires from two teams -- those of points leader Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano -- after the season's fourth Sprint Cup Series race, at Phoenix International Raceway . Harvick's tires were taken again for independent study after last weekend's race at Auto Club Speedway , joining those from the cars driven by fellow Chevrolet drivers Kurt Busch , Paul Menard and Ryan Newman . Officials issued no penalties or expanded details from their findings, and NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell said in a recent appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the "audits" were routine. WATCH: Drivers sound off on tire tampering talk Any infraction involving manipulating tires falls under the heading of a P5 penalty -- the second-highest severity in the NASCAR deterrence system, which was introduced before the 2014 season. The NASCAR Rule Book provides examples of P5 penalties, including a specific passage about tires in Section 126.96.36.199.1.a, which states, "Effecting, modifying and/or altering the standard tires in any way, other than through authorized means such as tire pressure adjustments within the recommended range, permitted tire cooling when mounted on the race vehicle; or heat-cycling on the race vehicle on the race track earlier in the Event." The punishment for a P5 violation includes the loss of 50 points in the driver and team owner standings, a fine ranging from $75,000 to $125,000, a six-race suspension for the crew chief, probation until the end of the calendar year for all suspended crewmembers, and any other applicable penalties. The practice of teams potentially "needling" tires with miniscule holes, Gustafson said, would "be a very difficult thing to police." The tactic is intended to provide a slow release of air, which would allow tire pressures to remain more consistent -- while improving grip and durability -- over the course of a green-flag run. Ordinarily, pressures rise as the tires heat up, changing the handling characteristics of the car. Gordon said that he has been a longtime advocate for NASCAR adopting bleeder valves on its tires to better regulate pressure. "I came from sprint cars where they're just built into the wheel," Gordon said. "You set them. Those might not be advanced enough for what we need in a Cup car and a Cup tire, but it just makes sense. It's crazy what we do with air pressures and these big, heavy cars build the air pressures up so much that we're always trying to start them real low, which always causes issues for Goodyear and the teams. They just increase, increase, increase. "So it makes sense to me that we have bleeder valves, but because we don't, it's pushing the teams to do things. … I've heard about a lot of things with valve caps and poking holes in tires for years, but I've never seen it done, have never had proof that it was done, so it's very interesting to me that NASCAR is investigating this further and I look forward to seeing what comes out of it. "If they find a way to stop that, if it's really going on, I get excited about our chances because I know that we're not doing it, so it will close the gap for us to whoever may be doing it. WATCH: Chris Rice explains the issue Gordon was at the center of another TireGate in September 1998, when rival team owner Jack Roush accused his Hendrick team of using illegal, chemically treated tires to gain an advantage. He said Friday that if Ray Evernham, his crew chief, was doing something illegal back then, he wasn't aware of it. No team has been outed as a rule-breaker yet, but the murmurs of unusual happenings in the garage persist. Gordon said when the rumor mill churns as loudly as its current tenor, there's something to it -- just how it's being done is the question. "I don't know if there's anything or not," said Knaus, crew chief for Hendrick's No. 48 Chevy driven by Jimmie Johnson -- like Gordon, an eight-time Martinsville winner. "I'm busy on Sunday and I don't have a lot of friends in the garage. I don't talk to anybody else, either, so it's OK. My friends are outside of racing. So I don't know what's going on. I know I sent ( Sprint Cup managing director) Richard Buck a text and I said, 'Hey man, can we poke holes in our tires? Is that OK?' and he sent me a text back that said, 'Absolutely not.' So that's all I know." Denny Hamlin said that NASCAR told all crew chiefs at Phoenix International Raceway last fall to discontinue the tactic, but since it deals with one of the three so-called sacred areas -- engine, tires and fuel -- the penalties should be fittingly severe. "If it's out there and they know about it, you should be gone forever," said Hamlin, a four-time Martinsville winner. "I mean, that's a major, major, major thing. This isn't like the old rodeo days of being able to go out there and run a big motor or soak the tires. This is a professional sport and when people alter tires that's a big, big deal. Definitely no room for it in the sport, that's for sure. Hope they clamp down on that if they do find it, and if they find it multiple times with somebody, they should have a permanent vacation somewhere." That said, Hamlin acknowledged that trying to make the distinction between a natural tire leak and a man-made one is difficult. "They'll figure out a way, and whether it will be with someone else taking a look at the tires to try to figure it out, they'll find it," Hamlin said of NASCAR officials. "And when they do, that person when they feel NASCAR getting hot on them, they're going to stop doing it and that's maybe when you'll see some performance differences. You never know." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Crew chiefs Alan Gustafson and Chad Knaus talk about NASCAR sending tires used by teams at Auto Club Speedway last weekend for further evaluation.
Jeff Gordon goes into detail about why he helped spin-out David Ragan at Auto Club Speedway .