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Auto Club Speedway by the numbers
BUY TICKETS: Celebrate Auto Club's 20th anniversary RELATED: Full weekend schedule Jimmie Johnson was driving a Superman car and wearing a cape the last time he saw Victory Lane at Auto Club Speedway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series' stop there in 2016. It's appropriate since he almost owns the place. Johnson has six wins at Auto Club, spanning a decade and a half. He also has five runner-up finishes, an impressive average finishing place of 6.5 and has led 980 laps around the 2-mile circuit in Fontana, California. Roger Penske has a stake in the place as well, having been one of the architects, alongside Les "Coach" Richter. The track officially opened June 22, 1997, and it's celebrating its 20th anniversary as NASCAR returns to Fontana this weekend for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and XFINITY Series racing. Penske got his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win at the track on April 29, 2001 with Rusty Wallace piloting the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford. Brad Keselowski put Team Penske back in Victory Lane at Auto Club Speedway in 2015. Penske's open wheel drivers also have had success at the track. Penske built a fast race track, leading to some stout stats in the speedway's lore: -- A 188.511 mph qualifying speed record set by Denny Hamlin in 2016 -- A 155.012 mph race speed record set by Jeff Gordon in 1997 Digging into the numbers a bit more: -- Hendrick Motorsports has 10 wins, the most of any team -- Ford has 11 wins at the track, and Chevrolet has 13. Kyle Busch has taken home two Auto Club 400 trophies for Toyota in back-to-back races in 2013-14. -- Farthest back in the field a winning driver started: 31st, Matt Kenseth, spring of 2006 -- Pole-sitting winners: Only one, Johnson in 2008 -- The closest margin of victory was 0.144 seconds, as Kevin Harvick edged Johnson in 2011
NASCAR industry to salute U.S . military with XFINITY Series tribute
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- In a show of appreciation for the United States Armed Forces, NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers will bear the names of active military units and installations on their race car windshields during Friday's Subway Firecracker 250 Powered By Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Marine Raider Battalion and the USS New York (LPD-21) are among the military units and installations from all five branches that will replace the " XFINITY " header on NASCAR XFINITY Series cars. NASCAR: An American Salute ™ ( #NASCARSalutes ) is the industry's collective expression of reverence, respect and gratitude for those who have served and continue to defend the United States today. Last month, NASCAR together with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race teams honored 40 fallen service members with 600 Miles of Remembrance, a similar tribute during Memorial Day Weekend. RELATED: See all cars in 600 Miles of Remembrance "NASCAR's long-standing tradition of honoring the U.S . Armed Forces will never waver -- it is woven into the fabric of our sport," said Brent Dewar, chief operating officer, NASCAR. "We have a unique opportunity with the NASCAR XFINITY Series to pay tribute to the military units and bases integral to preserving our country's freedom." Several NASCAR XFINITY Series teams have personal or direct connections to the units displayed on their race cars. Driver Brendan Gaughan 's windshield will read "23RD STS," representing the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron ( U.S . Air Force) from Hurlburt Field in Fort Walton, Florida. Gaughan is one of a handful of civilians recognized as an Honorary Member of the Combat Control Association. Elliott Sadler 's windshield will be adorned with Fort Campbell to honor JR Motorsports employee Lee Langley, who served for six years at the Army base as an infantry team leader in the 101st Airborne Division. Ty Dillon and Brandon Jones both work with Hope 4 Warriors and will honor 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines and 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, respectively, from Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Justin Allgaier will honor the U.S . Air Force 469th Flight Training Squadron through a personal connection, as Allgaier is friends with Major Robert Harms, one of the pilots serving in that specific unit. The squadron operates out of Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. "I always look forward to getting a chance to pay homage those who serve our country at Daytona each year," Allgaier said. "We're thankful to Comcast for providing the space on all of our cars to support these military heroes and to NASCAR for continuing their NASCAR Salutes program. This year there's a personal tie for me as I get to display the squadron of one of my friends. We love that we're able to support our military, but a sticker or event will never be enough to truly give them all the credit they deserve for what they do." The special windshield tribute is one of several military activities planned for the Independence Day Weekend races at Daytona International Speedway , culminating with Saturday's Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola (7:45 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The race track will again host and recognize three recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award given to military service members, continuing a tradition dating back several years. The Medal of Honor recipients in attendance this weekend will include Staff Sergeant Ty Carter, Command Sergeant Major Gary Littrell and Captain Florent Groberg, each representing the U.S . Army. NASCAR together with Daytona International Speedway and race teams will host hundreds of active military and veterans, and their families, during the race weekend. Among them will be the 65th Infantry Regiment of the U.S . Army, nicknamed "The Bourinqueneers," a Puerto Rican regiment that was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in April. Several active military members present for Saturday's Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola will take part in a special moment of recognition for the U.S . Armed Forces before the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. Pre-race activities will also feature a flyover of four F-16s from the 93rd Fighter Squadron from Homestead Air Reserve Base during the national anthem, which will be performed by the U.S . Army Maneuver Center of Excellence Band from Fort Benning, Georgia. The national anthem will be performed as 200 military members unfurl a giant American flag in the infield. Retired U.S . Air Force Sergeant Kelly Miller will be grand marshal for Friday's Subway Firecracker 250 Powered By Coca-Cola. A Subway franchisee, Miller served as an aeromedical service specialist, responsible for the healthcare of Air Force pilots and flight crews. Retired Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Fred Gardner, also a Subway franchisee, will serve as the honorary starter. Gardner operated the Terrier missile first control system during Mediterranean tours. Additional live coverage of the Subway Firecracker 250 Powered By Coca-Cola and Coke Zero 400 Powered By Coca-Cola can be found on NASCAR.com .
Nos. 2, 4 teams penalized after violations at Phoenix
RELATED: Details on NASCAR's deterrence system NASCAR levied L1-level penalties against the No. 2 car of Team Penske and the No. 4 car of Stewart-Haas Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series on Wednesday following Sunday's race at Phoenix Raceway. The violation for the No. 2 car is detailed in sections 220.127.116.11.2 of the NASCAR Rule Book (post-race general inspection measurements), and driver Brad Keselowski's fifth-place finish in the Camping World 500 is encumbered, per section 12.10 of the NASCAR Rule Book. Meanwhile, the violation for the No. 4 car is detailed in sections 18.104.22.168 I-4 of the NASCAR Rule Book (track bar mount and supports) and driver Kevin Harvick's sixth-place finish at Phoenix is encumbered. As a result of the violation, No. 2 crew chief Paul Wolfe was fined $65,000 and suspended from the next three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points races. The team was assessed with the loss of 35 driver points and 35 owner points. Brian Wilson will serve as the No. 2 team's crew chief this weekend at Auto Club Speedway while the team "evaluates our approach relative to today's penalties," Team Penske said in a statement. Appearing on a Wednesday night edition of FS1's "NASCAR Race Hub," Keselowski discussed the impact of not having Wolfe atop the pit box and his history with Wilson. "Well, first off, my crew chief, Paul Wolfe, is an elite crew chief, and I feel really lucky to have him, " Keselowski told the program. "...To lose a guy like that, it definitely hurts. He's a great asset to our team, but this is one of those setbacks that I think every team faces and we're just going to have to get through it. It looks like it’s going to be a handful of races and we’ll do the best we can during that time. "The good thing about Brian Wilson is he comes from the XFINITY side as a crew chief who just won with Joey Logano at Las Vegas. But even before that, he was on the 2 team as the lead engineer, so a lot of knowledge and experience, and we look forward to working together with him." The No. 4 crew chief Rodney Childers was fined $25,000 and suspended from the next Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points race. The team was assessed with the loss of 10 driver and 10 team owner points. On Thursday morning, Stewart-Haas Racing officials said that the organization "has officially requested an appeal hearing regarding the penalties ... and have also requested a deferral of the penalties until the appeal process is complete." The appeal request means that Childers will be allowed to participate in this weekend's race activities at Auto Club. Team Penske also has the option to file an appeal to the National Motorsports Appeals Panel. As of Thursday morning, the team was still evaluating its options. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;g
No. 47 team's L1-level penalty from Atlanta upheld
RELATED: NASCAR levies L1-level penalties after Atlanta The National Motorsports Appeals Panel upheld penalties against the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing team that competes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series following a hearing Wednesday at NASCAR's Research & Development Center in Concord, North Carolina. JTG officials appealed L1-level penalties levied against the team, driver AJ Allmendinger and crew chief Randall Burnett following the March 5 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The penalties were the result of three unsecured lug nuts on the No. 47 Chevrolet found during post-race inspection and resulted in a loss of 35 championship driver and owner points and a $65,000 fine and three-race suspension for Burnett. The points loss dropped Allmendinger, who finished 26th at Atlanta, from 11th to 35th in the standings. Following last weekend's Phoenix race, he is now 31st in standings. RELATED: Details of the updated deterrence system Ernie Cope, the organization's director of competition, has served as interim crew chief during Burnett's suspension. Minimum penalty options for an L1-level infraction according to the NASCAR deterrence policy, consist of a deduction of 10 to 40 points, suspension of crew chief for 1-3 races, a fine of $25,000 to $75,000 as well as the team's finishing position being declared encumbered. Specific lug nut violations/penalties are: a $10,000 fine for one unsecured lug nut; $20,000 fine and one-race suspension of crew chief for two unsecured lug nuts; $65,000 fine, loss of 35 driver/owner points, three-race crew chief suspension and encumbered finishing position for three or more unsecured lug nuts. The panel consisted of Richard Gore, Bill Lester and Steve York. JTG Daugherty can appeal the panel’s decision to Bryan Moss, the National Motorsports Finals Appeals Officer, if it so chooses. JTG Daugherty Racing is located in Harrisburg, North Carolina. The organization fields two full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams featuring Allmendinger and the No. 37 team of Chris Buescher.
Luza strikes it rich at Las Vegas
RELATED: See the complete iRacing schedule At the onset of the 2017 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series, many of the series’ tenured drivers looked to NASCAR Pro Series Champion, Ryan Luza, as the biggest threat to dethrone 3-time and reigning champion, Ray Alfalla. After a lackluster start at Daytona, some cast doubt on the abilities of the young gun; however, after his dominant win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Round Two of the season, series rookies and veterans alike should take notice. Matt Bussa, driver of the #34 WinView Games Toyota Camry, started the race at the helm. A regular in the NASCAR iRacing Series, Bussa looked to capitalize on his superb starting position. However, he would have to wait for a few laps to show his hand as the 167-lap event was slowed before the completion of its opening lap, as Mitchell Hunt spun at the exit of Turn 2, collecting Byron Daley, Michael Johnson, and Nicholas Johnston. Hunt and Daley immediately retired after sustaining irreparable damage, while Johnson and Johnston mustered on for the remainder of the evening. Bussa led the field back to green on lap six, with Alfalla, Luza, and Marcus Richardson in tow. The #34 machine led the opening twenty-eight laps, before succumbing to an insurmountable challenge by Luza’s eventual race winning #1 Racerboost Ford Fusion. Luza held station at the top spot for the remainder of the race, only losing the lead during several green flag pit stop cycles. With the race slowed by just one additional caution period, efficiency whilst entering/exit pit road was key. Over the course of the event, cars began searching for new grooves, as grip was at a premium. Competitors ran from the top of the racing surface to the track’s white line. Front runners mimicked each other’s lines, thus trading fast laps back and forth. As one competitor found a faster groove, the rest followed and vice versa. Amid the constant search for the fastest way around LVMS, former series champion Kenny Humpe found trouble off of Turn 2, slapping the outside retaining wall. He suffered damage that would ultimately take him out of contention for a top dozen finishing position. Facing issues at the opposite end of the track, Taylor Hurst made contact with series rookie Christian Challiner, which resulted in Hurst’s #78 Chevy side-swiping the SAFER barrier. The sim racers completed their final pit stop sequence with about 35 laps remaining. Luza cycled around with a two second lead, and built on that until the race’s completion. Michael Conti, who started 30th on the evening, made a charge to second-place following the last round of pit stops only to fall victim to a pit miscue that shorted him three laps of fuel. The 2014 series champion made a stop with three to go, which resulted in a 34th place finish by the #5 Chevrolet. On a happier note, Cody Byus, 2016 championship runner-up, PJ Stergios, Alfalla, and Logan Clampitt rounded out the top five behind Luza at night’s end. With two races in the books, it remains to be seen whether Luza showed his true form with his win in Vegas . . . or his tenth place finish at Daytona. Meanwhile, although he has so far been shut-out of victory lane, with two top five finishes to his credit Alfalla is itching to notch his first W of the season. So too are former champions Humpe and Conti and a host more. Who will rise to the top in Round Three? We’ll find out in two weeks’ time when the series rolls into its second stop of its version of the West Coast Swing -Auto Club Speedway. Tune into www.iracing.com/live at 8:45 p.m. eastern time on April 4 to catch the action live!
Furniture Row No. 77 hauler damaged in accident
Two Furniture Row Racing hauler drivers were uninjured after the No. 77 team's transporter was involved in a hit-and-run highway crash early Thursday morning. The No. 77 hauler was damaged on Interstate 15 on the way to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, site of this weekend's NASCAR races for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and XFINITY Series. Driver Travis Watts and co-driver David Shano escaped injury. According to the Denver, Colorado-based team, a car pulled off to the road's shoulder then back onto the interstate directly in the hauler's path. There was no damage reported to the trailer, race cars and equipment, but the team has rented a replacement truck to complete the trip to the 2-mile California track. "We're all very relieved no one was injured in the incident," team president Joe Garone said in a release provided by the team. "There was substantial damage to the tractor but everything in the trailer was checked out thoroughly and is OK. We've rented a tractor and the No. 77 hauler is on schedule to arrive at Auto Club Speedway later today." The car and its two occupants left the scene of the accident, approximately 15 miles north of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Both were later located and arrested by the Nevada Highway Patrol. Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Erik Jones is in his first year driving the No. 77 Toyota for Furniture Row. He sits 18th in the series standings ahead of Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the fifth race of the season.
NASCAR announces race package for XFINITY Series race at Indianapolis
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Indianapolis Teams competing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway later this year will do so with a race package that incorporates three major modifications aimed at one goal -- improved competition at the legendary 2.5-mile speedway. Designed specifically for the 100-lap race scheduled for July 22, the modifications consist of a taller rear spoiler and splitter package; aero ducts on the lower front bumper area; and a 7/8th-inch restrictor plate currently used for superspeedway events at Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. The static ride height of the cars will remain at 4 inches, which is unchanged from the current 2017 rules package. The Indy package was crafted after much in-house simulation and development and then field-tested on Oct. 12 at IMS for verification. XFINITY Series teams from Richard Childress Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and Kaulig Racing participated in the test. "We (develop) the analytical package and come to some conclusions," Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR Senior Vice President, Innovation and Racing Development, told NASCAR.com. "But then we also need to go on the track and verify this. So this approach has been a two-step approach, analytical creation of the package and then on-track verification. "We race at 29 tracks (across all three national series) and they're all very special," Stefanyshyn added. "Indianapolis has a long history; it's a wonderful track. Our objective is to give our fans the best possible show we can. We are very proud of being able to participate at Indy; we want to put our best foot forward. We believe we have come up with a package that gives us the best opportunity to do that." MORE: IMS announces updated race weekend schedule Stefanyshyn said officials had teams run various packages during the test. While the use of the restrictor plates enabled the cars to run closer together, the ability to pull out and pass remained difficult. "We saw the cars were closer together, but we weren't able to create some passing until we introduced the aero ducts," he said. "That's the main purpose of the ducts, to give the trailing car more of an advantage … we always hear about clean air and how the leader has clean air. Our objective here is to try to give the trail car more benefit." Without the aero ducts, cars running down long straightaways such as those at IMS hit a wall of air, which creates "a significant horsepower deficit" when they get within approximately one car-length of the lead car, Stefanyshyn said. The aero ducts direct air in through the existing brake ducts and out through the wheelhouse on each side. The high speed air flowing out creates a larger hole or "envelope" for the trailing car. Use of the aero ducts should increase the amount of horsepower differential for the trailing car by approximately 25 percent. "We're giving the driver more momentum from four-five car lengths back, gaining coming into within half a car length; when he gets right into that bubble, he's still got to cross through it, but he's carrying momentum and he can break through it," Stefanyshyn said. Stefanyshyn said incorporation of the package isn't "a slam dunk," but studies and testing have thus far validated the changes. "Our belief is that we will create a situation where they can pass on the straightaways," he said. "That's been done analytically, it's been done with three cars. The question is when we turn 40 cars loose on the track can that still manifest itself and that's still what we’re hoping will happen." Speeds likely won't vary greatly with the new package, and the use of restrictor plates isn't expected to generate the big packs of traffic on the track similar to what typically is seen at Daytona and Talladega. Stefanyshyn said it's more likely that there will be several groups of five or six cars each, "and in each of those groupings we're hoping to see passing on the straightaways." The XFINITY Series has competed at IMS since 2012, and the lack of passing on the big, flat track has been a concern for NASCAR and speedway officials. Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing) led more than half the laps in winning the last two XFINITY Series races at Indy and he led 92 of 100 when he won the race in 2013. Dale Earnhardt Jr. addressed the racing package this week during his weekly Dale Jr. Download podcast. Earnhardt Jr. competes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for Hendrick Motorsports. He is also co-owner of JR Motorsports, which fields four full-time teams in the XFINITY Series. "I'm curious to see (the changes)," he said. "I think NASCAR sees this as an idea on how fix racing in general at Indianapolis." According to NASCAR officials, there currently are no plans in place to utilize the package at any other venue or in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
NASCAR checks in to Hotels for Hope
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR announced today a multi-year partnership with Hotels for Hope designating the company as the "Official Hotel Booking Partner of NASCAR®." Hotels for Hope, a hotel inventory brokerage with a philanthropic business model, services large scale consumer events across the country and will now include NASCAR race weekends. As part of the partnership, a landing page on NASCAR.com ( www.nascar.com/hotels ) launches today, allowing the industry and fans to book hotels for upcoming race weekends through its "Raceday Hotels by Hotels for Hope™" platform. For each actualized room night booked through Hotels for Hope, one dollar will be donated to The NASCAR Foundation. "There's really nothing like attending a NASCAR race and partnering with Hotels for Hope will provide our fans with a convenient and streamlined process to book travel," said Chad Seigler, NASCAR vice president of business development. "Hotels for Hope drives awareness and funds for notable charitable organizations and we are proud that The NASCAR Foundation will be represented among them." Hotels for Hope's database of over 600,000 hotel partners are utilized across a wide variety of events including music festivals, food and wine festivals, business conferences, trade shows, and more. With custom branded solutions and room block management, Hotels for Hope's technology will fulfill the hotel accommodations for any type of event. "Hotels for Hope's industry leading technology uses hotel reservations as a vehicle to raise awareness and support nonprofit partners, including The NASCAR Foundation," said Neil Goldman, Hotels for Hope CEO and founder. "Servicing NASCAR.com and the fans allows us to reach a larger audience, and to drive more bookings with meaning through this sport." Similar to The NASCAR Foundation, Hotels for Hope's mission is to improve the lives of children worldwide. All the nonprofits on its preferred list work to help children live happier and healthier lives. The NASCAR Foundation is committed to making children's health and medical needs a top priority. "The NASCAR Foundation is rooted in improving the life and health of children," said Nichole Kreiger, The NASCAR Foundation acting executive director. "We are thrilled to be working with an Official Partner that has the same commitment, and look forward to making an impact together." Through the Speediatrics Children's Fund, the Foundation supports needs for hospitals, clinics, and other organizations providing children's medical care. Since its inception, more than one million children in need have been aided. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season will continue with the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, March 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Daniel Suarez stars in first national television ad for Subway
BUY TICKETS: Celebrate Auto Club's 20th anniversary Daniel Suarez is debuting in his first national TV ad as a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver with sponsor Subway this weekend as the series wraps up its NASCAR Goes West swing at Auto Club Speedway. Suarez will drive the No. 19 Subway Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in Sunday's Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.) The accompanying television ad focuses on Suarez's drive and desire to reach the pinnacle of the sport, his path to get here and his competitive fire. "I came here to race," the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender says. "I came here to be better. Now, I stand here a challenger …" Get a sneak peek of the ad here: When Subway came on as a sponsor for Suarez earlier this year, the young star said, "I'm extremely grateful to Subway for their continuing sponsorship of our Joe Gibbs Racing team this year. I enjoy eating healthy, and Subway has always been my go-to choice to refuel my body when I'm on the road or at home. I'm looking forward to a great 2017 season in the Subway Toyota Camry." Subway is primary sponsor on Suarez's No. 19 ride for four Monster Energy Series races this season, including the May 28 Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte; the July 1 Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona; and the Oct. 15 Alabama 500 at Talladega.
DraftKings: Auto Club 400 Price Check
WATCH: Auto Club 400 Price Check, sponsored content provided by DraftKings.