Photo courtesy of NASCARmedia.com/253469By Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR
Auto Club Speedway is located east of Los Angeles in Fontana, California. The first NASCAR Sprint Cup series race was held at the track in 1997. California native Jeff Gordon won that race. Since then, there have been a total of 14 different Sprint Cup drivers who have made their California Dream a reality. The most successful has been Jimmie Johnson who has won five times at Auto Club Speedway. Jeff and Matt Kenseth have captured three wins each while Tony Stewart has two wins at the track. The ten other winners have only been able to capture a single win at Auto Club Speedway.
Past records at the track may not mean as much in this year’s Auto Club 400. With the new Gen-6 cars racing will likely be quite different. In the first races of the 2013 NASCAR season drivers have talked about how difficult it is to pass in the Gen-6 cars. While the cars seem to be able to produce plenty of power for top speeds all alone or in small packs, the full race field seems to hold them back.
This week will be another in race test for drivers and crews with the Gen-6 cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. The track is a two-mile oval with 11 degrees of banking on the front and back stretches with 14 degrees of banking through the turns. Drivers have raced on intermediate and super speedways already this year in Daytona, Phoenix and Las Vegas similar to this track. However, Auto Club Speedway has something those tracks don’t.
Auto Club Speedway has a very wide racing surface. The wide racing surface will allow for side-by-side racing of two, three, four and sometimes even five-wide racing. The question will be, can the Gen-6 cars allow the Sprint Cup drivers to use that wide racing surface for side-by-side racing? If they are able to get next to each other racing this Sunday, it will likely be one of the most exciting races of the NASCAR season. The power of the Gen-6 cars will enable the drivers to hit speeds of over 200 mph. If they are doing that side-by-side while passing … hot dog this will be fun!
We will have to wait and see how it turns out as NASCAR heads to Auto Club Speedway for race #5 of the 2013 Sprint Cup season. Pre-race coverage of the Auto Club 400 will begin at 2pm central time Sunday, March 24th.
By: Buck Stevens