Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Auto Club 400
The Place: Auto Club Speedway
The Date: Sunday, March 18
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 60),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: California 300
The Place: Auto Club Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 17
The Time: 5 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 4:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (150 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 35),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 70), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 150)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Alpha Energy Solutions 250
The Place: Martinsville Speedway
The Date: Saturday, March 24
The Time: 2 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 1:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 131.5 miles (250 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 70),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 140), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 250)
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
#4 For No. 4
Kevin Harvick's victory Sunday at ISM Raceway in Phoenix set him up with a historical opportunity. It was the third consecutive Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win in the young 2018 season for Harvick. Should he win this Sunday at Auto Club Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) in his native California, he would become the first driver since Jimmie Johnson (2007) to win four consecutive Monster Energy Series races.
The two-mile track has potential for the feat. Harvick won there in 2011 and scored back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2016. In 24 starts at the track, he has six top-five and 11 top-10 finishes to go with the win.
After winning his third in a row in Phoenix, Harvick admitted that the motions are high as he heads back home to attempt to continue his winning ways.
"He [Rodney Childers] knows I put a lot of emphasis on California. Racing in your home state, a racetrack that I really enjoy racing at, I got so amped up that I wrecked it on lap zero last year, knocked the grille out of it, knocked the hood off of it, never got a chance to race.
"Yeah, I'm excited about it."
Birds of a feather flocked together in Phoenix.
Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford), Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota) and Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet) put together impressive team performances in the final race of the "old" configuration of ISM Raceway.
Stewart-Haas Racing captured the checkered flag with Kevin Harvick and tallied an average finish amongst their four cars of 6.0. The complete SHR contingent finished in the top-10 with Clint Bowyer in sixth, Aric Almirola in seventh, and Kurt Busch rounding out the group in 10th.
Joe Gibbs Racing may not have won the race, but their average finish with their four entries was a 5.75. They also put all four teammates into the top 10 - Kyle Busch was second, Hamlin placed fourth, Daniel Suárez was eighth, and Erik Jones crossed the line in ninth.
With SHR and JGR taking up so many slots in the top 10, there wasn't much room for anyone else. But Hendrick Motorsport's Chase Elliott came home third and his three teammates all placed in the top 14 (William Byron - 12th, Alex Bowman - 13th, Jimmie Johnson - 14th).
West Coast Kings
Three of the five Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers from California have wins at Auto Club Speedway - led by Jimmie Johnson's track-best six victories. The El Cajon, California, native - who captured the first of his 83 Monster Energy Series trophies at the track - has finished in the top-10 in a remarkable 16 of his 23 starts and won a pair of Busch Pole awards too. His five runner-up showings at Auto Club are also a series record.
Bakersfield native Kevin Harvick has a win (2011) and 11 top-10 finishes in 24 starts as he goes for his fourth win in a row this weekend.
Kyle Larson, of Elk Grove, dominated the event last year winning the race from the Busch Pole and leading 110 of the 202 laps. He finished runner-up at the track in his 2014 Monster Energy Series debut there.
Kurt Busch Riding SHR Wave Of Success
A trip home didn't fare too well for Las Vegas native Kurt Busch, who finished 35th following an accident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
But Busch didn't let that stumble completely derail his west-coast jaunt. At Phoenix, he collected his second top 10 of the season, joining the other three Stewart-Haas Racing cars in the top 10.
Now 11th in points, Busch looks to crack another top 10 - that of the championship standings.
The last two races at Auto Club Speedway weren't to Busch's liking (he finished 24th and 30th), but prior to that, he scored three consecutive top fives. He won the Auto Club Speedway race in 2003.
Some more news is on the horizon for Busch. Be sure to visit NASCAR.com on Thursday, where Stewart-Haas Racing will make a special announcement about his No. 41 car.
Kyle Busch's runner-up finish to Kevin Harvick last week at ISM Raceway marked his third runner-up showing in the last five races - dating back to the 2017 Homestead-Miami Speedway season finale.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has 43 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories and - incredibly - nearly that many (42) runner-up finishes.
Now on a two-race runner-up streak, Busch has twice recorded three runner-up finishes in a row between other top-five finishes.
He was runner-up three times in a four-race span in 2014 (at Kentucky, New Hampshire and Indianapolis) and three times in a six-race span in 2015 (at Watkins Glen, Richmond and Dover).
Looking For California Gold
Three of the sport's highest profile drivers - including reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion Martin Truex Jr. - are still looking for their first-ever win at Auto Club Speedway.
Truex, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano are a combined 0-for-44 at the track. And all three are hoping to score their first win of the 2018 season in Fontana this week.
Truex's finish of fourth-place in this race last year was a career best in 17 starts at the two-mile track. Hamlin has won three Busch Pole positions at Auto Club Speedway, but his best finish in the race is third in 2016.
Logano is 0-for-11 with a best showing of third-place in 2013. He does have top-five showings in his last two visits to the track, including a fifth-place in the race last year.
Still Chase-ing A Win
Last week's third-place finish for Chase Elliott was a season high for the Hendrick Motorsports driver and perhaps a solid launching point as he heads to one of his historically best venues, Auto Club Speedway.
The third-year Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver's season to date has consisted of a pair of DNFs - at Daytona Beach and Las Vegas, and a pair of top-10s - at Atlanta and Phoenix.
But he must be eager to arrive in Fontana this week, where he boasts the best average finish (6.5) of anyone in the field with two top-10 finishes in two starts.
Dusting Off the Rookie Rust
William Byron led the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series laps of his career Sunday at ISM Raceway, pacing the field for 15 laps and recording a season-best 12th-place finish. He moved up to 21st position in the standings coming to Auto Club Speedway, where he has only one NASCAR national series start, which resulted in a fifth-place finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series last year.
Fellow Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr., finished 25th at Phoenix and still maintains a slight rookie edge in the overall Monster Energy Series standings in 19th position. He never finished worse than 12th at Auto Club Speedway in three Xfinity Series starts that included a pair of top-10 efforts.
Stewart-Haas Racing's first ever top-10 team sweep last week at Phoenix was indicative of how the team's fortunes have been so far this season.
Clint Bowyer's hold on ninth place in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings is his best showing through the opening four races of the season since 2013.
The second-year Stewart-Haas Racing driver has two top-10s, including a sixth-place run at ISM Raceway last weekend and a third-place effort at Atlanta three weeks ago.
Although Bowyer has not won at this week's California venue, he finished third there last season - his best run at the track since a runner-up finish in 2010.
And SHR's newest driver, Aric Almirola, is 10th in the standings - a career best for the driver in his seventh Monster Energy Series season. He has four top-13 finishes through four races and is coming off a season-best seventh-place finish at Phoenix.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.
Two of a Kind: California natives Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Larson are the only drivers in the field Sunday to have won the race from the pole position. And Johnson (six wins) and Kyle Busch (three) are the only multi-time winners in the field. ...
Stage Points Update: Three-time race winner Kevin Harvick leads all drivers with 53 stage points. Kurt Busch (42) and Martin Truex Jr. (41) round out the top-three.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
West Coast Love: NASCAR Xfinity Series California Natives A Plenty
A total of 56 different drivers representing three countries (U.S.A., Mexico and Canada) and 26 different states have made at least one start this season in the first four races of the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series season. And of those drivers, six are from the state of California.
California is tied with Florida (six each) for the second-highest number of series participants this season behind North Carolina's eight drivers. The six drivers that call California home are Cole Custer (Ladera Ranch), Ryan Reed (Bakersfield), Dylan Lupton (Sacramento), Tyler Reddick (Corning), Kyle Larson (Elk Grove) and Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield).
Of the six California natives who have made series starts this season, four are entered in Saturday's California 300 at Auto Club Speedway (5 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio):
Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang, hails from Ladera Ranch, California, which is about 60 miles south of Auto Club Speedway. The 20-year-old in his sophomore season is currently 11th in the series driver standings after posting two top 10s in his first four starts of 2018. Custer made his series track debut last season at Auto Club Speedway and started fourth before getting caught in an incident on Lap 105 and that relegated him to a 35th-place finish. The So-Cal youngster will be looking to redeem himself in front of the home track fans this weekend.
Ryan Reed, driver of the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang, is from Bakersfield, California, which is about 155 miles north of Auto Club Speedway. Reed isn't the only Californian on the No. 16 team, the car chief, Dan Bormann, is also from The Golden State (Shingle Springs, California).
The 24-year-old Reed has been the model of consistency during his career, finishing in the top 10 in points ever since he started running full-time in 2014. Reed is ninth in the series standings heading into this weekend. In his first four starts of the season, he has posted one top five and two top 10s.
"It's (Auto Club Speedway) so much fun, I love going there, it's one of my favorite race tracks we go to, if not my favorite, and also it's a home track for me since I grew up in Bakersfield a few hours away," said Reed. "I look forward to going there every year and it just means a lot to have a lot of friends and family there."
Reed has made four series starts at Auto Club Speedway, posting an average finish of 14.2, including a 15th-place finish last season.
Dylan Lupton, driver of the No. 28 JGL Racing Ford Mustang, is from just outside Sacramento in Wilton, California, which is about 450 miles north of Auto Club Speedway. The 24-year-old is currently 22nd in the series standings after posting an average finish of 27.8 in his first four starts of the season. Lupton made his series track debut and lone start at Auto Club Speedway in 2016, where he started 22nd but finished 36th after being caught in an incident on Lap 56.
"Auto Club Speedway is my favorite track that we race at all year long," said Lupton. "The worn-out surface, the seams, and all the different lanes you can run on the track makes Auto Club really unique. I look forward to racing in my home state and having my friends, family, and Fatal Clothing guests join us at the track this weekend."
Tyler Reddick, driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, is from Corning, California, which is about 550 miles north of Auto Club Speedway. The 22-year-old Reddick is currently second in the series standings, just one point behind his JRM teammate and the series standings leader Elliott Sadler. In the first four races of the season, Reddick has posted one win (Daytona) and three top 10s. His average finish of 9.5 this season is second only to Sadler's 5.3 among title contenders this season. Reddick will be making his NASCAR national series track debut at Auto Club Speedway this weekend.
Sunoco Rookie Of The Year Standings Get Tight Heading To California
With four races in the books, the top two drivers in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell, are separated by only seven points.
After his third top-five finish in a row through his first four starts of 2018, Joe Gibbs Racing's Christopher Bell has closed what was a 23-point lead between himself and JR Motorsport's Tyler Reddick to a mere seven points as the series heads to Auto Club Speedway for the California 300 this Saturday (5 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Though Bell is bridging the points gap, Reddick still holds the rookie standings lead after he posted a win at Daytona, and three top 10s this season.
Plus, JGL Racing's Kaz Grala, who sits third in the series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings is just 54-points behind Reddick and 47 back from Bell. The 19-year-old Grala is starting to find his stride as well this season, posting an average finish of 13.8.
All three rookies, Reddick, Bell and Grala will be making their NASCAR Xfinity Series track debuts this weekend at Auto Club Speedway.
"Fontana is one of the few tracks this season that I have never raced at in any car or truck," Grala said. "That will definitely make this weekend more challenging for me, and it will change our approach in practice. Fortunately, it won't be entirely foreign to me; last year as a rookie in the Truck Series, I unloaded almost every weekend at a track I'd never seen before, and this will be no different. Hopefully I can get a handle on the track quickly, so we can start dialing our Mustang in for the race."
Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings following ISM Raceway: Tyler Reddick (150), Christopher Bell (143), Kaz Grala (96), Alex Labbe (67), Austin Cindric (62), Vinnie Miller (40), Spencer Boyd (28), Chad Finchum (17), Josh Bilicki (14) and Matt Mills (12).
JR Motorsport's Hold On The Series Driver Standings Strengthens
Is anyone a match for the trio of JR Motorsports drivers, Elliot Sadler (standings leader), Tyler Reddick (second in points) and Justin Allgaier (third in points) in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings this season? Not through the first four races, as a JRM driver has held the top spot in the standings following every race this season.
Now the organization has strengthened their hold atop the points with drivers occupying the top three spots in the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship driver standings; much like they finished the season with last year (2017 final standings top three: 1. William Byron 2. Sadler 3. Allgaier).
The veteran Sadler has taken the standings lead for the second time in 2018, leaning on a one-point cushion over his teammate Reddick as the series heads to California this weekend. Sadler leads the series in average finish with a 5.3 after posting three top fives and four top 10s in his first four starts of 2018.
Sadler is no stranger to Auto Club Speedway, as the Emporia, Virginia, native has made 13 series starts on the 2-mile track, posting four top fives and nine top 10s. He has finished in the top 10 in his last seven consecutive Auto Club Speedway starts. He has yet to win at Auto Club Speedway and Sadler is looking to end a 43-race winless streak that dates back to 2016 (Kentucky).
"With the strong start to the season that this No. 1 Cessna team has had, I'm really looking forward to seeing how we finish out the West Coast swing," said Sadler.
Sadler will be taking over OneMain Financial's Facebook Live on Friday, March 16 at 2:30 p.m. ET to provide details on the OneMain Financial 200 at Dover International Speedway sweepstakes and to answer fan questions.
Reddick's visit to ISM Raceway in the Valley of the Sun last weekend was one of perseverance. The California native crashed in qualifying and had to start the race at the rear of the field (40th) but managed to pilot his No. 9 Chevrolet to a 10th-place finish. Now the 22-year-old is second, just one point behind his teammate Elliott Sadler, in the championship standings. Reddick will be making his series track debut at Auto Club Speedway this weekend.
The latest JR Motorsports driver to join the top three in the NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings is Allgaier, who currently sits third in points, seven markers back from Sadler in the lead. Allgaier joins the JRM points party on the heels of an impressive performance at ISM Raceway, where he led the most laps (76) and finished runner-up to Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Brad Keselowski. The Riverton, Illinois, native has now posted two top fives and three top 10s this season.
"This No. 7 team has had a lot of momentum the past few weeks and I'm hoping we can continue that into this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. This is definitely a race where you need to bring your A-game."
Allgaier has made nine series starts at Auto Club Speedway, posting four top-10 finishes; including a ninth-place finish last season.
Impressive Part-Timers Nemechek And Preece Return
Two talented drivers who have made the most of their recent part-time status in the NASCAR Xfinity Series are Chip Ganassi Racing's John Hunter Nemechek and Joe Gibbs Racing's Ryan Preece. Both are returning this weekend for Saturday's California 300 at Auto Club Speedway (5 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
John Hunter Nemechek made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway for Chip Ganassi Racing two weeks back, and did so in impressive fashion by etching his name alongside just 21 other drivers in NASCAR Xfinity Series history to finish in the top-four in their series debut. Nemechek is the second driver this season to accomplish the feat, joining Kaz Grala who also finished fourth at Daytona in the season-opener.
This weekend, Nemechek will again be piloting the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro with crew chief Mike Shiplett. Nemechek will be leaning on Shiplett quite a bit this week as it will be his series track debut, and because Shiplett led Nemechek's CGR teammate Kyle Larson to the win at Auto Club Speedway last season.
Joe Gibbs Racing's Ryan Preece has also returned and will be making his NASCAR Xfinity Series season debut this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. Preece has been climbing the NASCAR ladder in his career and each step he has taken he has impressed, especially last season when he signed with JGR to run four races. The 27-year-old from Berlin, Connecticut proved he deserves a shot by winning at Iowa and finishing in the top-five in the other three races.
Preece made his series track debut at Auto Club Speedway in 2016, driving for JD Motorsports. He started 24th and finished 25th. Preece will be driving the No. 18 Toyota Camry with crew chief Eric Phillips on the pit box.
Joe Gibbs Racing leads the series in wins at ACS with eight victories (Kyle Busch has five wins for JGR, Joey Logano has two and Tony Stewart has one).
Not Much Separating The Top 10 In Points, A Look At Fifth-10th
Looking at the standings following Phoenix last weekend, the top four in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver championship standings are only separated by eight points, and the top 10 are all within 48 points of the standings lead. Below is a look at the drivers currently ranked fifth-10th in the driver standings:
5. Daniel Hemric - No. 21 Richard Childress Racing
Not shy of championship competition, Daniel Hemric is fifth in the standings after ISM Raceway just 21 points back from Elliott Sadler in the standings lead. Hemric and the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro team led by crew chief Danny Stockman Jr. posted two top 10s and average finish of 12.2 through four races this season. Hemric was 18th in the standings following the season opener at Daytona and has climbed up to fifth the last three races. Now Hemric and the team turn their attention to Auto Club Speedway.
"It (Auto Club Speedway's surface) puts a lot back in the driver's hands," said Hemric. "You will have a lot of comers and goers throughout the race, and that's a lot of fun. Anytime you can make speed and find more than the guy in front of you by searching around in different grooves, that's fun."
Hemric made his series track debut at ACS last season in his rookie year, starting second and finishing 11th.
6. Spencer Gallagher - No. 23 GMS Racing
Spencer Gallagher has recently fit the puzzle pieces of several consistent runs together in his racing career and it is paying dividends. The Las Vegas native is currently sixth in the series standings, just 34 points back from Elliott Sadler in the standings lead. He is also only 13 points back from Daniel Hemric in fifth. Gallagher is in his sophomore season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and is aiming to make the Playoffs in 2018.
Gallagher and the No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet Camaro team led by crew chief Chad Norris have posted two top 10s and an average finish of 11.0 thus far in 2018. Gallagher has made two series starts at Auto Club Speedway, posting an average finish of 21.5. He finished 19th in this race last season.
7. Brandon Jones - No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing
With almost a whole new stable of drivers this season, Brandon Jones is proving he can fit right in with the talent at Joe Gibbs Racing as the Atlanta, Georgia, native is currently seventh in the series driver standings, just 36 markers back from Elliott Sadler in the standings lead, and just two points back from sixth-place Spencer Gallagher. Jones made the move from Richard Childress Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing in the off-season.
Now Jones climbs into the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry with crew chief Chris Gabehart calling the shots from the pit box. The duo has posted two top 10s and an average finish of 11.2 in their first four starts of the season. Jones has made two series starts at Auto Club Speedway, posting a best finish of ninth in 2016.
8. Ryan Truex - No. 11 Kaulig Racing
Ryan Truex joined Kaulig Racing during the off-season and early signs are showing it was good decision on car owner Matthew Kaulig's part to bring him in. Truex is currently eighth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver standings, just 37 points behind Elliott Sadler in the standings lead. Plus, he is just one point back from seventh-place Brandon Jones.
Truex and the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro team led by crew chief Chris Rice have posted two top 10s this season and an average finish of 11.5. Truex hasn't made a series start at Auto Club since 2011, when he started 19th and finished 17th.
9. Ryan Reed - No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing
Ryan Reed has entered his fifth full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series season with Roush Fenway Racing and once again is doing so in stellar fashion. Despite being diagnosed at the age of 17 with Type 1 Diabetes, through hard work, perseverance and working with his doctors, Reed has been able to manage his diabetes and set an example to others by becoming a competitor in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Reed is currently ninth in series driver standings 44-points behind Elliott Sadler in the standings lead.
Reed and the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang team led by crew chief Phil Gould have posted one top five, two top 10s and an average finish of 12.5 this season. Reed, a California native, has made four series starts at Auto Club Speedway, posting an average finish of 14.2.
10. Matt Tifft - No. 2 Richard Childress Racing
Matt Tifft is another driver who made a switch in organizations in the off-season moving, from Joe Gibbs Racing to Richard Childress Racing. After the first four races of the season, the Hinckley, Ohio, native is now 10th in the series standings, just 48 points behind Elliott Sadler in the standings lead. Tifft and the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro team led by crew chief Randall Burnett have posted one top 10 and an average finish of 12.2 this season.
Tifft struggled at California last season and is eager to get back to the 2-mile track.
"I'm looking forward to getting to Auto Club Speedway to have a chance at redemption for myself," said Tifft. "Last year was the first year I had ever been to that track, and it was a tough place for me to figure out."
Tifft made his series track debut at Auto Club Speedway last season with Joe Gibbs Racing, he started 22nd and finished 17th.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Etc.
Autograph Session In The Fan Zone On Friday: On Friday, March 16th, beginning at 4:30 p.m. local time, NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers are scheduled to take part in an autograph session located in the Auto Club Speedway Midway at the Fan Zone stage. Fans will have an opportunity to meet several of the drivers and get autographs.
Double dippers are also the only former ACS winners this weekend: Just two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers will be competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway this weekend - Austin Dillon (No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro) and Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang). Dillon and Logano are also the only former winners entered this weekend. Dillon captured the checkered flag at Auto Club in 2016 and Logano visited the ACS Victory Lane twice, in 2009 and 2012.
Xfinity Stage Points Accumulators: Through four races, stage points are proving to be evermore important to a title run in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The following drivers are the top five in gathering stage points - Christopher Bell (40 stage points; which is 27.9% of his driver standings total), Justin Allgaier (38), Tyler Reddick (36), Daniel Hemric (31) and Elliott Sadler (24).
Owner Points Update: Following last weekend's race at ISM Raceway, Chip Ganassi Racing's No. 42 Chevrolet team, driven by Kyle Larson, John Hunter Nemechek and Jamie McMurray, has taken the owner standings lead by four points over second-place Team Penske's No. 22 Ford team driven by Ryan Blaney, Austin Cindric, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Rounding out the top five in the owner points are Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 18 Toyota team in third, JR Motorsport's No. 1 Chevrolet team in fourth and the No. 9 JRM Chevrolet team is in fifth.
Xfinity Series - Auto Club Speedway - Quick Stats: Below is a look at some key stats heading into the California 300 at Auto Club Speedway this Saturday, March 17 at 5 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).
NASCAR Xfinity Series Races: 28
Pole Winners: 17 (Joey Logano leads series with four)
Youngest Pole Winner: Erik Jones (03/21/2015 - 18 years, 8 months, 50 days)
Oldest Pole Winner: Dave Blaney (02/24/2007 - 44 years, 4 months, 0 days)
Race Winners: 16 (Kyle Busch leads series with six)
Youngest Xfinity Winner: Joey Logano (10/10/2009 - 19 years, 4 months, 16 days)
Oldest Xfinity Winner: Mark Martin (02/26/2005 - 46 years, 1 months, 17 days)
Races Won from Pole (or 1st Starting Position): 5
Last Race Won from Pole (or 1st Starting Position): Kyle Busch (03/23/2013)
Race Record: Hank Parker Jr 155.957 mph (04/28/2001)
Qualifying Record: Tony Stewart 185.941 mph (02/26/2005)
Closest Margin of Victory: 0.051 (02/20/2010)
Most Leaders: 12 (04/28/2001)
Most Lead Changes: 23 (02/25/2006)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Moving On To Martinsville
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be idle for one more week while the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series head to Auto Club Speedway. But the trucks return to action next week, taking on Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, March 24 in the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Noah Gragson (Fall) and Chase Elliott (Spring) won the two races at "The Paperclip" in 2017. For Gragson, it was his first career victory and followed up a fourth-place finish in the spring race.
It was Elliott's second career victory in the Camping World Truck Series. His first came in 2013 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Now You See Me
2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Johnny Sauter is in a very familiar place - atop the standings. His season-opening win at Daytona instantly made him a contender for his second championship by virtually ensuring he's in the Playoffs.
But if we were to start the Playoffs next weekend in Martinsville, the rest of post-season field might require a bit of an introduction - and that's OK with those drivers who are looking to unseat veterans like Sauter and two-time champion Matt Crafton at the head banquet table.
The remaining seven drivers currently in the top eight in the standings have combined for five wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and just 177 starts. By comparison, points leader Sauter has 224 starts and 18 career series wins.
Crafton, who currently sits just outside the Playoff picture in ninth, has tallied 410 starts and 14 series race wins.
Here's a quick look at the career numbers for the top eight drivers in the standings:
1. Johnny Sauter - No. 21 Chevrolet for GMS Racing
Sauter is the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion and has accumulated 18 career wins in 224 starts. He's posted 91 top-five and 143 top-10 finishes, starting on the pole six times.
2. Brett Moffitt - No. 16 Toyota for Hattori Racing Enterprises
Moffitt has a pair of wins in 16 races in the series, including a win earlier this season at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He has recorded five top-five and eight top-10 finishes.
3. Grant Enfinger - No. 98 Ford for ThorSport Racing
In 40 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, Enfinger has tallied a win (Talladega in 2016), 12 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes. He has started on the pole once (Daytona in 2016).
4. Noah Gragson - No. 18 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports
Gragson has one win (Martinsville, in the fall, 2017 race), five top fives and 14 top 10s in 28 series starts. He also won three pole awards in 2017.
5. Ben Rhodes - No. 41 Ford for ThorSport Racing
Rhodes has 53 series starts under his belt with one win (Las Vegas, 2017), 11 top fives and 23 top 10s. He also has recorded two pole positions.
6. Stewart Friesen - No. 52 Chevrolet for Halmar Friesen Racing
Friesen has 28 career starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, putting together three top-five and seven top-10 finishes in that time. He's tallied one pole award (Eldora, 2017).
7. Spencer Davis - No. 51 and No. 4 Toyotas for Kyle Busch Motorsports
Davis has split the first three races of his Camping World Truck Series career - all this season - between the No. 51 (Daytona, Atlanta) and No. 4 (Las Vegas). He has posted one top 10, at Daytona, in those three starts.
8. Dalton Sargeant - No. 25 Chevrolet for GMS Racing
Dalton Sargeant has recorded nine Camping World Truck Series starts, posting four top-10 finishes.
Eight Would Be Great
Martinsville Speedway has seen seven different winners in the last seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at the half-mile track.
A trio of strong series regulars will look to end that streak by returning to Victory Lane at Martinsville.
The most recent winner, Noah Gragson, has just two starts at the short track and finished fourth in his other outing last April. Martinsville was definitely a shining light for him in 2017, as half of his top-five finishes in his rookie campaign came at the track.
Series champions Johnny Sauter (fall, 2016) and Matt Crafton (fall, 2015) also posted wins during that streak.
Sauter finished first, second and third - in that order - in the last three races at Martinsville. He has tallied three wins, eight top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 20 starts at the track.
Crafton crossed the line second last fall and was fourth in the spring. Overall, in 32 races at Martinsville, he has two wins, nine top fives and 19 top 10s.
Here is the list of the last seven race winners at Martinsville Speedway:
2014, Fall: Darrell Wallace Jr.
2015, Spring: Joey Logano
2015, Fall: Matt Crafton
2016, Spring: Kyle Busch
2016, Fall: Johnny Sauter
2017, Spring: Chase Elliott
2017, Fall: Noah Gragson
Todd Gilliland Eager To Get Behind The Wheel
Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Todd Gilliland will finally be able to get behind the wheel of the No. 4 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports when the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Martinsville.
Gilliland isn't eligible to compete on intermediate tracks or superspeedways until he reaches his 18th birthday in May. So, until now in 2018, he's had to sit on the sidelines and watch a cast of substitute drivers pilot his truck.
His dad, David, drove it in the season-opener at Daytona before his truck owner, Kyle Busch, took over for Atlanta and Spencer Davis drove it in Las Vegas.
Gilliland competed in six races in 2017, posting a pair of top fives and three top 10s. He had a best finish of third at New Hampshire and crossed the line fifth at Martinsville in the fall.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.
Expanding Horizons: Sunoco Rookie Myatt Snider has yet to run at Martinsville. In fact, he has only run one race at a track shorter than 1.5 miles...a 2016 start at the one-mile ISM Raceway where he finished 17th. He took to the track eight times in 2017, all on intermediate tracks or superspeedways 1.5-miles in length or longer.
Owners Standings: GMS Racing holds onto first in the owners standings with the No. 21 Chevrolet driven by Johnny Sauter. Kyle Busch Motorsports sits in second with the No. 51 Toyota that has seen Spencer Davis (Daytona, Atlanta) and Kyle Busch (Las Vegas) behind the wheel. Hattori Racing Enterprises holds on to third with the No. 16 Toyota that has Brett Moffitt behind the wheel.
OEM Standings: Toyota's two wins puts them atop the manufacturer's standings through three races with 110 points, but Chevrolet trails them by just one point. Ford has tallied 97 points and sits in third.
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