March 24th, 2013
“Auto Club 400”
FONTANA, CALIFORNIA – The Sprint Cup Series ran race five of the season at the California Superspeedway. The Two-Mile Track was the site of 200 laps at speeds around 200mph steadily. Denny Hamlin (11) was able to take the Pole Position with his Toyota Camry. Teammate Matt Kenseth (20) started second. Greg Biffle (16) and Brad Keselowski (2) qualified up front, but both had changes that sent them to the rear of the field for the start of the race. The 5x champion Jimmie Johnson won his very first victory at this track in 2002. Danica Patrick gets to celebrate her Birthday on Monday. She won the award for “Most Favorite Female Athlete” through the Nickelodeon Network. This was on the “Kid’s Choice Awards” the night before the California Race. NHRA Drag Racer John Force was a spectator at the race even. There were concerns that the new cars could have engine issues, due to the lighter weight and the extremely high RPM’s the cars will maintain throughout the race.
The Opening Ceremonies began with Jeff Hamilton providing the Invocation. The group “Tenors” sang the National Anthem. The Grand Marshals for the race were Adrianne Palicki and D.J. Cotrona. The In-Race Reporter is Greg Biffle.
The completion of lap one, had Joe Gibbs Racing in the top three spots. Matt Kenseth (20), Denny Hamlin (11) and Kyle Busch (18) were out front from the green flag. Team Hendrick started in positions fourteenth through seventeenth. Speeds into turn one reached 207mph in the early laps.
David Stremme (30) spun out on lap 29, bringing the first caution out. The second caution came on lap 37, when Timmy Hill (32) had an engine failure. A few cars ended up with damage after going through the oil put down on the track by Hill’s engine. Mark Martin (55), Clint Boyer (15), Brad Keselowski (2), Jeff Gordon (24), Kurt Busch (78) and Kasey Kahne (5) all had right side damages as each of them tagged the wall. Leader Kyle Busch stated his car started getting much louder, after that incident as well.
Green-Flag pit stops began near lap 70. Kurt Busch was penalized for speeding on entry. Kevin Harvick (29) was caught speeding on exit of pit road. Both were forced to make another pass down pit road as the penalty.
Debris caused the third caution on lap 91. Brad Keselowski was penalized and forced to start at the back, after he was caught speeding on pit road. On lap 112, Matt Kenseth was forced to make a pit stop under green, due to contact with Greg Biffle on track. Biffle ran into the rear left tire, and Kenseth felt the tire starting to fail. Kenseth fell off the lead lap after he made the stop.
The fourth caution came out on lap 116, when Joe Nemechek (87) hit the wall. Juan Pablo Montoya (42) had troubles leaving pit road. His gear shifter broke and dropped him off the lead lap.
The fifth caution came out for Marcos Ambrose (9) on lap 130, when he had a rear left tire start going flat. The tire failure began going into turn one, and Ambrose was slowing too much for NASCAR to leave it green.
The final pit stop under green began on lap 161. Mark Martin (55) was tagged for speeding on entry to pit road during the green flag stops.
On lap 170, the sixth caution flew for Marcus Ambrose blowing out another rear left side tire. This happened right in front of the second place car, Kevin Harvick.
On lap 175, Mark Martin spun out after touching the wall. David Gilliland (38) ran into Martin as he was coming across in front of his car. Denny Hamlin was penalized for leaving his pit box without a lug nut. Hamlin fell all the way back to 26th after being in the top ten.
On lap 184, Clint Bowyer’s car filled with smoke as his engine failed. He tried getting to the bottom of the track, he caught the grass and it spun his car out. Ryan Newman (39) received a speeding penalty on the last stop.
The race came down to Denny Hamlin (11) racing Joey Lagono (22) for the win. The two of them got together with one mile left, and Kyle Busch (18) was able to go past the two sliding car to win the race. This was JGR first Victory in the series at the track.
The rest of the top ten were: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88), Kurt Busch (78), Carl Edwards (99), Greg Biffle (16), Joey Lagono (22), Kasey Kahne (5), Paul Menard (27) and Ryan Newman (39).
Hamlin’s car slid across the track and went nose first into the wall, extremely hard. He did put down his window net, giving the sign that he was alright. He got himself out of the car and collapsed to the ground. Medical personnel put Denny into the ambulance, to be taken to the infield care center. Of Course Busch made it out that he was the best car, even though they were well ahead of him, until the incident took them out of the victory.
After getting to pit road, Tony Stewart (14) went after and swung at Lagono for blocking him on the last re-start. Lagono did not do anything wrong, as he was racing for a victory with Busch. Stewart was spoken to by media after the incident, and he did plenty of swearing that I am sure NASCAR will provide fines over. He made plenty of nasty comments about the young driver. The race ended with plenty of action this week.
The next race will be at Martinsville on Sunday April 7, at12:30 PM EST on FOX.