NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series heads west to California’s Auto Club Speedway, site of the fifth race of the 2014 season, the Auto Club 400. The first four races of the season have given fans four different winners – Dale Earnhardt Jr., Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards – and a few surprises. Five drivers in this weekend’s race have multiple wins at the Fontana track, one of whom is coming off his best finish of the short season.
Tony Stewart – “Smoke’s” fourth-place finish at Bristol was more like a win – his luck at the short-track has been off in recent years, having had just one win in 30 races and having his last top 10 finish there in spring 2010. His luck at Auto Club Speedway, however, is definitely better – he has two wins in the last four races at the two-mile track, with 12 top 10 finishes in 22 races. Stewart isn’t known for getting hot early in the season, but this track could begin his assault on the season.
Jimmie Johnson – If it seems like Johnson is a favorite at most tracks, that’s because he’s won at all but five tracks on the schedule. He’s got five wins at Auto Club Speedway, and the track ranks as one of his best, with an average finish of 5.7 – only next weekend’s track, Martinsville Speedway, ranks higher (5.3 average finish). With 14 top 10 finishes in 19 races, Johnson has just two finishes outside the top 15 – and they’re both 16th. His last win at the track was in the spring of 2010.
Kyle Busch – “Rowdy” has only one top 10 finish in the Cup Series this season, but he has 11 top 10 finishes in 16 races at Fontana, two of them wins. With an average finish of 10.7, Auto Club Speedway ranks as one of Busch’s top five tracks. He’s also been successful in the Nationwide Series at the track, collecting 12 top 10 finishes – including six wins – in 15 starts.
Matt Kenseth – Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate has three wins at the track, his last coming in the spring 2009 race with Roush Fenway Racing. Kenseth has 14 top 10 finishes in 21 starts, and an average finish of 10.1.
Jeff Gordon – Gordon has collected four straight top 10 finishes to start the season, and there’s a chance the streak may continue at Fontana, where Gordon has 11 top 10 finishes in 24 races, including three wins. However, the veteran driver hasn’t had a win there since early 2004, and has just one top 10 finish in the last five races there.
Source: “Statistical Advance: Analyzing the Auto Club 400,” NASCAR Media, March 17, 2014