California. Fontana. Auto Club Speedway. Call it what you will. In any event, we’re here for NASCAR action this week, one race removed from a fairly calm DAYTONA 500 in which we saw Rookie of the Year candidate Austin Cindric make his way to Victory Lane. In the world of motorsports, everyone loves a surprise, and a first-time winner in a stacked field never disappoints. Can someone else add their name to that list today?
Here’s what to look for:
-Let’s talk a little more about Austin Cindric. He’s riding high right now, quickest in Qualifying and able to keep that car under control. Of the ten cars that advanced to Round 2, three of them (including some very talented drivers) didn’t make it back to the finish line. Cindric has yet to run here in the Cup Series, but the momentum is clearly working for him already.
–Kyle Busch is our only active driver with more than one Win at this track. He’s gotta be lickin’ his chops today, ready to tear up this 2.0-mile track. He’ll be rolling off 3rd today, ready to lead a pile of laps if he can get out front. Can he? Of course he can.
-While Kyle Busch has had multiple Wins here, Alex Bowman is our most recent winner here, way back in 2020. That day he led 110 laps, and held the aforementioned Kyle Busch to 2nd who didn’t get to lead a single lap! Bowman will have a little work to do, starting 14th, though we already know that Kyle Larson in front of him will have to head to the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments.
–Chase Elliott is our next best guy who hasn’t yet found his way onto this list. Kyle Busch has a 5.1 average finish over his last nine races, Chase sports a 9.4 over five attempts. Only one Top 5, but he’s got three Top 10s in there. He was one of those drivers to spin out in Round 2 of Qualifying, so we’ll have to keep an eye on #9 today.
-We saw a rookie shock the world of NASCAR with a Win last week, can we see another Rookie of the Year contender put up some really good numbers today? I think so, yes. Harrison Burton hasn’t run this track in the Cup Series either, but in one attempt in the Xfinity Series, he finished as good as he possibly could. He led 40 laps in that race, and actually placed two positions better than Cindric who finished 3rd. There are a LOT of variables when comparing the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series though: different wheelbase, different speeds, different setups, different competition, and this year especially, a completely different car. Past success has to breed some sort of confidence boost though, doesn’t it? One would think so.
Alright, time for some food for Race #1 of our West Coast Swing..
California Cobbs! Yeah, we (I) typically like to go big-time meat when we can for our NASCAR foods, but how can anyone complain about a Cobb Salad? It’s big, it is bad, and it has chicken, eggs, bacon, in my case, delicious Kalamata Olives. I don’t think either of us finished these earlier because of the sheer size alone, but my, were they tasty. Nice job, Leese!
Coverage of the race starts on FOX at 3:30pm, green flag scheduled for 3:47pm.