NASCAR heads to the west
The final race of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup western swing was another race full of surprises.
This past week the action moved to the two-mile Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. The Xfinity series took to the track Saturday to kick off the weekend.
The Service King 300 saw another large group of full-time Cup drivers join the Xfinity regulars. The first two stages were Kyle Busch benefits, and once again, he robbed the regular drivers of those valuable points for both the regular championship and the playoff.
Hey, NASCAR, make a change in this. I’m fully aware that Kyle didn’t receive the points but he kept them from going to anyone running for the championship.
A Cup regular also captured the win. Kyle Larson drove away to his sixth victory in the series. Joey Logano finished second. Kyle Busch raced his way back to third. Cup Rookie of the year candidate Eric Jones made it a Cup sweep of the top four spots. William Byron was the first regular Xfinity driver in fifth. Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. scored the fifth sixth-place finish in a row.
The Xfinity teams have a much needed break this week and will return to action at Texas Motor Speedway in two weeks. Special note: Cole Custer had a hard, fiery crash in Saturday’s race but was uninjured.
The Sunday race began with a threat of rain; however, it was never a factor in the race. The Auto Club 400 rolled off and Kyle Larson proved that he could not only wheel that Xfinity car but he was the class of the field and captured the first stage.
Martin Truex Jr. had kept him in sight and on the restart he moved away and paced the field for the second stage. These two cars appeared to be the class of the field. As the final stage played out, Larson positioned himself and used newer tires to pass cars that had stayed out on a late race caution.
Kyle won his second Cup victory and there appear to be many more in his future. Brad Keselowski had multiple problems during the day. He and his pit crew battled back and finished in second place.
Clint Boyer in his Stewart Haas Motorsports Ford finished in third. This was his first top five in 54 races. He said that it felt like a victory.
Martin Truex Jr. had a bad pit stop and fell behind. He used cautions and stayed out on older tires to gain track position back. He was able to hang on to fourth place. Joey Logano rounded out the top five. He also had a rough day and fought a car that had body damage from an early race incident.
Jamie McMurray put his Ganassi Racing teammate car to winner Larson in sixth place at the finish. Rookie Daniel Suarez finished seventh. Kyle Busch finished eight. Ryan Blaney grabbed another top 10 in his Wood Brothers Racing Ford.
Chase Elliott finished 10th. Chase had a lot stronger car and run than this finish showed. He led laps and was right in the run with Truex and Larson all day until the cautions and pit stops played out at the end.
All in all it was a good race and I think I like the stage racing so far. Time will tell about how it plays out in the end-of-the-year playoffs.
This coming weekend the Monster Energy Cup series and the Camping World Truck series move back east to the tight half-mile paper clip-shaped Martinsville Speedway where “rubbin is racin’!”
I think the short tracks provide the best action and racing of the year. ∫∫∫
Tyler County Speedway had an open practice test and tune time Saturday.
Local track crews have been taking advantage of the warm weather to put the finishing touches on Elkins Raceway.
The track looks wide and fast. Thunder in the Mountains is only a few short weeks away and I need to get to the garage and get the Mud Bus ready to go.
Remember, at the end of the straight away there’s Another Left Turn.