On The Gas, On The Brakes in Fontana

Kyle Larson took the checkers at Fontana.  Is he on the gas?

Kyle Larson took the checkers at Fontana. Is he on the gas?

After five weeks of racing, the West Coast Swing transitions to the Southern Swing of April. There is some good news for the race teams that have been stranded out in the West Coast – it’s time to come home.

NASCAR returns to the East Coast and heads for its roots with the first short track race of the season. The famed “paperclip” better known as Martinsville Speedway is up. First, let’s look back and see who was shining bright in Hollywood or who had their show cancelled.

We are…

On The Gas…

5) Clint Bowyer – He’s having fun again and that is good for everyone around unless you are trying to chase him down. Bowyer grabbed his first top five since Bristol in August of 2015, snapping a 52 race drought. This could be the start of something beautiful.

4) Daniel Suarez – After a rough start to the season, Suarez is making a significant turn with two consecutive top 10’s, finishing seventh at Auto Club. Saying this is exactly what they came out there for.

3) Jamie McMurray – Outside of a 28th due to “The Big One” at Daytona and a little off day at Phoenix (15th), McMurray has shown potential, sitting on three top ten finishes in the first five races, including a sixth at Fontanta. Maybe Ganassi will get both drivers in Victory Lane this year.

2) Brad Keselowski – One of the favorites to win in California and a candidate to become the first repeat winner of 2017, that thought lasted through the parade laps. Keselowski would get damaged, spinning out early. But like a champion, he would rebound and nearly pull the win off if not for this week’s number one.

1) Kyle Larson – Well come on! Could it be anyone else? Larson won an exciting Xfinity race on Saturday. He follows that up by becoming the second California winner to do so after starting on the pole.  The only other racer to accomplish this was a pretty successful driver named Jimmie Johnson. Maybe you slap yourself in the back of the head if you think this is it for the points leader.

On The Brakes…

5) Martin Truex Jr – On a day where tires meant as much as water did a week ago in Phoenix, Truex and his team gambled late and stayed out on older tires. It’s a tough call. Hero or zero, luckily, the driver held on to finish fourth for a good points day.

4) Dale Earnhardt Jr – It’s another 16th place finish for Junior. Maybe it’s time for Junior Nation to start wondering what’s going on. If not not now, then certainly next week if he comes home with another lackluster performance. After today, he has an extended career.

3) BK Racing – They were bound to be here sooner or later, with 10 out of the 23 caution periods this season involving one of their drivers. Corey LaJoie has been involved, in one form or another, in a caution in all five races. The three cars have combined for 43% of this year’s yellow flags.

2) Matt Kenseth – The poor guy has only managed two points in the stages so far this season. If not for some unfortunate circumstances and the crawl across the top of the screen, we may have forgotten that he was on track. The good news for Kenseth is that he likely got NASCAR to look at Auto Club’s walls, as he certainly got a good look at it.

1) Jimmie Johnson – Let’s just go ahead and take that “lucky horseshoe” and dispose of it. With all of their bad luck lately, nobody needs to get a tetanus shot on their caboose. Albeit, that might actually give them the shove they need to at least get through inspection.

Following the West Coast Swing, some drivers liked their time near the Pacific Ocean while enjoying the time difference.  As they’re back home, they can sleep in their own beds.

Remember, for this weekend, check the tempers at the door of Martinsville Speedway.

Hey, you laughed too!

Stephen Conley

If it races, I'll write about it, talk about it or shoot it with a camera.

I began pursuing a career in motorsports journalism immediately after attending college at Kent State University. I have hosted multiple Motorsports talk shows, worked in Country Music radio, and now i spend every day on the air in the morning with 1300 and 100.9 WMVO and in the afternoons watching the roadways around Central Ohio for 93.7 WQIO.

The excitement and the fans make everything I put out there worth while, it's been an exciting 15 years having covered everything from the Daytona 500 to the Rolex 24 and you can find me at pretty much any event run at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

What I like to bring is a look behind the scenes, a look at what and who makes the sport grow. From the guy that welds pieces back at the shop to the host in the tv booth.

Everyone has a story and I like to tell it. My main focus here at TPF is looking at the men and women behind the microphone and cameras.

My life long goal is to become a member of MRN or PRN Radio and bring the races to you. I hope that what I share now is enjoyable and gives you a unique look in to the world of motorsports.

See you at a track soon

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