On The Gas, On The Brakes At Auto Club Speedway

(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

The final race of the “West Coast Swing” packed a punch that Hollywood stuntmen would be proud of. The stars of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series took to the two-mile Auto Club Speedway in hopes of ending Kevin Harvick’s run at four straight and see if Superman had a weakness. A lot of trophies are handed out in Hollywood, so who would take one home in Fontana?

On The Gas…

3: Erik Jones – The sophomore slump may not be in effect for Jones. After leading 11 laps in the Daytona 500, he hasn’t enjoyed the first spot in a race since the season opener. However, Jones continues to show speed. Inf act, Jones has made steady progress and the West Coast was good to him, bringing home three top-10 finishes, including a seventh at Auto Club Speedway.

2: Kyle Larson – For a driver that won the last four races on a two-mile race track, plus being the leader in the clubhouse for Chevrolet, Larson was excited and disappointed in a second place finish in his home state, especially when it was 11 seconds behind the leader.

1: Martin Truex Jr. – The field should be nervous. Truex, as of right now, is on a better pace than his championship season of a year ago. He may have won a little later in the schedule, but he leads the points. His Toyota has been consistently fast. On Sunday, if that race had a boxing referee in the both, that would have a TKO very early.

There were plenty of drivers speeding through California on Sunday, but inside of the Auto Club Speedway, a few were still taking in the sights.

On The Brakes…

3: Daniel Suarez – A week after his best finish of the season, his first top-10 and coincidentally his first lead lap finish of the year, Suarez and the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team were back down again. Suarez was a lap off the pace and struggled to find speed. There was a lot of potential coming in to this season. Now Suarez and his team just need to regroup and find it.

2: Kevin Harvick – As good as this team is, and the raw speed in the car, four in a row may just happen again in 2018. Give the guy the a chance and it might just happen twice. Sometimes your brain just gets in the way and Harvick stuffed his No. 4 Ford in the fence and ended his bid to win the race. It could have been worse. At least he’s not the guy in the No. 1 position for this portion of the list.

1: Trevor Bayne – There was a lot of hope for Bayne when he jumped in the No. 6 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing. Unfortunately it has yet to materialize. His last top-five came at Talladega last season.

Bayne has yet to finish on the lead lap in 2018. In this case, it’s been nine straight races since Bayne had a lead lap finish. Martinsville in the fall was his last. The only good news for Bayne on Sunday was he escaped a wicked crash unharmed.

California shook things up a little bit as drivers spent the day running well over 200 mph. Now on to Martinsville where one racer and team will claim a grandfather clock while most may be too upset to hug it out.

Our first short track race of the season is on the horizon. I wonder what the over/under is on the number of drivers who’ll be upset with each other.

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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