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.