NASCAR heads for the Golden State for the Auto Club 400

Auto Club 400 preview

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This Sunday, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads ends its western swing as they head for the high banks of Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. For many, this track is one of the wildcards on the schedule and with this new aero package and the track's two mile length, the racing is sure to be a whole lot closer come Sunday. In this year's off-season testing, drivers Daniel Suarez, defending champion Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr were all invited to a tire test here at the track with all of the new changes in place including the tapered spacer and new Aero Ducts. Overall, the cars were much more closer together than we have been accustomed to seeing over the years and if that was just with three cars, I can't imagine how crazy it's going to look with a full field of 38. It's shaping up to be one of the most exciting races of 2019.

Last week, Daniel Suarez and Michael McDowell stole the headlines after the two were involved in a scrum after qualifying. Towards the end of the session, Suarez was in the middle of his qualifying lap when he encountered McDowell who was finished with his run. Suarez claimed that McDowell killed his momentum and slowed him down so when the session was over, Suarez approached McDowell to confront him and the "fight" was on. After McDowell pushed Suarez, Daniel threw McDowell to the ground. Both were separated by McDowell's crew-chief, Drew Blickensderfer. It has been a while since we have seen a full on physical altercation in NASCAR, the last time there was anything close was Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin at Martinsville back in 2017 and even then that was more of a heated discussion than anything. After the chain of events many fans were ecstatic to see the drama and Suarez gained a lot of new fans via twitter as well. Overall, while the reception of the fight was mostly positive there was a section of racing purists who were not to keen on the kind of publicity that would come with the fight. While I can sort of understand their opinion, these kinds of things are what the sport was built off of. Most would say that without the fight that Donnie Allison, Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough had in Daytona in 1979, this sport wouldn't be as popular as it is today. The emotions we saw with Suarez and McDowell is how racing used to be, fight now then talk it out after words which they did. I for one am glad to see the drivers finally coming out of their shell and showing some character, something we haven't seen very much of over the past few years.

The favorite going into this race has to be Martin Truex Jr. Last year he kicked off his incredible season by getting his first win of the season here. While this year there are much different circumstances and the racing is supposed to be vastly different this time around, it's no secret that MTJ knows his way around Auto Club speedway. Since 2017, Truex hasn't finished lower than second, he has also led more laps than any active driver in that time span as well. While he is with a new team at Joe Gibbs Racing, the fact remains that he will be the car to beat come sunday. Look for Truex to claim his first win of the season and begin his journey to a second NASCAR championship.

While there has been a lot of static about these new cars this year, and this type of racetrack is what these cars are made for; it should be a can't miss race come Sunday.

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This Saturday, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series heads for Richmond Raceway for the first night race of 2019. This track is a 0.75 D-shaped oval and is the second of back-to-back short track races for the series. The track is one of the more spacious of the short track group as the track has multiple groves to pass on so there should be plenty of side-by-side racing come race-day and don't be surprised if someone uses their bumper to get by someone for the win like we saw back in 2016 with Kyle Busch and his former teammate Carl Edwards.

Last week, Kyle Busch came back from a crash in the early stages to win his third race of the season. This race was one of the most entertaining of the season as both Kyle and his brother Kurt battled all throughout the closing laps but unfortunately The big story of the weekend, was not the great race that we saw. Come Monday all NASCAR fans wanted to talk about was how there were"empty seats" in the grandstands. While I can understand how a lot of fans are scorning the new direction of the sport and some of their complaints are valid but I don't think that this should overshadow what a great race we saw Sunday. Overall, while yes NASCAR is in a slump right now, but it doesn't help matters for some "fans" to continue to talk about how the sport is "dying" and A lot of the times, these people don't even offer any solutions either, they just talk about how bad the sport is doing and relive the glory days and that helps no one. Needless to say, I think we can all agree though that there needs to be serious changes made to help NASCAR get to where it needs to be and there are a whole laundry list of things that can be tweaked. One thing is the schedule could use some changes; there are tracks new to this series that fans might be interested in seeing like Circuit Of The Americas or a short track like Iowa Speedway. There have been grumblings of a massive overhaul come 2021 so I hope that this can drum up some more interest in the sport.

Going into this week, no driver has been on a hotter streak than Kyle Busch. As I stated earlier, last week at Bristol he won his third race of 2019; not only has he been winning races left and right but he has been consistently up front as well. He has finished in the top 10 in all eight races in 2019, something only Terry Labonte has done all the way back in 1992 and unfortunately for the competition, Richmond Raceway is a track he has thrived on ever since he started driving stock cars; in fact he got his first NASCAR Xfinity victory at this track all the way back in 2004. This track just seems to cater to Kyle's driving style and he should have no trouble contending for the victory come Saturday.

The driver that I have winning this week is not Kyle Busch though because I am taking the elder of the two in Kurt Busch to win this week. This year, the driver they call the outlaw has really shined and while he hasn't won a race yet, I think this week is the week. Over the course of his nearly 21 years in racing at this track, he has definitely had his ups downs here but he has found success. He was able to win here back in 2015 and all the way back in 2005 so it's clear that he knows how to run at this track. Not only is he coming to a track that he is good at, but he is riding a wave of momentum as he has finished six of the eight races this year in the top 10 and has easily been the fastest Chevy in the field. I look for Kurt to win his first of many in 2019 as he looks to contend for a championship in what very well could be his final season in NASCAR.

(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at and the best website for all NASCAR stats).(All stats and information used in this article is brought to you by the good folks at and the best website for all NASCAR stats).

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