The 2019 NASCAR West Coast swing ends with a doubleheader weekend at Auto Club Speedway.
The Xfinity Series and Monster Energy Cup Series will both be in action on the two-mile track to wrap up this year’s three-race trip west.
Kyle Busch will be in the spotlight in his attempt to reach the 200 national series win mark. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver, fresh off his weekend sweep at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, is again entered in both ACS races. He sits at 199 and can tie and/or break the mark this weekend.
While Busch is eager to reach the plateau, he’s not putting any extra pressure on himself to reach the mark.
“It will happen when it happens and you can’t push too hard and do stupid things or make mistakes in order to think too much about that number,” Busch said. “You just have to let the race kind of play out and let it come to you and we’ll see where we are at.”
The Auto Club 400 will be the second with the full new Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rules package including the aero ducts that were used at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to start the swing. The rules in addition to the track’s worn and weathered surface brings a number of unknowns into race number five of the season.
“Thinking of Fontana, my mind goes to Atlanta and how important handling was in Atlanta and that will be the case in Fontana,” Jimmie Johnson explained. “We do have more room to run around there, more lanes and options from that standpoint with really long straightaways, so it could be a pretty exciting race that involves a lot of drafting.
“I think the longer the straightaway, the better this package will show and the more competitive racing it will put on. California should be a really good test for it.”
See Also: Five-Wide Salute at ACS
A number of drivers were part of a Goodyear tire test at Auto Club back in January. Those that did participate feel they have the benefit of some experience however are quick to point out conditions may be completely different this weekend.
“It’s one of my favorite tracks and I felt good about the test back in January,” said Martin Truex Jr., who finished second behind Busch last week in Phoenix and is the defending race winner. “Obviously the weather is going to be different and there will be more than three cars like at the test, but we feel like we’ve learned a lot about the package since then.
“We need to go in there Friday and unload strong and carry that through the weekend. I’m excited to see if we can go back to back there because it’s really turned into one of the most fun tracks on the circuit.”
Saturday’s Xfinity Series Production Alliance Group 300 will feature Busch’s shot to reach the 200 win mark at a track where he has won six times in the series, three of them from the pole.
His JGR teammate Christopher Bell figures to be in the mix to derail Busch’s run to Victory Lane as he was last week in Phoenix before getting caught up in an accident.
Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick hopes to also have something to say about Saturday’s outcome. Reddick was born about eight to nine hours north of Auto Club Speedway and he’s taken to the 2-mile track quite well. In his series track debut last season driving for JR Motorsports, he started 16th and finished inside the top 10 (seventh).
Reddick is currently holding the Xfinity Series standings lead by a slim four points over Bell.