After running on the East Coast last weekend, the Sprint Cup series returns west to battle it out in California at Fontana. Defending winner Kevin Harvick looks to score his first win of the year while 42 other drivers look to put this year's trophy in their trophy room. When all is said and done, there will only be one winner, but who are seven drivers that look to shake up the race this weekend? Let's take a look.
Kevin Harvick won the only running at Fontana last year for his first win at his home state track. However, Harvick has been a threat in previous years as well, finishing seventh in the October 2010 running and second in the February 2010 running.
He currently sits second in points, nine behind leader Greg Biffle with two top-10 finishes.
Tony Stewart is the October 2010 winner of this race, checking off another track from his winless column. While Stewart did finish 13th last year, he has been in the top 10 every year since 2009.
The defending Cup champion already netted a win this year, a scary thought for those running against him since Stewart usually doesn’t get on a winning roll until later in the season.
Jimmie Johnson dominated at this track from 2007 to 2010, winning four of the seven races. Johnson also finished second last year and third in the fall 2010 race, forcing a person to look farther than the last five races to find a time when the five-time champion was even out of the top 10.
With the appeal drama out of the way for the No. 48 team, their attention can go fully back to focusing on racing, there’s no doubt the Lowe’s car is a huge threat this weekend.
Last weekend’s winner has never finished better than 21st in his three runnings at the track, but to be fair, this time last year most people would be saying “Brad who?”
Brad Keselowski burst onto the scene during the second half of last season and while his results aren’t proven here, he’s definitely one that needs to be watched this weekend.
Matt Kenseth was one of the very few drivers to slide into Victory Lane during Jimmie Johnson’s reign at the track. While Kenseth has had a few issues here over the last few years, he has been in the top 10 in three of the last five races.
In addition to winning Daytona this year, Kenseth sits third in points, 12 behind leader and teammate Greg Biffle.
Clint Bowyer may be with a new team, but with his results so far this year, his past Fontana performances can't be thrown out. Bowyer sits in eighth in points, with two top-10 performances so far this year.
In an even sweeter deal, Bowyer comes into Fontana with four top-10 runs in five races, including a second-place finish in the fall of 2010. Bowyer has never won here before but his results at the track show he knows his way around it and his season shows that moving to a smaller team hasn’t hurt him so far this year.
No prediction slideshow would be complete without a dark horse and I've found mine.
My dark-horse prediction of the race is Jamie McMurray. McMurray’s greatest fame at this track is winning both the poles at this track in 2010.
While McMurray doesn’t really back up his qualifying performances (his best finish since 2009 is a 16th followed by two 17th-place finishes), he does have two top-10 performances this year. While I don’t expect McMurray to win, I do think that he can get into the top 10 by the end of the race.