Surf City, it is not.
You can’t even see the ocean from Auto Club Speedway, which is located about a two-hour drive east of Santa Monica in Fontana, Calif. But this is NASCAR’s sole outing in Southern California, and it allows for plenty of photo opportunities with celebrities, beautiful women in bikinis, custom hot rods and has very little chance of Mother Nature interrupting the proceedings.
In fact, the weather in Southern California this time of year is quite springlike, with temperatures expected to be in the mid- to upper-70s with little to no chance of rain.
This week, the Sprint Cup teams go from the claustrophobic feel of Bristol Motor Speedway to the wide-open, full-throttle, four-wide racing that Auto Club Speedway (ACS) has to offer. Drivers love this place because it's one of the few tracks on the schedule where they don’t need a car that’s perfect. There is so much room on the straightaways and in the corners that drivers can make up for a car’s lack of good handling by moving a few feet one way or another.
What a driver does need at ACS, though, is plenty of horsepower. The Gen-6 car will drive into Turn 1 at well over 200 miles per hour from one of the sport’s longest front straightaways. That’s a lot of engine rpm, so you might expect to see a few lethal clouds of smoke from expired engines before the weekend is over. Remember, an engine change prior to race time means the team starts at the rear.
Kyle Busch, who holds the track qualifying record at 188.245 mph (set in 2005), is the defending race winner. California native Jimmie Johnson has five wins at the track, highest among active drivers. Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth both have three wins apiece.
*All quotes in this slideshow are taken from official team and manufacturer media releases unless otherwise stated.