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Fontana NASCAR 2011: Event Notes and Weekend TV Schedule

Some notes of (possible) interest on the Auto Club 400 at the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California.

  • This is the 22nd race at Auto Club Speedway, but only the second to be run at a 400-mile distance. The inaugural Sprint Cup event at the track was held June 22, 1997. Jeff Gordon won the California 500 Presented by NAPA, leading Terry Labonte for a 1-2 Hendrick Motorsports finish.
  • This is the only race in Fontana this year, after seven seasons as a two-date venue.
  • Jimmie Johnson leads all drivers with five wins. The native of Southern California has 12 top-10s in 16 starts at his home race track, and his worst finish is a 16th in 2003 that occured as he and Mark Martin raced for a top-five spot with two laps to go.
  • In addition to Johnson and Gordon, who has three wins, Kyle Busch won at Fontana in 2005, giving Rick Hendrick a current track record nine victories as a car owner. Jack Roush is second with seven, thanks to three wins by Matt Kenseth and one each from Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, and Carl Edwards.
  • Roush and Hendrick have won ten of the last twelve races at Auto Club. Kasey Kahne won in September 2006, driving for Ray Evernham, while Tony Stewart took the checkered flag last year driving for the team he co-owns with California-based Haas Automation.
  • Two of NASCAR's top teams, Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing, have never won at Fontana. Childress cars finished second in both races last year, while Gibbs' best results are a pair of seconds in 2000 and 2003 by Bobby Labonte.
  • Chevrolet and Ford are tied with 10 wins each at Fontana. Only one other make has won here. Kahne's 2006 victory came at the wheel of a Dodge. Toyota has never won at the closest track to their U.S. headquarters and Pontiac never won in it's starts here before pulling out of the sport after the 2003 season.
  • Matt Kenseth's February 2009 win is his most-recent Sprint Cup victory. Likewise, Elliott Sadler, who is currently competing full time in the Nationwide Series, scored his last Cup win to date here in September 2004.
  • In addition to Sadler, two other former Fontana winners are not competing this weekend. Jeremy Mayfield and Rusty Wallace won the event in consecutive years, 2000 and 2001, both while driving for Roger Penske.
  • Only four drivers have run all 21 races at Fontana: Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Bobby Labonte, and Joe Nemechek. In addition to those four, only two other drivers who started the inaugural event - Mark Martin and Ken Schrader - are scheduled to race this weekend.
  • The last ten spring winners at the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California: 2001: Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Ford); 2002: Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet); 2003: Kurt Busch (No. 97 Ford); 2004: Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Chevrolet); 2005: Greg Biffle (No. 16 Ford) 2006: Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Ford); 2007 Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Ford); 2008: Carl Edwards (No. 99 Ford); 2009: Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Ford); 2010: Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)

With the boys out West, us Easterners get later times than usual for practice, qualifying, and the race. Here are times and networks for all of the televised sessions and events for the weekend activities at the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California. Races in bold. All times Eastern.

Friday, March 25:

3 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice SPEED

4:30 p.m NASCAR Nationwide Series Practice SPEED

7:00 p.m NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Qualifying SPEED

Saturday, March 26:

1 p.m. NASCAR Nationwide Series Qualifying SPEED

2:30 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Practice SPEED

4 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Final Practice SPEED

5 p.m. NASCAR Countdown ESPN

5:30 p.m. NASCAR Nationwide Series Royal Purple 300 ESPN

Sunday, March 27:

2:30 p.m. NASCAR on FOX Pre-Race Show FOX

3 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 FOX

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.