DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – For the third consecutive week, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney looked to be THE driver to deal with for a NASCAR Cup Series checkered flag. And while tough luck circumstances resulted in another ‘near miss’ rather than Victory Lane celebration – his work has still been stellar enough to propel him into driver standings lead for the first time in his five-year career.
The 26-year-old holds that top position in the championship for the second straight week as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Phoenix Raceway for Sunday’s FanShield 500 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Alex Bowman becomes the third driver to qualify for the Cup Series playoffs.
Auto Club Speedway hosts the third NASCAR Cup Series race of the season, with a 400 hundred mile run on a track surface that provides a challenge for the cup series. The track surface has not been repaved since the speedway began hosting Cup races back in 1997. The racing surface along with its multiple racing grooves provides a style of racing that is fun and exciting.
FONTANA, Calif. – Before the green flag waved Sunday at Auto Club Speedway, Jimmie Johnson took prime position behind the pace car as the rest of the NASCAR Cup Series field fanned out five-wide behind him in a respectful salute to the seven-time champion.
When the green flag waved to signal the beginning of the Auto Club 400, Johnson saw his wife Chandra and daughters Genevieve and Lydia doing the honors from his second-place starting position.
Ryan Blaney had one of the fastest cars in Sunday’s Auto Club 400, but at the end of the day, he had very little to show for it.
Blaney finished second to eventual race winner Alex Bowman in the first stage. He turned the tables on Bowman in Stage 2, winning the segment by a wide margin. But Blaney got shuffled back after a restart on lap 128 and found himself in fifth place when Bowman passed Martin Truex Jr. for the lead on lap 133.
The pit stop during the break between the first and second stages of Sunday’s Auto Club 400 certainly didn’t go the way Kurt Busch or his No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing team had planned it.
Under caution on lap 63, Busch missed his pit stall, failed to get service and had to return to pit road to correct the mistake a lap later. From fifth at the end of the stage, Busch dropped to the back of the lead-lap cars for the subsequent restart on lap 67.