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Erik Jones knows his Michigan history — well, most of it

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Erik Jones is a proud native of Michigan.

During a recent interview with NBC Sports, the 20-year-old from tiny Byron (population 581) was tested on his knowledge of his home state.

To start off with, Jones was asked about how much snowmobiling he does back home.

“Funny part, I never have,” Jones said. “Where I grew up, everybody snowmobiled. Everybody I knows snowmobiles. But we never had snowmobiles.

“There’s not a ton (of snowmobile trails) by me. Honestly, it doesn’t snow enough most of the time. Sometimes it does, but a lot of it’s up north. But if you go up to the U.P. (Michigan’s upper peninsula), you can go up there and there’s tons of trails. I know people that go up there and they’ll ride 150-200 miles a day. I can’t imagine. It’s freezing. It’s like negative 10 degrees out.”

It’s no wonder Jones spent his winter vacation in the balmy Dominican Republic instead of the frozen tundra of northern Michigan.

As the test began, Jones quipped, “I don’t know about the state flower or anything.”

Here’s some of the things he did – and didn’t know.

Q) Which city was Henry Ford born?

Jones: “Was it Flint or Grand Rapids? It might have been up north. I don’t know for sure.”

Answer: Dearborn, Michigan, Ford Motor Company’s headquarters. Said Jones in reply, “Dang it, I was going to say Detroit, which is close.”

Q) On what holiday do the Detroit Lions play on every year?

Jones: “Thanksgiving. That’s easy.”

Answer: Thanksgiving is correct.

Q) Who was the first driver to win a NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway (in 1969)?

Jones: “That’s a long time ago. I don’t know that era very well. Was it Benny Parsons?”

Answer: Cale Yarborough is the correct answer.

Q) Who was the first NASCAR Premier Series from Michigan?

Jones: “Well, I know the most recent one. Is it Brad (Keselowski)?”

Answer: Keselowski is correct.

Q) What do you think of Mackinac Island?

Jones: “Mackinac? It’s Mackinaw. It’s spelled like Mackinac, but it’s Mackinaw City.”

Answer: Mackinac is the correct spelling, but it’s pronounced Mackinaw.

Q) What sweet treat is Mackinac known for?

Jones: “Fudge. They do have real good fudge, very good.”

Answer: Fudge is correct.

Q) What is the real name of the Detroit rapper who wrote “My Name Is …”?

Jones: “Marshall Mathers (aka Eminem). He’s from Detroit. That’s an easy one. I go by Eight-Mile (Road) all the time when I’m home.”

Answer: Marshall Mathers is correct.

Q) How many NBA titles do the Detroit Pistons have?

Jones: “Maybe four? Is it three? I knew it was three or four. Bad Boys from the late ‘80s. Who hasn’t heard of them? I wasn’t alive for the first two. I remember ’04. That was a good team.”

Answer: Three is correct (1989, 1990 and 2004).

Q) What is the team name for the University of Michigan?

Jones: “Like the Wolverines? Yeah, the Wolverines.”

Answer: Wolverines is correct.

Q) Born in Romeo, Michigan, who is Robert James Ritchie better known as?

Jones: “Oh, Bob Ritchie? Kid Rock? Yeah. Who doesn’t know Bob Ritchie? I never met him but I like his music.”

Answer: Kid Rock is correct.

Q) What band, formed in 1997 in Detroit, wrote “Seven Nation Army?”

Jones: “I never heard of that song. I don’t know that one. I was only one year old then.”

Answer: The White Stripes.

When the impromptu test was over, Jones quipped, “What about a Bob Seeger question or something? He was born in Flint. Or what about Grand Funk Railroad?”

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Matt Kenseth wrecks out of Auto Club 400 on late restart

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Matt Kenseth crashed out of the Auto Club 400 on a restart with 16 laps remaining in the race at Auto Club Speedway.

Kenseth had restarted fourth following a caution for an incident involving Gray Gaulding.

Kenseth was in the middle groove exiting Turn 2 when he was tapped from behind by Martin Truex Jr. and slid toward the inside wall, which his No. 20 Toyota hit hard. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was cleared and released from the infield care center.

It is Kenseth’s third DNF in the first five races of the season and his second in as many races. He had four in all of 2016.

Kenseth entered the race 20th in the point standings.

Martin Truex Jr. has commanding performance in Stage 2 win at Fontana

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Martin Truex Jr. has taken over as the most dominating driver in today’s Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

After pole-sitter Kyle Larson won the first 60-lap stage, Truex won Stage 2. During the session, Truex’s car showed supremacy with nearly a seven-second lead in the closing laps of the stage.

Truex has now won three of the last six stages, having captured both stages two weeks ago en route to his overall race win at Las Vegas.

Larson is in second place, followed by Chase Elliott, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski.

There has been just two cautions in the race – both coming in Stage 1.

We now move to the final stage, an 80-lap shootout to determine the race winner.

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Kyle Larson wins Stage 1 of Auto Club 400 at Fontana

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Pole-sitter Kyle Larson is almost one-third of the way to winning Sunday’s Auto Club 400. The California native won Stage 1 of the race at his home-state Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, about 50 miles east of Los Angeles.

Larson (43 laps) and Martin Truex Jr. (12 laps) have led the majority of the laps during the opening 60-lap segment. That segment will be followed by another 60-lap segment, and then an 80-lap final section for 200 laps (400 miles) around the 2-mile low-banked track.

It was Larson’s first stage win of the 2017 season under the new enhanced scoring format in the NASCAR Cup Series. Larson has finished runner-up in each of the last three races and four of the last five (dating back to the 2016 season finale). He has just one career Cup win, last year at Michigan.

Truex is running second, followed by Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Busch.

Sixth through 10th are Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin.

Each of the top 10 finishers in Stage 1 will earn stage points in the NASCAR Cup standings.

Two incidents of note occurred early in the race, both involving Brad Keselowski:

* On the first lap, Keselowski’s car suffered left rear damage when several cars were involved in an accordion-like wreck. Others involved included Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin, but there was no caution called.

* Keselowski continued on without repairing the damage and was spun out on Lap 3 when he was hit from behind by Jimmie Johnson, causing further damage to Keselowski’s Ford Fusion. The caution came out for Laps 5 through 7. Johnson claimed there was little or no damage over his team radio, but Johnson has continued to have struggles this weekend. He’s running 32nd, one lap down.

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Bad race start results in damaged cars for Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick

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A bad start by the inside lane at the beginning of the Auto Club 400 resulted in damage to the cars of Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman.

Denny Hamlin struggled to get to speed at the drop of the green flag, causing the first few rows of cars to bunch up. It resulted in Newman making contact with Keselowski’s left rear and causing damage. Harvick then ran into Newman as the inside bottlenecked.

On Lap 4, after falling back to 17th, Keselowski was hit from behind by Jimmie Johnson on the front stretch, which sent the No. 2 car spinning through the infield grass. Keselowski, the Atlanta winner, was 19th and the first car a lap down when the first stage ended.

During pit stops in the resulting caution, large amounts of tape were put on the front bumper and grille of Harvick’s car and the right-front fender of Newman’s.

With 35 laps left in the first 60-lap stage, Harvick was forced to pit for a flat right-rear tire. He now runs in 28th, a lap down. Newman, who won last week at Phoenix, a lap down in 22nd.

Johnson, a six-time Auto Club winner and the defending winner, was told his No. 48 had damage that could easily be fixed in the pits.  He runs in 20th a lap down. Johnson is winless this season.