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Starting grid for the NASCAR Cup Series’ Auto Club 400

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With the second pole of his NASCAR Cup Series career, Kyle Larson will lead the field to green Sunday in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway.

Joining Larson the front row is Denny Hamlin.

Filling out the top five is Brad Keselowski, Martin Treux Jr. and Ryan Newman.

Click here for the starting grid.

NASCAR America: Cup drivers share first celebrity crushes

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You always remember your first big crush.

During the NASCAR Media Tour in January, NASCAR America asked a bunch of NASCAR’s stars who their first celebrity crush was growing up.

Drivers including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson, Erik Jones, AJ Allmendinger and many others shared who they fancied in their formative years.

But don’t ask Matt Kenseth, he only had Metallica posters on his wall.

NASCAR America: Cup drivers looking for better results this weekend at Phoenix

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We’re only three races into the NASCAR Cup Series season and it’s clear some teams are struggling more than others.

NASCAR America’s Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte discuss a few of those teams, including JTG Daugherty Racing and Roush Fenway Racing.

Through three races, JTG Daugherty’s two cars of Chris Buescher and AJ Allmendinger are 33rd and 34th in the standings.

Watch the video for all their thoughts.

Texas Motor Speedway shows off new repave

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Other than the lines needing to be painted, the repave of Texas Motor Speedway’s racing surface has been completed.

The track officially unveiled the finished product on Monday, less than a month before its first usage by NASCAR.

One of those present for the reveal was NASCAR Cup driver and Texas native Chris Buescher.

In addition to the repave, the project lowered the banking in Turns 1-2 from 24 to 20 degrees and the racing surface width was expanded from 60 to 80 feet in those turns. Turns 3 and 4 were just repaved.

A drainage system was also installed to help prevent long rain delays or postponements that plagued both NASCAR weekends and the IndyCar weekend last year.

In the above video you can watch Buescher drive around the track and give his commentary on the how the project turned out. Buescher and the rest of his NASCAR competitors will return to Fort Worth, Texas, for the April 9 O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.

“The track was soaked this morning when we got here and was dry within the hour without any assistance,” Buescher said in a press conference. “We ran maybe 10 laps with a pace car. That’s all we really did to help. … Turns 1 and 2 over there, it’s interesting how wide it is now. It’s pretty amazing, when you get on the front stretch, which is it’s always been without white lines now. Looking at the corner coming up, it’s extremely wide, we’ve got a lot of options. … The bottom groove is so far down the track, you feel  like that track is going to be quite a bit slower.”

After the first NASCAR race weekend, the Verizon IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will return to race on the track during the weekend of June 10.

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Pit road speeding on the minds of drivers at Las Vegas

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A week after NASCAR issued 13 pit road speeding penalties, at least one Cup driver fears Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway could top that.

“This weekend will be brutal because we’ve never had these timing lines here at Vegas and Vegas is notoriously difficult on speeders,’’ Daytona 500 champion Kurt Busch said Friday.

He’s not exaggerating.

NASCAR has issued 20 speeding penalties in the last two Cup races at Las Vegas, including one to Busch. Others who have been penalized include Brad Keselowski, who came back to win last year’s race, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon.

MORE: Click here for look at where timing lines will be on pit road

NASCAR began adding timing lines on pit road in July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. That was after questions were raised when Martin Truex Jr. was penalized for passing on the left on pit road after he accelerated between timing lines at Kentucky.

Last week was the first time at Atlanta since the change and the impact was significant. Kevin Harvick lost the lead after he was caught speeding on the final stop. Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth were each caught speeding twice.

“We knew they added segments, it’s just you go through the segments pretty fast,’’ Kenseth said Friday. “When they’re twice as long, even if you’re not trying to cheat a segment or do something like that, if you look away for a second at your pit stall or whatever and you get going a little bit, you’ve got some room to slow down and correct because they’re timed segments.

“We just had the stuff set too aggressively, and I think especially after they changed something at track, you’ve just got to kind of start over and get a good baseline and err to the slow side and then go from there for the next race.”

Keselowski isn’t so sure that pit road penalties will play as big an impact as the season progresses.

“I think that’s one of those things where everybody kind of learns the new boundary and then they get settled in and it kind of goes away,’’ he said.

Chris Buescher did not get hit with a pit road speeding penalty at Atlanta and has a way of avoiding such an issue.

“One speeding penalty will take away any progress that any 49.5 mph versus 49 mph on pit road will have gained you throughout a race,’’ Buescher said. “Yeah, you’ve got to max it out, but (I) look at the bigger picture and make sure that we don’t have a speeding penalty. I’m not worried about the extra lines here.”

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