Numbers of note: Auto Club stats to know as NASCAR returns


After a two-year hiatus, NASCAR returns to Auto Club Speedway for a full slate of racing action.

Every track has its trends, but an absence from the 2021 schedule following the COVID-19 pandemic might have made it easy to forget who’s good and what’s worth remembering since Alex Bowman took the checkered flag in March 2020.

That’s where we come in. With help from Racing Insights, take a look at some of the storylines and statistics to be aware of heading into this weekend’s Xfinity and Cup series races.

MORE: Xfinity Series race info | Cup Series race info

Cup Series

— Stage 1 winners are a perfect 4-for-4 in winning the race at Auto Club Speedway since stage racing was introduced in 2017. That list of winners includes Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Bowman.

Austin Cindric enters Sunday’s race as the first rookie to lead the Cup points standings since 2002, when Jimmie Johnson was atop the leaderboard.

— Chevrolet leads the way with seven victories in the last 12 races in Fontana. Toyota follows up with four wins in that span. Brad Keselowski‘s 2015 triumph is Ford’s only Auto Club win since Matt Kenseth won in 2009.

— In each of the last four Fontana contests, the eventual winner led at least 54% of the race. Larson led 110 laps; Truex 125; Busch 134; and Bowman 110.

— Twenty-four of the 31 Auto Club races have been won by series champions. Bowman is the only driver without a title to win at Fontana in the last 15 races.

— The Daytona 500 marked the first race in 138 days not won by Hendrick Motorsports. Yes, the offseason factors into this stat, but Hendrick did win the final five races of 2021. The last organization to win before Team Penske’s celebration one week ago was 23XI Racing, which went to Victory Lane last October at Talladega Superspeedway with Bubba Wallace.

— Auto Club’s asphalt is the oldest on the circuit, using the original pavement laid down when the track was founded in 1996. The only track with an older surface is Dover Motor Speedway, which laid its concrete down in 1995.

— Ten different organizations finished inside the top 12 at the Daytona 500: Team Penske, 23XI Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Front Row Motorsports, Rick Ware Racing, RFK Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Petty GMS Motorsports, and Kaulig Racing.

William Byron holds the longest active streak of races led at Auto Club, with laps led in each of the last three contests.

Chase Elliott boasts a series-best average finish of 9.4 at Auto Club in five starts. In 22 starts, however, Kyle Busch holds the second-best mark with a 9.59 average finish.

Xfinity Series

— There have been six different winners in the last six races at Auto Club: Kevin Harvick, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Cole Custer and Harrison Burton.

— Custer returns to Xfinity for the first time since Circuit of the Americas last season and only the second time since joining the Cup Series in 2020. A seven-race winner in 2019, Custer will drive the No. 07 Ford for SS Green Light Racing.

— In four of the last seven Fontana races, the pass for the win has come within the final nine laps. That includes a last-lap pass in 2016 when Dillon got by Kyle Busch, who suffered a flat tire, and Daniel Suarez, who ran out of fuel.

Noah Gragson has won three of the last 11 Xfinity races but has zero top 10s in two Auto Club starts. His best finish was 12th in 2019.

— The series has witnessed eight different winners in the past eight races dating back to last season, including first-time winners Brandon Brown, Daniel Hemric and Austin Hill.

Anthony Alfredo finished seventh a week ago at Daytona International Speedway, marking his 10th top-10 finish in 20 career Xfinity starts.

Brandon Jones has seven top 10s in his last nine races. Two years ago in Fontana, Jones won the pole and both stages, leading the opening 73 laps before contact with Hemric after a late restart relegated Jones to a 30th-place finish.

— Hemric has eight top 10s in his last 10 races and has never finished worse than 11th in three Auto Club starts.

Ryan Blaney wins NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600
Getty Images

CONCORD, N.C. — It was the longest wait for the longest race, and it ended on a very long day. And it marked the end of a long winless streak.

Ryan Blaney sprinted away from William Byron in the closing laps of Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and ended a 59-race winless streak.

Byron finished second and was followed by Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick.

Blaney pushed through several late-race restarts and held on to finally write finish to a frustrating losing string.

“You start to feel like you can’t win any more when you don’t win for a while,” an emotional Blaney said after the race.

Following the lead of his Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden, who won Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 and went into the stands to celebrate with fans, Blaney ran into the CMS frontstretch grandstands after grabbing the checkered flag.

Contender Kyle Larson lost control of his car on a restart with 26 laps to go, starting a crash that also involved Joey Logano, Ty Gibbs and Christopher Bell.

The race was postponed by rain Sunday and was delayed by showers Monday. Rain had soaked the track most of the weekend, postponing the Cup and Xfinity Series races and cancelling Saturday night’s Cup practice and qualifying. Monday’s forecast was better, but the weather refused to cooperate. Rain interrupted the Xfinity race, which started at 11 a.m., and another shower stopped the Cup race during the second stage.

Charlotte Motor Speedway, which advertises itself as “America’s Home for Racing,” had become America’s home for raining.

A mid-race collision between Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin left their cars seriously damaged and their feelings hurt. They were racing in close quarters on lap 186 when extended contact between the two cars sent Hamlin hard into the wall, resulting in major front-end damage. Elliott’s car sustained serious rear damage.

Hamlin said Elliott had a “tantrum” and that he should be suspended for the next race for what Hamlin called “a right rear hook.” Elliott denied intentionally wrecking Hamlin.

A few laps earlier, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski crashed.

The third-stage win went to Blaney. Following were Reddick, Truex, Byron and Ty Gibbs.

Chris Buescher won the second stage, leading Kevin Harvick, Keselowski, Joey Logano and Gibbs.

Byron won the first stage, leading a three-way battle with Christopher Bell and Blaney on the 100th lap. Bell was second, Blaney third, Reddick fourth and Truex Jr. fifth.

A crash involving Bubba Wallace and Aric Almirola resulted in the drivers having a tense red-flag discussion. Almirola shoved Wallace before the altercation was broken up.

Stage 1 winner: William Byron

Stage 2 winner: Chris Buescher

Stage 3 winner: Ryan Blaney

Who had a good race: Ryan Blaney had the day’s fastest car and held off a following herd over the final miles. … William Byron was strong throughout the race but couldn’t challenge Blaney at the end.

Who had a bad race: Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson had a tough day in his third race of the year. He lost control of his car in Turn 2 74 laps into the race and slapped the outside wall. He lost a lap in the pits and ultimately finished last. … Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin had top-10 cars but both left the race after a controversial collision near the halfway point.

Next: The series moves on to World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois for a June 4 race at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott involved in big crash at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott were involved in a big crash midway through Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and each blamed the other.

Elliott’s car slapped the outside wall near the start-finish line, and his car made contact with Hamlin’s Toyota, sending Hamlin slamming into the wall. The front end of Hamlin’s car was smashed. Elliott’s Chevrolet also was damaged.

Both drivers parked for the evening, and neither was happy.

Hamlin said Elliott had a “tantrum” and said he should be suspended from next week’s race.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Elliott had a different view.

“The 11 (Hamlin) put me in the fence, and once you take the right sides off these things it’s kind of over,” he said. “Once you hit the wall in these things, you can’t drive them any more.”

Elliott denied intentionally hitting Hamlin, saying the crash was “unfortunate circumstances.”

Brad Keselowski hit the rear of Elliott’s car after the initial contact between Hamlin and Elliott.

After the crash, Hamlin tweeted data in support of his contention that Elliott drove into him.




More rain postpones conclusion of Charlotte Xfinity race


CONCORD, N.C. — Despite an improving forecast, rain continued to plague NASCAR and its drivers Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The twice-rescheduled Xfinity Series race was stopped twice because of weather Monday after finally getting the green flag, and the conclusion of the 300-mile race was postponed until after the completion of Monday’s rescheduled 600-mile Cup Series race.

Forty-eight of the race’s scheduled 200 laps were completed before weather and the impending scheduled start of the Cup race intervened.

When (or if) the race resumes Monday night, it will be broadcast by FS2, the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

After 48 laps, Ty Gibbs, John Hunter Nemechek and Justin Allgaier are in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first stage.

Monday Charlotte Cup race: Start time, TV info, weather


After two days of soaking rains, the longest race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is set for a 3 p.m. ET start Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The 600-mile marathon was scheduled for a 6:21 p.m. start Sunday, but persistent rain forced a postponement to Memorial Day.

A look at the Monday Cup schedule:

Details for Monday’s Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 3:12 p.m. by USO official Barry Morris and retired drivers Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte. … The green flag is scheduled to be waved at 3:23 p.m.

PRERACE: Driver introductions are scheduled at 2:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given by retired Air Force Master Sergeant Monty Self at 3 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Elizabeth Marino at 3:04 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 400 laps (600 miles) on the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 100. Stage 2 ends at Lap 200. Stage 3 ends at Lap 300.

STARTING LINEUP: Charlotte Cup starting lineup

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 3 p.m. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 3 p.m. and can be heard on … SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground — The forecast calls for overcast skies with a high of 71. There is a 15% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Denny Hamlin won last year’s 600 as the race was extended to two overtimes, making it the longest race in distance in Cup history.