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.
— 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.
— 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.
— 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.