Auto Club Speedway in California is the site of the Nationwide Royal Purple 300. California is a wide two mile track that allows the drivers to pick and choose a lane. Fast is also the way to describe this track. Drivers will be bringing the cars into turn one nearing 200 mph. Today’s race should be entertaining, and do not be surprised if the race comes down to fuel mileage.
Code spotter code shown during the pre race today was “scuffs”.
The cars have come to life by the command of Howie Mandel, and we are almost ready to get racing underway. Leading the field to the green flag today is pole sitter Carl Edwards with Kevin Harvick starting second. Last week’s Nationwide winner Kyle Busch starts in the seventh position. Another driver to keep an eye on today was the winner from Las Vegas, Mark Martin, starting in the eighth position.
Just before the race started, ESPN showed an interesting stat for California. California had the most speeding penalties in a race last year with 12. This will be another item to keep an eye on when pit stops come around.Molly Ringwald waves the green flag and the field is off into turn. Harvick beats Edwards out of turn two and will lead them the rest of the way around for the first lap. With just one lap completed, cars are all over the track through the turns searching for a line that allows the driver to stay on the throttle. Again, this is a feature of California that makes for some decent racing. Lap three now and Edwards moves to the front. Lap five and put Harvick back to the point.
Lap 7 and the caution comes out for debris on the front stretch. ESPN does a good job of showing some sheet metal on the track, so this will not be phantom caution that we are sometime accustomed to. Derrike Cope actually lost a right rear tire that caused the debris to put down on the track.
Edwards decides to pit from second position along with a few of the other leaders. Baby Joey Logano is pitting and has the hood of the car up to raise the front end to keep the splitter off of the ground. The cars that did stop appear to not have taken any tires, but filled up the gas tank and made adjustments.
The green flag is back out and Aric Almirola beats Harvick back into the turn one to take the lead. Alex Kennedy spins off of turn two, but no caution will be displayed as he is back underway. Lap 13 and Harvick goes back to the lead off of turn two.
Caution comes out while ESPN was at commercial. Jennifer Jo Cobb spun he car and got into the grass. It looks as though all the cars on the lead lap will be in for stops. Reed Sorenson and Kyle Busch are the first two off of pit road.
Charles Lewandoski leads the field back up to speed as the green flag comes out on lap 24. Lewandoski did not pit under the caution and inherited the lead in that manner. Mark Martin gets past a gaggle of cars in turn two and leads the race. Coming off of turn four Stephen Wallace spins and goes through the front stretch grass. Wallace ran up the hill and caught the back end of another and went for the ride. Wallace has front end damage that will require repair. Wallace was running 14th when he spun.
Martin brings the field back to life and Edwards goes to the lead on the low side. Trevor Bayne now looks to take the lead going into turn three. Edwards is able to rally and hold the lead. There has been a lot of good racing so far when the field is under green. Hopefully some laps can be logged now to get a better idea of who has a good car.
Lap 39 Harvick goes back to the lead by passing Edwards. Harvick has a smooth running car and is working the high side to perfection at this point.
Lap 56 and Harvick continues to lead the race. Interesting stat on Harvick with leading laps today, Harvick has now led over 7,000 laps in the Nationwide Series. Only two other drivers have led over 7,000 laps in the series, Mark Martin and Kyle Busch.
Lap 62 and green flag pit stops begin with Brad Keselowski bring his car in for four tires and fuel.
Lap 63 and Blake Koch has hammered the wall with the right side of the car with a blown front tire. Pit road was closed the first time by and cars are going to be close on fuel getting back for service. Cars are running on the apron to ensure that fuel is getting into the pickup. All the cars make it back around and the lead lap cars are on pit road. Everyone will need four tires and fuel on this stop because of the long green flag run. Edwards leads them off pit road with Busch being second followed by Bayne.
The green flag comes back out on lap 68 and Edwards battles Busch into turn one. Busch gets the advantage off of turn two and holds on to lead the lap. Lap 70 and Edwards leads the lap and is battling Busch. One car is taking the high side, with the other low. There is entertaining racing all over the track after the restart.
Www.troubleinturntwo.com considers our honorary home to be Indianapolis, so we want to take a moment to congratulate the Butler Bulldogs on earning their second consecutive trip to the Final Four by beating Florida today. The game just went final after an overtime session to settle the matter.
Lap 93 and the caution is displayed for Jeremy Clements. Clements appeared to have lost a tire and got into the turn two wall. This caution comes at an interesting point in the race. Cars cannot make it to the end with this stop, but they will probably take four and fuel and then fuel only at the end. Who knows though, and we will see what happens. Edwards brings the lead lap cars onto to pit road for service. Harvick leads them off of pit road with Edwards second and Busch in third.
Green flag comes back out and Busch runs down low and attempts to take the lead. Harvick, Busch, and Edwards battle for the front spot on the track. Edwards wins out at the start finish line by leading the 98th lap. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. now jumps out to the lead. There is great racing again immediately following the restart.
Back from commercial break on ESPN and Edwards has gone back to the point. Harvick is now up to second and starting to close in on Edwards who has about a 20 car length lead. There are 38 laps to go in the race at this point.
Lap 115 and Harvick is back to the lead. The way the racing is going; Harvick and Edwards are going to trade the lead back and forth until the end of the race.
Twenty five laps to go and Harvick has stretched the lead a little bit. Strategy is being discussed on what to do with the last stop. The belief is that no one in the field can make it to the end. The question is whether to take two or four tires on the last stop. Brad Keselowski is now the first car in for the last stop with 23 laps to go.
Nineteen laps to go and Edwards is in for his final stop. Edwards takes four tires on his stop. Seventeen to go and Harvick is now in for his stop. Harvick takes four tires and fuel on his stop. Many cars are now in for their final stop. Busch stops and takes two tires and has a big lead over Edwards and Harvick. The lead is almost the length of the backstretch. There are 13 laps to go.
Seven laps to go and Busch continues to lead, but Edwards is cutting into the lead. I do not think there will be enough time for Edwards to catch to him. There are five laps to go and it does not look like Busch is going to be caught. Edwards is still more than two seconds behind. As long as the caution does not come out, Busch is going to win another Nationwide Series race.
Rowdy Busch made it interesting on the last lap, but in the end he takes the checkered flag. Busch got into the wall off of turn two and lost momentum going down the backstretch. Although Busch slowed, it was not enough for Edwards to catch him. Edwards finished second, while Harvick took third, fourth was Stenhouse Jr. and rounding out the top five was Elliot Sadler.
I will readily admit that I am not a fan of Kyle Busch, but he is just amazingly good. I am just amazed at when it is time to go and the chips are on the table, Busch makes it happen.
Two races tomorrow to watch. IZOD IndyCar series gets underway early afternoon in Florida, and then the Sprint Cup race at California. Please be sure to check back at www.troubleinturntwo.com tomorrow for recaps and thoughts on those two events.