There are some races during the season that make you question whether it was good or bad, and then there are races where something bad can make a good race.
Here’s what I mean: After Saturday’s Nationwide race at California there was some concern over how the tires were going to wear, or if they were going to last. Keep this in mind, the Auto Club Speedway has not gone under a repave in 11 years, with the last time being in 2003. The surface is worn, and has sealer in the cracks of the track. However, at the same time, drivers love this track because there are so many lines, and the old surface makes a driver test their talent because of the extreme drop off in times.
Tires began to blister badly in the Nationwide race, and soon during the Sprint Cup event had the same thing occur. It would not be weird to see tires blow after 25 laps. During each round of pit stops, minus the last one but more explanation of that to come, it was a constant stream of getting four new tires.
It was reminiscent of Darlington before it got new asphalt, but the tires there wouldn’t blow. In essence they just were bad after two laps because the surface was pretty much like running on glass and gravel. Here, at least there was some good give in the tires, but it was extreme to the point where teams were hoping to have enough sets of tires to make it to the finish.
With just a few laps to go, this became critical. Leader Jimmie Johnson suddenly had his left-front tire go down, while laps before teammate and second-place runner Jeff Gordon began complaining of a vibration. After Johnson’s problem, another three cars had issues with blown tires. It was right on the cusp of being when tires were going to give out, and it made for an interesting situation. What made the final caution in the race for that series of blown tires interesting is teams knew that tires were needed to get to the end, but the question was would some gamble and go with just two.
This was where it got interesting because some teams did, but what was the failure is that teams went with right-sides. It was the left-sides that were troublesome all day long.
In the end, the four-tire call of Kyle Busch’s team that won the race, but at that time everyone knew some teams were going to gamble with just two tires, but in the end it was obvious what would work and what wouldn’t.
The fans got an exciting race from the green flag to the checkered. It sounds odd that something that is bad for the drivers could make a good race. But, in this case, that is exactly what happened.
RESULTS: 1-Kyle Busch 2-Larson 3-Kurt Busch 4-Kenseth 5-Stewart 6-McMurray 7-Vickers 8-Allmendinger 9-Menard 10-Edwards
NOTABLE FINISHES: 12-Earnhardt Jr. 13-Gordon 24-Johnson 26-Keselowski 36-Harvick 41-Kahne
CAUTIONS: 9 for 42 laps. Lap 20-23 (Debris from #4-FS), 44-47 (#88 Accident-T2), 58-60 (#14 Spin-BS), 71-74 (#33, 43 Accident-FS), 87-90 (#30 Accident-T4), 119-122 (#99 Spin-T2), 142-148 (Debris-T3), 168-173 (#38, 98 Accident-T4), 199-204 (#15 Spin-T4).
LEAD CHANGES: 35 among 15 drivers. Kenseth POLE, Keselowski 1-9, Bowyer 10, Keselowski 11-20, Ragan 21, Keselowski 22, Kyle Bush 23-26, Keselowski 27-43, Gilliland 44, Cassill 45, Johnson 46, Vickers 47, Johnson 48-57, Bowyer 58, Keselowski 59, Johnson 60-70, Newman 71-73, Kenseth 74-83, Johnson 84-86, Kenseth 87, Nemechek 88, Kenseth 89-90, Johnson 91-105, Gordon 106-119, Sorenson 120, Kenseth 121-126, Johnson 127-142, Gordon 143, Reutimann 144, Johnson 145-167, Gordon 168, Johnson 169-193, Gordon 194-200, Cassill 201-203, Kurt Busch 204-205, Kyle Busch 206.
TIME OF RACE: 3 hrs, 5 Mins, 53 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 132.987 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.214 Seconds
POINT STANDINGS: 1. Edwards, 186 points; 2. Earnhardt Jr, -1; 3. Gordon, -2; 4. Keselowski, -4; 5. Kenseth, -7; 6. Johnson, -21; 7. Kyle Busch, -28; 8. Newman, -36; 9. Dillon, -36; 10. Logano, -40.