Johnson powers past Harvick for Sprint Cup win at Fontana

March 20, 2016
 
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
 
FONTANA, Calif. – Jimmie Johnson won the battle between hometown heroes on Sunday, outdueling Kevin Harvick in overtime at Auto Club Speedway.
 
“Awesome teamwork, boys!” Johnson shouted on his radio after taking the 77th checkered flag of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, breaking a tie with the late Dale Earnhardt for seventh on the all-time victory list. “There’s nothing like winning at home.”
 
The six-time series champion from El Cajon got the chance he needed when Kyle Busch blew a tire and hit the Turn 3 wall on Lap 198 of a scheduled 200 to cause the sixth and final caution of the afternoon. With

FONTANA, CA - MARCH 20:  Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 American Ethanol Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John's Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 American Ethanol Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

the race destined for overtime, the lead-lap cars came to pit road for new tires, with Denny Hamlin leading Harvick and Johnson back onto the track.

 
Hamlin chose the outside lane for a restart on Lap 204, leaving Johnson behind Harvick in the inside lane. Johnson pushed Harvick clear of Hamlin into Turn 1 and dived to the inside of the race’s dominant driver, who had led 142 laps to that point.
 
Johnson stayed in the gas off Turn 2, ultimately clearing Harvick and pulling away to win by .772 seconds. The victory was Johnson’s second of the 2016 season and his sixth in 22 starts at the two-mile track.
 
“I got a great run off of Turn 2, and I thought ‘Man I’ve got a shot at this thing,’” Johnson said of the opening lap of the final restart. “Which I didn’t expect to have. Harvick has been so fast. I cleared him and kind of got away. 
 

FONTANA, CA - MARCH 20:  Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John's Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
“We saved our best for last, for sure. I told everybody Superman kicked Batman’s butt and it happened (teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. was driving the Batman car and finished 11th).”
 
Driving a No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet adorned with a “Superman” logo to plug the movie “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” Johnson led 25 laps, but his rival from Bakersfield had dominated the event until the final restart.
 
“That sucks,” said Harvick, who has finished second 20 times in 77 events since joining Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, his championship season. “Just way too tight right there. Couldn’t put the throttle down. Wouldn’t turn.”
 
Harvick described the late-race caution as a “worst-case scenario.”
 
“We weren’t very good on restarts for four or five laps, unless we were all by ourselves,” said Harvick, who nevertheless retained the series lead by 11 points over Johnson. “The No. 48 was able to hang with us, and we just weren’t able to drive it in like I needed to, just didn’t have the front tires turning and

during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California.
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s / Superman Chevrolet, celebrates after taking the checkered flag during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

the back wouldn’t grip. 

 
“Still, a good day for us. … We’ll keep at it.”
 
Hamlin ran third, overcoming radio problems that left him mired in traffic early in the race. Joey Logano ran fourth, followed by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who notched his first top five since last year’s spring race at Bristol.
 
Rookie Chase Elliott, Carl Edwards, AJ Allmendinger, Brad Keselowski and Jamie McMurray completed the top 10. Polesitter Austin Dillon finished 24th, after a loose wheel forced him to return to pit road after stops under caution on Lap 110.
 
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Auto Club 400
Auto Club Speedway
Fontana, California
Sunday, March 20, 2016
 
               1. (19) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 205.
               2. (2) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 205.
               3. (3) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 205.
               4. (9) Joey Logano, Ford, 205.
               5. (18) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 205.
               6. (8) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 205.
               7. (5) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 205.
               8. (11) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 205.
               9. (15) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 205.
               10. (10) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 205.
               11. (27) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 205.
               12. (21) Brian Scott #, Ford, 205.
               13. (24) Brian Vickers, Chevrolet, 205.
               14. (4) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 205.
               15. (13) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 205.
               16. (34) Landon Cassill, Ford, 205.
               17. (23) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 205.
               18. (29) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 205.
               19. (20) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 205.
               20. (7) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 205.
               21. (25) Aric Almirola, Ford, 205.
               22. (35) David Ragan, Toyota, 205.
               23. (28) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 205.
               24. (1) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 205.
               25. (6) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 205.
               26. (36) * Cole Whitt, Chevrolet, 205.
               27. (33) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 205.
               28. (12) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 205.
               29. (38) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 205.
               30. (26) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 205.
               31. (30) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 205.
               32. (17) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 204.
               33. (16) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 204.
               34. (39) Jeffrey Earnhardt #, Ford, 200.
               35. (14) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, Accident, 195.
               36. (37) * Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 195.
               37. (22) Greg Biffle, Ford, Engine, 146.
               38. (31) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, Accident, 120.
               39. (32) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Accident, 46.
 
Average Speed of Race Winner:  137.213 mph.
Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 59 Mins, 17 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.772 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  6 for 33 laps.
Lead Changes:  26 among 8 drivers.
Lap Leaders:    0; K. Harvick 1-28; C. Edwards 29-33; K. Harvick 34; C. Edwards 35-36; K. Harvick 37-52; J. Logano 53; K. Harvick 54-70; M. Truex Jr. 71-77; J. Johnson 78-82; C. Elliott # 83; M. Kenseth 84-85; K. Harvick 86-105; J. Johnson 106-109; M. Truex Jr. 110; K. Harvick 111-113; J. Johnson 114-123; M. Truex Jr. 124-136; K. Harvick 137-157; J. Johnson 158-159; C. Edwards 160-161; J. Johnson 162-163; J. Logano 164-165; K. Harvick 166-200; D. Hamlin 201-202; K. Harvick 203; J. Johnson 204-205.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Harvick 9 times for 142 laps; J. Johnson 6 times for 25 laps; M. Truex Jr. 3 times for 21 laps; C. Edwards 3 times for 9 laps; J. Logano 2 times for 3 laps; M. Kenseth 1 time for 2 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 2 laps; C. Elliott # 1 time for 1 lap.
Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 195; J. Johnson – 184; C. Edwards – 171; D. Hamlin – 170; Kyle Busch – 170; J. Logano – 165; Kurt Busch – 148; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 145; B. Keselowski – 142; A. Dillon – 139; M. Truex Jr. – 127; J. Mcmurray – 125; A. Almirola – 120; R. Stenhouse Jr. – 119; M. Kenseth – 113; C. Elliott # – 110.

Austin Dillon saves fuel, wins XFINITY thriller at Fontana

Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images

March 19, 2016
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service

FONTANA, Calif. – Seconds after crossing the finish line .715 seconds ahead of runner-up Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon summed up Saturday’s TreatMyClot.com 300 by Janssen in one short sentence.

“I’d rather be lucky than good,” Dillon chortled on his team radio after ending evading Busch’s last-ditch attempt to pinch the winning No. 2 Chevrolet into the outside wall at Auto Club Speedway.

And that was just the final stanza of a crazy final lap that saw: 1) Busch slow to a crawl, short on fuel; 2) Daniel Suárez take the lead from his Joe Gibbs racing teammate on the backstretch, only to run out of fuel; 3) Busch regain the lead despite cutting a left front tire on his final lap; and 4) Dillon come from a half-lap down to pass Busch as the drivers approached the finish line.

Dillon led only one lap, but it was the lap that counted.

“Well, I just had to stay focused,” said Dillon, who did a masterful job of saving fuel in snapping Busch’s three-race winning streak. “(My team) said (Busch) had a flat. I was worried about our fuel and stayed focused on that the whole time.

“He tried to screw me right there at the end, but it didn’t work out for him, did it? I’m proud of these guys. Man, that was fun. I didn’t think we had a car to do that, and we didn’t, but we did what we had to do to win the race…

“Sometimes things just go your way, and today they definitely did.”

Busch, on the other hand, led 133 of the 150 laps and appeared destined to tie Sam Ard’s record of four victories in as many consecutive races. In fact, Joe Gibbs Racing seemed headed for its third straight 1-2-3 finish before Erik Jones ran out of fuel on the next-to-last lap, Daniel Suárez emptied his tank a lap later, and Busch cut his tire after taking the white flag.

The victory was Dillon’s first of the season, first at the two-mile track and seventh of his career.

Darrell Wallace Jr. finished third, and Suárez limped across the finish line in fourth place, maintaining a 10-point lead over fifth-place finisher Elliott Sadler in the series standings. Kevin Harvick, Brendan Gaughan, Kyle Larson, Brandon Jones and Justin Allgaier completed the top 10.

Second with two laps left, Jones came home 15th, one lap down.

during the NASCAR Xfinity Series TreatMyClot.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway on March 19, 2016 in Fontana, California.
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 NOS Energy Drink Toyota, and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 ENEOS Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Xfinity Series TreatMyClot.com 300 at Auto Club Speedway on March 19, 2016 in Fontana, California. Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images

After pit stops under caution on Lap 101, Suárez came up a half-lap short of his elusive first victory.

“In the whole run we were saving fuel,” Suárez said. “I knew that we were one to one-and-a-half laps short. I was saving fuel. I wasn’t worrying about the 20 (Jones) or 18 (Busch). I was just trying to finish the race, because I knew that we were short. I knew that the 20 was a little bit shorter than us and eventually he ran out. When he ran out I started saving more because I knew that I had more fuel than him, but not a lot.

“I was just trying to save as much as I can. I passed the 18 when he blew the left front tire in (Turns) 1 and 2, and on the exit of 2 I ran out of fuel, and on the exit of four the 2 (Dillon) and the 18 passed me back. Very unfortunate, but it’s part of racing. I really think that our first victory is coming and hopefully we can get it very soon.”

The pole winner for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX), Dillon will try to complete a career-first weekend sweep in the Auto Club 400.

Note: Wallace’s car failed post-race Laser Inspection Station. NASCAR will determine next week if a penalty is warranted.

NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – TreatMyClot.com 300 by Janssen
Auto Club Speedway
Fontana, California
Saturday, March 19, 2016

1. (6) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 150.
2. (3) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 150.
3. (13) Darrell Wallace Jr., Ford, 150.
4. (1) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 150.
5. (5) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 150.
6. (17) Kevin Harvick(i), Chevrolet, 150.
7. (15) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 150.
8. (4) Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 150.
9. (14) Brandon Jones #, Chevrolet, 150.
10. (20) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 150.
11. (16) Aric Almirola(i), Ford, 150.
12. (8) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 150.
13. (9) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 149.
14. (10) Ryan Reed, Ford, 149.
15. (2) Erik Jones #, Toyota, 149.
16. (7) Jeb Burton, Ford, 149.
17. (12) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 149.
18. (32) Corey LaJoie, Toyota, 149.
19. (19) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 149.
20. (11) Ryan Blaney(i), Ford, 148.
21. (18) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 148.
22. (21) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 148.
23. (27) Garrett Smithley #, Chevrolet, 148.
24. (26) Spencer Gallagher(i), Chevrolet, 148.
25. (24) Ryan Preece #, Chevrolet, 148.
26. (35) Mario Gosselin, Chevrolet, 147.
27. (25) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 147.
28. (31) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 145.
29. (23) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 145.
30. (39) Todd Peck, Ford, 141.
31. (40) Cody Ware #, Chevrolet, 140.
32. (38) Mike Harmon, Dodge, 139.
33. (37) BJ McLeod #, Ford, Engine, 95.
34. (34) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, Engine, 89.
35. (36) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, Engine, 84.
36. (22) Dylan Lupton, Chevrolet, Accident, 56.
37. (33) Ray Black Jr. #, Chevrolet, Accident, 44.
38. (29) David Starr, Toyota, Engine, 30.
39. (28) Josh Wise(i), Toyota, Vibration, 18.
40. (30) Matt DiBenedetto(i), Toyota, Brakes, 2.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  143.008 mph.
Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 05 Mins, 52 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.714 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  4 for 16 laps.
Lead Changes:  12 among 8 drivers.
Lap Leaders:   D. Suarez 1-4; K. Busch(i) 5-11; J. Wise(i) 12; K. Busch(i) 13; K. Larson(i) 14; K. Busch(i) 15-32; B. Gaughan 33-34; K. Larson(i) 35-38; K. Busch(i) 39-73; A. Almirola(i) 74-76; R. Preece # 77; K. Busch(i) 78-149; A. Dillon(i) 150;.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Busch(i) 5 times for 133 laps; K. Larson(i) 2 times for 5 laps; D. Suarez 1 time for 4 laps; A. Almirola(i) 1 time for 3 laps; B. Gaughan 1 time for 2 laps; R. Preece # 1 time for 1 lap; A. Dillon(i) 1 time for 1 lap; J. Wise(i) 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 10 in Points: D. Suarez – 182; E. Sadler – 172; J. Allgaier – 163; B. Jones # – 161; T. Dillon – 159; B. Gaughan – 154; E. Jones # – 152; D. Wallace Jr. – 134; R. Reed – 133; B. Poole – 130.

SUNY CANTON EXPANDS SPONSORSHIP AT UTICA-ROME SPEEDWAY BY BECOMING TITLE SPONSOR OF THE 602 CRATE SPORTMAN DIVISION

VERNON, NY- For the 2016, the State University of New York in Canton has stepped up its sponsorship at the Utica-Rome Speedway by becoming the title sponsor of the popular 602 Crate Sportsman division.  For the 2016 campaign, the class will be referred to as the SUNY Canton 602 Sportsman.  SUNY Canton has had a long relationship with Utica-Rome Speedway in the past and that will continue into the upcoming season.
The 602 Sportsman division is the region’s fastest growing division as the motor costs are controlled, allowing racers to enter an open wheeled Modified type class with minimal engine expenses.  Like students at SUNY Canton starting their professional career, the 602 Sportsman division is a great place for drivers to start their racing careers.
SUNY Canton’s sprawling 555-acre campus borders the Grasse River and is within walking distance of downtown Canton.  Founded in 1906, the university currently offers 23 career driven bachelor degrees, 22 associate degrees, and five one-year professional certificate programs.  SUNY Canton’s areas of study fall into three unique schools which include The Canino School of Engineering Technology, The School of Business and Liberal Arts, and The School of Health, Science, and Criminal Justice.  Courses are also offered online with nearly 200 courses available each semester and 10 bachelor degrees available as well.  Students are taught by faculty members that are noted for their real world hands on experience in addition to their academic credentials.  With an enrollment of around 3,200 students, the student to faculty ration is 17 to 1.  For everything that SUNY Canton has to offer, please log on to www.canton.edu.
The Utica-Rome Speedway season is set to begin on Sunday April 17 with Twin 20 lap features scheduled for the Gates-Cole Insurance Modifieds plus a full show of SUNY Canton 602 Sportsman, Broedel Energy Open Sportsman, and Pro Stocks.  On Saturday April 9, an open practice will also be held for all division.  For more information, please log on to www.uticaromespeedway.com or call the speedway office at (315)829-4557.

 

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