Kasey Kahne Hopes To Win The Auto Club 400 In His Sponsor’s Own Backyard

Kasey Kahne

FARMERS IN FONTANA: Kasey Kahne will pilot the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS this weekend in Fontana, California. The longtime Hendrick Motorsports partner, based in Los Angeles, will adorn the No. 5 Chevrolet SS 12 times this season. The 36-year-old most recently drove the Farmers Insurance paint scheme to a fourth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

KASEY AT FONTANA: For the fifth race of the season, the NASCAR Cup Series stops at its first two-mile track on the circuit. Kahne earned the pole position in May 2004 in his first Cup start at the Fontana, California, track. The pole award marked his third of four total during his Cup rookie season. In his sixth start – September 2006 – at Fontana, Kahne captured the win and crossed the finish line with a 3.427-second lead over Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kahne has an average starting position of 11.8 and an average finish of 16.6 at the track.

FONTANA LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR’s loop data since 2005, Kahne has an average driver rating of 88.6, which ranks him eighth among active drivers. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. During the same span, he ranks fifth in green flag passes with 1,436. He’s sixth for laps spent in the top 15 with 2,424, and sixth in quality passes with 787. Quality passes are the number of times a driver passes another car that is running in the top 15 while under green-flag conditions. The Enumclaw, Washington, native is seventh in the fastest laps run category with 113.

THIS SEASON: After a 20th-place result last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, Kahne still has an average finish of 10.8 this season, which ranks him fifth among full-time 2017 Cup drivers.

SIGNING FOR THE KIDS: Kahne will participate in the kids autograph session at Fontana on Saturday, March 25, at 10:15 a.m. local time. The signing will take place in Lefty’s Fun Zone located in the fan midway. In order to receive a wristband, all children must be members of Lefty’s Kids Club and RSVP ahead of time.


“Happy Hour” Didn’t Make Harvick Very Happy

Kevin Harvick and Trevor Bayne

The final 10 minutes of Saturday morning’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Auto Club Speedway provided unwelcomed excitement for drivers Kevin “Happy” Harvick and David Ragan.

With roughly 10 minutes left in the 55-minute early-morning session, Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Fusion scraped the wall in Turn 4.

Harvick drove the car back to the garage, where the team began repairing the cosmetic damage to the right side to avoid going to a backup car and losing the seventh-place starting position earned in Friday’s qualifying session.

With three body men at the race track, the No. 4 team had ample time to fix the damage.

Ragan wasn’t as lucky. With time running out in the session, the driver of the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford Fusion pounded the Turn 3 wall after cutting a tire and destroyed the race car.

Forced to use a backup, Ragan will drop from his 27th starting position to the rear of the field for the green flag in Sunday’s Auto Club 400.

“We just cut a left-rear tire going down the back straightaway, and I tried to start slowing it down as quick as I could and just couldn’t slow it down fast enough,” Ragan said of the incident. “By the time I got to Turn 3, I was wrecking before I even got to the corner.

“It’s certainly unfortunate. I felt like our Camping World Ford was pretty decent. We made a few adjustments and hadn’t put new tires on yet, and I felt like our speeds hadn’t fallen off a lot, so it’s unfortunate.”


Kyle Larson Brushes The Wall In Final MENCS Practice At Auto Club Speedway


(photo courtesy Miles Elliott and Shane Smith)
Polesitter Kyle Larson and 13th-place starter Chase Elliott both had brushes with the outside wall during Saturday’s final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Auto Club Speedway.

The damage to the right side of Larson’s No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet SS was cosmetic, and in short order his team had the series leader back on track.

Elliott’s issue was more serious. Shortly after he posted the fastest lap in the session at 187.480 mph, the No. 24 Chevy’s contact with the wall pushed the right rear quarter panel into the rear deck lid and knocked the deck lid out of kilter.

As Final Practice ended, Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports team was evaluating possible chassis damage and trying to repair the car, but a final decision hadn’t been made as to whether Elliott will have to go to a backup and lose his starting spot in Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX).

“We had a part come loose on the left front, and it’s obviously something that needs to be together to make laps,” Elliott said of the cause of the accident. “I’m not real sure why it broke or why that happened. It was nothing fancy that we were doing. I was getting into (Turn) 3 at the time.

“I don’t know if it was some sort of roughness to the race track that bounced it loose, or what. I was really happy with the NAPA Chevy throughout that run. Unfortunately, this now puts us behind. But we’ll look into it and try to get this car fixed for tomorrow. We would love to keep this primary car. I don’t know if we can or not. I know they’ll work hard and try to get it tuned up for tomorrow.”

Both Busch brothers also had issues in final practice, with Kyle spinning late in the session and Kurt brushed the wall with his No. 41 Ford Fusion late in the final minutes.


Haas F1 Team Recaps Their Australian Grand Prix

Image result for haas f1 vf-17Haas F1 Team


Event:  Australian Grand Prix (Round 1 of 20)

Date:  Sunday, March 26

Location:  Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne

Layout:  5.303-kilometer (3.295-mile), 16-turn circuit

Weather:  Sunny

Air Temps:  23.8-24.8 degrees Celsius (74.8-76.6 degrees Fahrenheit)

Track Temps:  30.9-36.5 degrees Celsius (87.6-97.7 degrees Fahrenheit)

Race Winner:  Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Ferrari

Haas F1 Team:  

●  Kevin Magnussen – Started 17th, Finished 15th (Suspension, completed 46/57 laps)

●  Romain Grosjean – Started 6th, Finished 20th (Water leak, completed 13/57 laps)



Haas F1 Team entered the first round of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship with plenty of optimism. Unfortunately, the second-year team left the season-opening Australian Grand Prix Sunday at the Albert Park Circuit in Melbourne disappointed after suffering a double DNF (Did Not Finish) with drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean.


The optimism came in the form of Grosjean’s sixth-place qualifying effort the day before. It was the best qualifying performance by a Haas F1 Team driver in all 22 of the team’s qualifying attempts, dating back to its debut in last year’s Australian Grand Prix. The fast lap around the 5.303-kilometer (3.295-mile), 16-turn circuit showcased the speed available from the Haas VF-17, and while Magnussen qualified 17th due to running wide at turn 12 on his qualifying lap, he too felt the potential of Haas F1 Team’s second-generation car.


Grosjean used that potential to his advantage at the start of the race, deftly holding off and then pulling away from the Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jr. The bottleneck at turn one allowed the Williams of Felipe Massa to get ahead, but Grosjean quickly settled into seventh. A water leak later derailed Grosjean’s run, sending him to the garage after 13 laps.


Magnussen’s first bout of misfortune came on the opening lap when contact with the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson sent him into the turn-three gravel trap. Magnussen powered through the gravel and reemerged onto the track, albeit with a damaged front wing that necessitated a trip to pit lane. With a new wing and fresh tires, Magnussen returned to racing, but well down the running order. Then 11 laps short of the finish, a suspension issue likely stemming from the incident with Ericsson forced Magnussen to retire his racecar.


The end result left Magnussen 15th and Grosjean 20th in a race of attrition that saw five other drivers fail to finish.


Sebastian Vettel won the Australian Grand Prix emphatically over three-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton. Vettel’s margin of victory over the Mercedes driver was 9.975 seconds. It was Vettel’s and Scuderia Ferrari’s first victory since the 2015 Singapore Grand Prix. The win was the 43rd of Vettel’s Formula One career and his second at Albert Park.


Formula One takes a weekend off before returning to action for the Chinese Grand Prix April 9 at the Shanghai International Circuit.



“I suddenly lost a lot of power. I told the guys, then the next thing I knew I had to slow down the car. It’s a pretty disappointing result, but again, right now I’m hot and we’re all disappointed to lose a seventh-place position, but the car was there in qualifying in P6. The start wasn’t ideal, so we need to improve that. I felt I was faster than the Williams, so there’s huge potential in the car. I guess the key for us is to keep the momentum and get the consistency we didn’t have last year, where I’d be fifth in Bahrain then 19th in China. I really want to improve on that and get more consistency in terms of results. If we do that, then I’m sure there are going to be plenty of races where we can score good points. I’m feeling it right now, but tomorrow I’m going to wake up thinking, you know what, we’ve got a great car, so no matter what, we’re going to be there this year.”



“I had contact at turn three. I had Ericsson on the outside and I understeered into the side of him, which was unfortunate. I lost my front wing and damaged the car a little bit. We changed the front wing and then I went for a long test session to feel the car and learn a bit more about it, which was good. It feels good and the car is fast. That’s the really positive thing from this weekend. The car is there. We just have to make it finish and score points.”

“Not the race we wished for, or we expected. With Romain it looks like we had a water leak. We don’t know yet where that came from. Obviously, Kevin’s race was destroyed in the third corner after the contact with Ericsson. He then ended up later with a suspension failure, which we still have to investigate why. The good thing we take out of here is that the car seems to be fast. We need to work on a few parts and, hopefully, we can get back strong again in China in two weeks.”

Round 2 of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship is the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit. Practice begins April 7, qualifying takes place April 8 and the race runs April 9.



Haas F1 Team debuted in the FIA Formula One World Championship in 2016, becoming the first American Formula One team since 1986. Founded by industrialist Gene Haas, Haas F1 Team is based in the United States on the same Kannapolis, North Carolina, campus as his championship-winning NASCAR team, Stewart-Haas Racing. Haas is the founder of Haas Automation, the largest CNC machine tool builder in North America, and he is chairman of Haas F1 Team.


Blake Koch Perseveres To Finish 12th At Auto Club Speedway

Blake Koch

(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)

Kaulig Racing driver Blake Koch and the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection team finished 12th at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday, the final race in NASCAR’s west coast swing. Koch and the team persevered through changing track conditions to record a top-15 finish and advance into the top 10 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) standings.

“We’ve really closed out these last few races phenomenally,” said Koch. “Our beginning and middle of the race haven’t been exactly what we hoped for, but I’m happy to walk away from Fontana with a top-15 and make some gains in the points standings. We had great speed all weekend and I look forward to picking up where we left off in when we return to Texas in a couple of weeks.”

Koch and the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection team posted top-10 speeds in both NXS practice sessions on Friday afternoon before scoring an 11th-place starting position Saturday morning for the 150-lap Service King 300 at Auto Club Speedway. The track conditions for Saturday’s event wavered between cloud-cover and full sunshine throughout the 300-mile event.

After taking the green flag on the first 35-lap stage from the sixth row, Koch reported that his car was loose. He maintained the 21st position until the caution flag flew for the first time on Lap 29. Crew chief Chris Rice brought Koch down pit road under the caution flag to correct the loose condition with four fresh tires, fuel, wedge and air pressure adjustments. Koch restarted 25th with one lap remaining in Stage 1.

At the end of the first stage on Lap 35, Koch had made his way up to the 19th position and reported that the car fired off better on the last run. The team stayed out under the caution period to restart 19th on Lap 41, the start of Stage 2.

By Lap 60, Koch reported that the car had become a bit too tight as he raced for the 21st position. He held on to finish 20th when Stage 2 ended on Lap 70 before heading to the pits for his second pit stop of the day. On Lap 73, the team pitted for fresh tires, fuel, track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments. The quick work by the No. 11 crew put Koch 17th for the restart to signal the beginning of the final stage on Lap 77.

Four laps into the final stage, the caution flew while Koch was running 24th. He said the car was great at the beginning of the run, but he needed an adjustment to maintain that handling. Rice brought Koch down pit road under caution on Lap 84 for fresh tires, track bar and air pressure adjustments. Koch restarted 25th on Lap 88.

The team had another chance to make adjustments when the caution flag was displayed on Lap 94. Koch came to the attention of the crew for fresh tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. One lap before the field returned to green, Rice brought Koch down pit road once again to top off with fuel. Koch restarted 21st on Lap 104.

Just two laps after the restart, the caution was again displayed. Koch stayed out to gain track position, restarting 12th with 26 laps remaining in the race. He settled into the 16th position before the field was slowed by a caution with just 10 laps remaining in the race. Koch reported that the car was still a bit free, warranting another stop on Lap 143 for tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.

The field took the green flag for the final time with four laps remaining in the Service King 300. Koch battled side-by-side in the closing laps to cross the finish line 12th and tie his existing career-best finish at Auto Club Speedway.

Koch and the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection team leave Auto Club Speedway 10th in the NXS championship standings, gaining one spot. The team returns to racing action Saturday, April 8th, 2017 at Texas Motor Speedway.

About LeafFilter®
Since 2005, LeafFilter® has revolutionized the gutter protection industry. The company is proud to have grown from one small office in Hudson, Ohio to one of the largest home improvement companies in the nation and a leading choice in gutter systems. Once installed on a homeowner’s existing gutters, LeafFilter®  Gutter Protection eliminates gutter cleaning for life. The micro-mesh filter is 50 microns fine – so not even sand can get through. With more than 30 million feet of gutter guards installed on homes across America, LeafFilter® has the knowledge and expertise to guarantee that nothing but water will get into your gutters. To learn more about LeafFilter®, visit:  LeafFilter.com .

About Kaulig Racing™
Kaulig Racing™ is a full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series team, owned by president and owner of LeafFilter Gutter Protection®, Matt Kaulig. Blake Koch, driver of the No. 11 Kaulig Racing™ entry, has more than 180 starts in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Kaulig Racing™ currently has partnerships with some of America’s leading companies across a wide range of industries such as LeafFilter Gutter Protection®, Celsius, Salt Life and AQUAhydrate. To learn more about the team, visit KauligRacing.com.


Cole Custer Suffers A Bad Day At The Service King 300

Cole Custer

(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)
Date: March 25, 2017

Event: Service King 300 (Round 5 of 33)


Location: Auto Club Speedway (2-mile oval)

Format: 150 laps, broken into three stages (35 laps/35 laps/80 laps)

Start/Finish: 4th/35th (Running, completed 106 of 150 laps)

Point Standing: 12th (86 points, 103 out of first)


Race Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)



Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-35):

●  Cole Custer started 4th, finished 8th.

●  Custer noted a tight-handling condition that progressed through Stage 1.

 After the caution period on lap 30, Custer restarted the final two laps of Stage 1 in the sixth position.


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 36-70):         

●  Started 6th, finished 8th.

●  Custer continued to battle a tight-handling condition through Stage 2.

●  Custer ran consistently in the top 10.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 71-150):

●  Started 6th, finished 35th.

  After slight air pressure adjustments, Custer raced his way back to the third position.

●  During the lap 96 caution, Custer opted to pit and a jack malfunction caused Custer to restart in the 17th position.

 On lap 106, Custer was involved in an accident sending him into the wall and ending his day.


● Custer earned his career-best NASCAR XFINITY Series qualifying effort.

● Custer earned points in Stage 1 and Stage 2.

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:


Walk us through today’s race.

“I just got hooked going into the corner. I think I hit him (Ryan Sieg) a tick just on my side draft coming off of four and then he decided to hook us going into turn one and wreck us. It is what it is, but we’ll just move on. We had an awesome Haas Automation Ford Mustang. I thought we could have competed for a win there. We had a bad pit stop, but we were going to work our way back up there.”

Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule is the My Bariatric Solutions 300 on Saturday, April 8 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race starts at 1:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by Fox.


Logano Gets Edged Out For The Victory In The Service King 300


(photo courtesy Miles Elliott and Shane Smith)
Track:     Auto Club Speedway

Race:     Service King 300

Date:     March 25, 2017


No. 22 America’s Tire Ford Mustang – Joey Logano

Start:  1st – (32nd career pole)

Finish: 2nd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 150/150

Laps Led: 70

Owner’s Points Position (ahead of second): 1st (+33)


Recap: Joey Logano started from the pole and finished second on Saturday afternoon in the No. 22 America’s Tire Ford Mustang at Auto Club Speedway. Logano, who led a race high 70 laps, had anything but a relaxing Saturday afternoon drive at the two-mile Auto Club Speedway. On the first pitstop of the race at lap 29 the team executed a perfect pit stop, sending the No. 22 back out in the lead. However, Logano was penalized for speeding after running two fast down pit lane in sections two through nine. The team quickly diagnosed that the lights on the tachometer were inaccurate, but were able to recalculate and provide Logano with an accurate light count and RPM to use for the remainder of the event. The recalculation proved correct as Logano managed to avoid speeding for the rest of the afternoon.

Throughout the event, Logano found the handling of the No. 22 Mustang to his liking as he was able to rebound from the speeding penalty and drive his way back to the second position before the next round of stops. Crew chief Greg Erwin and the No. 22 team made minimal adjustments to the car throughout the race, using only minor air pressure changes and adding tape to the nose to increase down force.

When the team pitted with less than 50 laps remaining, trouble again found the team on pit lane, this time with the No. 22 Mustang falling off the jack, again relegating Logano to the back of the pack. Unfazed by the circumstances and having already rallied from the back previously in the event, Logano radioed the crew and assured them by saying: “we’ll get it back guys.” Again, the 26-year-old veteran driver wasted no time demonstrating the superiority of the No. 22 Ford, working his way back to the lead in 14 laps.

With just 11 laps remaining, eventual race winner Kyle Larson passed Logano’s Ford, but as fate would have it, another caution flag was displayed with 10 laps remaining. The call from Erwin was four tires and tape for the America’s Tire Mustang, pitting from the second position. The team came off pit road in the third position after another competitor opted for two tires, a move that would disadvantage Logano on the ensuing restart. Logano was able to get the No. 22 back to the second position and closed within .127 seconds on the final lap, bringing home the second consecutive second place finish for the team, and the third on the season.

The finishing position, along with the nine points from the second stage kept the No. 22 Ford Mustang in the lead of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Owner’s Points, leading second place by a margin of 33 points. While the team fell just one position shy of their desired finish, Logano’s determination was on full display having passed the entire field not once, but twice in the 150-lap event.


Quote:  “I vote for two races at Auto Club Speedway.  I’ll be the first to say that.  What an awesome race track.  It’s so much fun.  You can run anywhere you want.  The racing is great.  There is tire falloff.  There are bumps.  There’s everything here.  It’s the perfect race track.  I wish we came here more often because it’s the best race track we go to, so I’m excited about racing tomorrow.  I’m mad about not winning today is the best way to put it.  We had such a fast Discount Tire Ford today.  We qualified really good and obviously led a lot of laps.  We had the fastest car and didn’t win the race.  There’s a lot to look back at and understand exactly why.  Obviously, execution plays a big role in these races.  You can have the fastest car and if you don’t execute, you don’t win.


“Young Money” Holds Off “Sliced Bread” For The NXS Victory AT ACS


(photo courtesy Miles Elliott and Shane Smith)
Kyle Larson kept polesitter Joey Logano at bay after a restart with four laps left in Saturday’s Service King 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Auto Club Speedway and held on to win by .127 seconds.

Larson and Logano had swapped the lead on three successive laps before Brandon Jones plowed into the outside wall on Lap 142 to bring out the seventh and final caution of the afternoon.

The lead cars pitted for fresh tires under the yellow, with Larson exiting pit road first and Spencer Gallagher grabbing the second spot with a two-tire stop. That proved Logano’s undoing, as his No. 22 Team Penske Ford was pinned behind Gallagher’s GMS Racing Chevrolet for the restart on Lap 147 of 150.

Logano chased Larson to the checkered flag but couldn’t prevent the driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet from scoring his first victory of the season, his second at Fontana and the sixth of his career.

“The racing there at the end with Joey was awesome,” said Larson, a California native who got his first NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at the two-mile track. “I had just a couple-lap fresher tires than he did, and I was able to chase him down. That was a lot of fun.

“I wish that last caution wouldn’t have come out, because it would have been easier for me to win, I think. But a heck of a race. I honestly didn’t think we would be here yesterday. I was struggling bad in practice. Fought the balance a lot throughout the race, too. Finally, the last few runs, we hit on it and it felt good for the short run and throughout the long run. So I can’t say enough about everyone on our ENEOS Chevy team.”

Both the winner and the runner-up had obstacles to overcome. Larson recovered from a pit road speeding penalty to win the race. Logano sped on pit road and subsequently fell to the back of the field when the jack on the left side of his Ford dropped prematurely during an extended stay on pit road.

But Logano was in prime position at the end, though he acknowledged that Gallagher’s two-tire call deprived him of the chance to overtake Larson.

“What’s his number?  23?” Logano asked. “Yeah, I don’t know about that move. That wasn’t a good move. I don’t know what they were thinking, but that maybe wasn’t the best play at this race track. I knew he was going to spin them (his tires). There’s no way he couldn’t. It wasn’t his fault.

“He was a sitting duck and I was a sitting duck behind him that lost too much track position on that restart being too far behind Kyle. If not for that, we would have probably been door-to-door across the line bumping and banging or something. We were able to catch Larson the last few laps. We were definitely faster, but I needed another lap, maybe two.”

Kyle Busch finished third after scraping the wall on Lap 122 while in pursuit of Logano, who was leading at the time. Erik Jones ran fourth and Sunoco rookie William Byron fifth as the highest-finishing series regular.

The action-filled race wasn’t without a number of hard crashes. Paul Menard’s Chevrolet nosed hard into the outside wall after contact from Jones. Cole Custer clobbered the Turn 1 wall with an assist from Ryan Sieg—and was upset when he exited the car.

“I just got hooked going into the corner,” Custer said. “I think I hit him (Sieg) a tick just on my side-draft going off of (Turn) 4, and then he decided just to hook us going into Turn 1 and wreck us.

“I thought we could have competed for a win there. We had a bad pit stop. We were going to work our way back up there, but just got our day ended by a clown move.”

Notes: Byron is second in the series standings, 17 points behind seventh-place finisher Elliott Sadler… Darrell Wallace Jr. finished sixth for the fourth-straight race… Busch won both the first and second stages of the race, earning a total of two playoff points toward the owner’s championship.


JR Motorsports Previews Auto Club Speedway

Elliott Sadler

(photos courtesy Leon Hammack)
• For a third consecutive week, Elliott Sadler leads the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship points standings—Sadler is currently 11 points ahead of teammate William Byron.

• In 12 starts at Auto Club Speedway, Sadler has four top-five and eight top-10 finishes, with one pole award. • Last season at Fontana, Sadler claimed a fifth-place finish.

• This season, the OneMain Financial team has earned two top-eight efforts and an average finish of 6.5 during NASCAR’s West Coast swing.
Michael Annett

Michael Annett is currently ninth in the Xfinity point standings after coming off his first top-10 finish of the 2017 season last weekend in Phoenix.

• In six starts at ACS, Annett has completed all but two laps attempted and has a best finish of sixth in the fall of 2009. • Annett has an average finish of 14.8 thus far in 2017 which ranks him fifth among full-time Xfinity competitors.

• The 30-year-old Iowa native has competed in the Xfinity Series for seven years and has seven top-five and 35 top-10 finishes.

Justin Allgaier
• Coming off a win at Phoenix, Justin Allgaier enters the weekend fourth in the NXS point standings, just 29 points outside the lead.

• Over the past two races, Allgaier has gained 22 spots in the NXS point standings.

• In eight starts at ACS, the Illinois native has three top- 10 finishes, with a best finish of eighth (2010).

• Last season, Allgaier finished 10th at ACS after being force to a backup car due to damage caused in practice.

• Allgaier has led more laps this season (85) than any other NXS regular.

William Byron
William Byron will make his first start at Auto Club Speedway on Saturday. Byron has one NXS start on a track greater than one mile, capturing his first top-10 finish at Daytona earlier this season. • The Rookie of the Year contender is currently leading the rookie standings and is second in the NXS championship standings, 11 markers behind leader, and teammate, Elliott Sadler. • Crew chief Dave Elenz has called the shots in two previous races at ACS. Elenz visited Victory Lane with the No. 88 team in 2015, after Kevin Harvick led 67 percent of the total laps.


Indy Test Brings Big Smiles To The Drivers, Despite The Winds

Helio Castorneves
If there are the sounds of Hondas and Chevrolets rumbling around the hallowed oval at Georgetown and 16th Street, then that must signal that spring is in the air!

Warm spring temperatures provided an optimal platform for 11 Verizon IndyCar Series cars to turn laps today on the hallowed 2.5-mile oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as they prepare for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in little more than two months.

Drivers for Chip Ganassi Racing, Rahal Letterman Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports participated on a manufacturers test day for Honda. Team Penske used the chance as a team test day for its four full-season drivers. Since it was a private test day, no official times were released.

Despite winds that picked up in the afternoon and limited running, there was no place the 11 drivers would rather be.

“It’s always cool to be at this place,” said Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner who drives the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. “It’s fantastic to be back at the speedway and May is just around the corner.

“We were lucky enough to win in 2008, but once you win you just want that second one much, much more. There’s nothing like this place.”

Dixon was joined at the test by teammates Max Chilton, Charlie Kimball and Tony Kanaan. The 2013 Indy 500 winner, Kanaan has his sights set on making his 16th start in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on May 28. But it never gets old.

“It’s everything,” the 42-year-old fan favorite said of each time he returns to IMS. “This is why I grew up wanting to race, this is why I wanted to be here and this is why I insisted after all the disappointments to try to win this race over and over and over again.

“Every time you come here, by the time you drive through the tunnel in your car, it’s an unbelievable feeling that I don’t think it would be fair for me to try to describe because I don’t think it will do it justice.”

The Honda testing contingent was filled out by James Hinchcliffe and Mikhail Aleshin from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Graham Rahal from Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Rahal will have a teammate, Oriol Servia, in May, but was the lone test driver for RLL today.

“We’re a one-car team and we’ve got to try and make the most of it,” said Rahal, driver of the No. 15 Honda. “I wish Oriol was here running. It would have been nice having him here running for the test as well just to get some more data, but he’s not.

“We’re always trying to overcome the same battle but it is what it is. We just have to stick to our game plan and try to do what we need to do to be at our best.”

Team Penske drivers Helio Castroneves, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power turned laps in their Chevrolet-powered cars. The team test day gives the Penske group the chance to double up on Indy testing since the quartet will return for a Chevrolet manufacturer day April 1.

Team Penske has more Indy 500 wins (16) than any team in history but is determined to improve on 2016, when Power’s 10th-place finish was the best among its drivers. Newgarden is new to the team this year, but echoed the thoughts of most drivers today when discussing the gusting winds and how to prepare for them.

“It’s understanding the balance shifts that the wind provides but also the unpredictability,” he said. “You get these gusts sometimes when the wind hits the car in different directions that you don’t suspect and the car reacts in a way that you wouldn’t suspect as a driver. It’s trying to understand that and just be on your toes so that when the car does move one way of the other, not knowing where it’s going to go, you can react and keep it off the fence.”

Despite the gusting winds, there were no incidents on the day. Three more private tests are scheduled in the next two weeks. Andretti Autosport and Ed Carpenter Racing are scheduled to test March 28 at Sebring International Raceway in Florida. The April 1 Chevrolet test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway includes Team Penske, AJ Foyt Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing. Honda has scheduled another manufacturer test April 4 at Sonoma Raceway for all 13 of its full-season cars.

The next Verizon IndyCar Series race is the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, slated for April 7-9 on the 1.968-mile temporary street course in Southern California. The race airs live at 4 p.m. ET April 9 on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.