The Sprint Cup Series teams are headed to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California this weekend. The drivers are talking about this weekend’s race – here’s what they are saying:
David Gilliland, driver of the No. 38 Love’s Travel Stops Ford, comments on racing at Auto Club Speedway:
“Fontana’s a different racetrack. It’s a two-mile track, so you’re going really fast, but it never feels like it has quite enough banking. You get down there in the corner, and it just feels like you need about 10 degrees more banking. And it’s gotten rougher and rougher over the years. So, it definitely presents its own set of challenges. It’s unique as a racetrack.
“It’s my home track, so I always look forward to going there. There are so many people out west who helped my career and helped me get where I am today. Whenever we visit California, we always try to visit with everybody and try to do what we can to remind them how grateful we are. And this week we get to show off our awesome Love’s Travel Stops paint scheme to everybody.”
David Ragan, driver of the No. 34 Taco Bell Ford, comments on racing at Auto Club Speedway:
“California is a fun racetrack. It loses grip throughout the course of a run. You put on new tires and you feel like Superman for a few laps. It’s very bumpy and there are a lot of different grooves you can run around.
“Usually for qualifying, you want to be right down on the bottom. That’s where the grip’s at. But throughout the course of the weekend, that groove widens out. So, by the time ‘Happy Hour’ rolls around on Saturday for the Sprint Cup cars, you can definitely move around to the middle and the top. A lot of times you can get your car to run faster on the bottom, but it is harder on the tires.
“We’ve had a bit of a rough start to our season on the 34 team. We’ve had a couple mechanical issues, but we’ve also had some plain old bad luck, too, getting caught up in other people’s mistakes. The next couple weeks will be important for us to turn things around.”
David Reutimann, driver of the No. 35 MDS Transport Ford, comments on racing at Auto Club Speedway:
“We were more than just a little disappointed with not making the race in Bristol. So we’re going to regroup and not let that happen again. I couldn’t have felt worse with how close we were (.001 seconds). But it was better to know we were really close than not even in the ballpark. At the end of the day, we should’ve been in.
“Fontana is a pretty tricky place. It’s gotten rougher and slicker as the years have gone on. The track has seams that they put sealer on, and it it makes the track slick. So, it’s a tough track. We just have to unload as good as we can and get it in the show this time.”
Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 43 Farmland Ford, comments on racing at Auto Club Speedway:
“California is a fun track. I so much enjoy going to the kind of race track where the asphalt is old and worn out. I wish there was a way to repave these racetracks with old asphalt. It would allow Goodyear to bring a tire that is softer and makes a bigger difference. When we go to California, the difference from the first lap on the race track to lap 20 is often times two seconds slower. When the caution comes out, you want to get four fresh tires. You can go anywhere on the race track, too. It seems like the track is getting rougher each year we come, and that makes it a challenge for the crew chiefs and the engineers to figure out how to get the car as low to the ground as they can but without bottoming out on those bumps. I’m confident our team can put together a package that will make us competitive on Sunday.”
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the No. 9 DeWALT Ford, comments on racing at Auto Club Speedway:
“We have a lot of confidence that we can continue this level of performance. California is a tough track, really fast with a lot of grooves, but we’re ready to step it up there and get a good finish. We haven’t had the results we have wanted there, but we’ve put in work with these new rules to get better. I know the guys will be busy this weekend so we get the best car possible for Sunday.”
Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota, comments on racing at Auto Club Speedway:
“I feel like when you get back from California you kind of have a pretty good idea where you stack up compared to your competition because you’ve been on a superspeedway, you’ve been on a flat mile, and you’ve been at an intermediate. After this weekend, you kind of get an idea where you are and where you need to improve. There’s a lot going on at Fontana, and the seams in the track surface are a big deal there. The track is really worn out so there’s a lot of fall-off on the tires. It’s definitely one that you can change your line, change your approach, find grip, lose grip, find speed and all that kind of stuff. It’s like every track where you have to have the car right, but certainly there’s a lot of options when you go there of where you can run.”
Paul Menard, driver of the No. 27 Duracell/Menards Chevrolet, on this thoughts on racing at Auto Club Speedway:
“Auto Club Speedway is a track where you need to have a good motor package because of its size. The speeds we reach going into turn 3 seem to be creeping up there higher and higher, which puts more demand on our ECR Engines. With the way the bumps are, you need to put a good enough set-up in the car to either race through them or around them. It will be interesting to see what changes we need to make to keep up with the track’s changes since the last time we’ve been there.”
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, on this thoughts on racing at Auto Club Speedway:
“California is the flip-flop race on our schedule. It used to be the new asphalt track with one groove. Now if you look at the way everything has been repaved, Auto Club Speedway is one of the oldest tracks on the schedule where you can sometimes see four- and five-wide racing on the straightaway. I look forward to it. It’s a fun place to race. It is a lot more fun to race now in comparison to the way it used to be because of the age of the asphalt. It’s built on an old steel mill, so I never expected the racetrack to stay smooth. There are bumps and they are going to impact the way we set our cars up, especially with the new changes to our cars in respect to ride heights. Most of the bumps are in the straightaways and primarily in the backstretch, so that will be one of the challenges as to who has the fastest race car and who has a splitter at the end.”
Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Cheerios Chevrolet, on if he thinks racing is fun at Auto Club Speedway:
“Auto Club Speedway is definitely a fun place, there are a lot of options. You can race hard and the track is just getting better and better. I think you see the groove come and go. The top of the race track right up by the wall might be as fast as the very bottom. It was a heck of a race last year between Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin. Hopefully, we can go in there and slice and dice a little bit.”
Brian Scott, driver of the No. 33 Whitetail Chevrolet, on racing at Auto Club Speedway:
“Yeah I think Auto Club Speedway is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, you kind of race yourself at California. It’s a big track, the cars get spread out and it’s really unfortunate because, as a driver, it’s a fun place.”
Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Wurth Ford for Team Penske, on his outlook at Auto Club Speedway and the track surface:
“I am excited to run the Wurth Ford this weekend as it will be the first Cup race for that organization, and we will be doing everything we can to make this a great weekend for them.
“Tracks take on personality with age, which means that a driver has to be cognizant of how they manage their tires over a run. On top of the well-aged racing surface, Auto Club Speedway is wide too, which offers a lot of lane choices to find the balance and speed in the car. I think that this will be a fantastic race for the fans for those reasons. Our Wurth Ford team is off to a strong start and we look to keep that going this weekend.”
Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Auto Club of Southern California Ford, on the race this Sunday:
“It will be hard to tell with the new rules package that we have. I think we are going to have to see how it plays out. It could be a lot like Vegas, but you also have a lot more room to move around in California. I am sure the key, like on a lot of these tracks, will be being out front and having clean air. But last year we did put on a pretty good show there. There was a lot of passing and back and forth action. We had a shot to win there last year and just missed out on it by a little bit. I’d like to go out there and win this weekend. I feel like our two-mile program is really strong and has been here at Team Penske. Hopefully, we can keep it up on Sunday.”