Jimmie Johnson came into this race as the man at the Auto Club raceway in Fontana. He’d won more races and led more laps there than any other driver and it appeared that he was well on his way to his sixth career win today… until the final lap.
On the final turn of the final lap, Harvick put his bumper right up on Johnson and soon as the five time defending champ went low into the turn, Harvick stayed high and drove right by him for his first career win at Fontana. Harvick had not led a single lap all day until he took lead on lap 400 for the win. Harvick has now won three of his last five races on last lap passes.
Kyle Busch, who had the best car of the day and had led the most laps, finished 3rd about a half second behind the top two. After the race he said they “gave it away.”
“We gave the race away today unfortunately. We seemed to be losing the handle a little bit there at the end especially that last set of tires. We just didn’t have what it took to keep the front end under the car and the back end under the car in the exits of the corners. I just couldn’t get the right speed that I needed.”
Matt Kenseth, a three time winner at Fontana came in 4th and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.
Carl Edwards continued his strong start to the season finishing 6th and taking over the Sprint Cup Series points lead from Kurt Busch. Ryan Newman took over second with Kurt & Kyle Busch in third and fourth respectively. The five time defending champ, Jimmie Johnson sits in fifth. Harvick’s win vaulted him into the top 10.
Harvick is the fifth different winner in five races so far in the Sprint Cup series. It was the first win for Richard Childress racing at the Southern California track.
Five time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson has yet to win a race this year, but Fontana just may be the place to change that. Johnson has five victories at Auto Club speedway, the most of any any driver, he's led more laps at the track than any other driver and he's the only man to have ever won back to back races in Southern California.
Johnson will be starting in the 16th position this afternoon at 3pm eastern on FOX. Juan Pablo Montoya took the pole and seemed surprised, "I didn't think we were going to qualify that well," a smiling Montoya said. "Overall, I was really happy. Actually, I'm really surprised we qualified that well."
Kyle Busch, winner of last week's race at Bristol and yesterday's Nationwide race at this track, will be starting 8th. Matt Kenseth will also be a guy to watch from the 11th position as he's won this race three times.
This will be the one and only race at Fontana this year after the track had hosted two races a year since 2004. However, in recent years attendance has dropped off and NASCAR the reason for that was the poor economy was forcing people to choose going to one race or the other rather than both. So the old law of supply and demand should mean more butts in the seats this weekend right? That remains to be seen, but SoCal native Jimmie Johnson understands why the move was made and thinks it will pay off.
"I hate to see it leave, but at the same time, if we don't have the support, then we have to find the areas that will support our sport and fill up the grandstands and all that kind of thing. Only time will tell how this will work out. I feel in my heart that one race will create a buzz."