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Bowman Dominates Final Stage for Win in Cali

Alex Bowman - photo by Larry Robinson - Bluegrass Sports Nation

Alex Bowman leads Hendrick to Victory Lane

FONTANA, Cal – March 1, 2020 – Anthony Holbrook – BSN

The NASCAR Cup Series race #3 shifts gears to the Auto Club Speedway, (formally California Speedway) Sunday, March 1, 2020.  The 2.0 mile, D-shaped oval, offers 14 degree banking each of the four turns with 11 and 3 degree banking for the front and backstretch respectfully.  Though NASCAR events utilize the 2.0 tri-oval; the facility additionally features a drag strip track as well as an infield road course, allowing the track to host multiple racing venues.

The NASCAR Cup Series officials will continue to enforce the 2020 Rules Package fitted for tracks larger than 1.33 miles.  This package will includes a .922-inch Tapered Spacer, A Larger Rear Spoiler and Aero Ducts. The combination of the supplemented package additions anticipate reduction of horsepower from 750 hp. to 550 hp, promoting tighter racing. 

 No. 18 Kyle Busch won checkers with a dominating performance last year at Fontana and defend his 2019 Auto Club 400 title on this 2nd leg of the West Coast Swing.

As the race is in Southern California, various drivers had tributes to the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant.   No. 12 Ryan Blaney ran a special Body Armor paint scheme that featured a (Black Mamba) snake skin pattern and number tributes to Bryant and his daughter Gianna; William Byron‘s No. 24 car sharing the same number that Bryant wore during his career, was colored in  purple and gold after the Los Angeles Lakers

No. 14 Clint Bowyer narrowly edged out home track favorite No. 48 Jimmie Johnson, who start on the outside of the front row at his last race in Fontana.

Stage 1
Clint Bowyer controls the pace early as the No. 48 Jimmie Johnson and No. 88 Alex Bowman battle the No. 1 Kurt Busch Toyota for second. The Hendrick Motorsports duo of Bowman and Johnson blew by Bowyer on lap eleven to take the lead.

Just 10 laps remaining in Stage 1:  Alex Bowman shows the way as No. 12 Ryan Blaney and Jimmie Johnson contend for position up front.

Leading 44 out of 60 laps Alex Bowman wins Stage 1.  Ryan Blaney places second as Jimmie Johnson ends up in the sand box.

Auto Club 400 Stage 1 Results

  1. Alex Bowman
  2. Ryan Blaney
  3. Jimmie Johnson
  4. Aric Almirola
  5. Kurt Bush
  6. Brad Kesolowiski
  7. Joey Logano
  8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  9. Chase Elliott
  10. Kyle Bush

Stage 2
Stage 2 spotlighted pit miscues as: Alex Bowman lengthy car service affected valuable track position on pit road between stages.  Additionally, The No. 18 Kyle Busch Toyota missed his pit box entirely.

Jimmy Johnson and Ryan Blaney led the field to green at Stage # 2, both to swap the lead before the latter took over. The two would fight with No. 22 Joey Logano and Alex Bowman for the point during the early laps.

Misfortune also struck No. 95 Christopher Bell on lap 71 and No. 14 Clint Bowyer on lap 93 as result to blown engine and blown front tire in which end each driver’s day respectfully.

Ryan Blaney would dominate the remainder of the stage with a 3.2 second lead over second place finisher Alex Bowman and No. 48 Jimmie Johnson in third.

Auto Club 400 Stage 2 Result

  1. Ryann Blaney
  2. Alex Bowman
  3. Jimmie Johnson
  4. Brad Keselowski
  5. Martin Truex Jr.
  6. Chase Elliott
  7. Kyle Bush
  8. Denny Hamlin
  9. Eric Jones
  10. Kevin Harvick

Auto Club 400 Final Stage

Stage #3
Jimmie Johnson paced the field to the opening green flag.  Alex Bowman quickly regained the lead as Hendrick Chevy fell back.

Lap 158 saw the final series of green-flag stops. No. 19 Martin Truex Jr., who was running second before pitting, saw his victory hopes diminish after a pit crew member injury.

Alex Bowman rotated back to the lead after stops were completed.

At the front, Alex Bowman’s lead margin over Ryan Blaney expanded to five seconds. Despite Ryan Blaney’s efforts to gain ground, the margin continued to increase until severe tire wear forced him to pit with three laps to go.

With the Busch brothers trailing and out of contention and striking distance, Alex Bowman captures his second career Cup victory.

Auto Club 400 Final Results

  1. Alex Bowman
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Kurt Busch
  4. Chase Elliott
  5. Brad Keselowski
  6. Denny Hamlin
  7. Jimmie Johnson
  8. Aric Almirola
  9. Kevin Harvick
  10.  Eric Jones
  11. Tyler Reddick
  12. Joey Logano
  13. Matt DiBenedetto
  14. Martin Truex Jr
  15. William Byron
  16. Chris Buescher
  17. Ross Chastain
  18. Cole Custer
  19. Ryan Blaney
  20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  21. Kyle Larson
  22. Michael McDowell
  23. Clint Bowyer
  24. Austin Dillon
  25. John Hunter Nemechek
  26. Ty Dillon
  27. Bubba Wallace
  28. Daniel Suarez
  29. Corey LaJoie
  30. Ryan Preece
  31. JJ Yelley
  32. Brennan Poole
  33. Joey Gase
  34. Garrett Smithley
  35. Quin Houff
  36. Reed Sorenson
  37. Timmy Hill
  38. Christopher Bell

Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 37 Mins, 7 Secs.
Average Speed: 152.753 MPH
Margin of Victory: 8.904 Seconds
Caution Flags: 3 for 13 laps; Laps: 62-66 (Stage 1 Conclusion [34]); 94-95 (#14 Incident in Turn 1 [96]); 122-127 (Stage 2 Conclusion [42]).

Lead Changes:
16 among 8 drivers; C. Bowyer 1-10; A. Bowman 11-29; R. Stenhouse Jr 30-35; A. Bowman 36-63; J. Johnson 64-68; R. Blaney 69-70; J. Johnson 71; R. Blaney 72-91; W. Byron 92; R. Blaney 93-123; J. Johnson 124-127; R. Blaney 128; A. Bowman 129; M. Truex Jr 130-132; A. Bowman 133-160; B. Keselowski 161-166; A. Bowman 167-200.

Race 4 of the Monster Energy NASCAR Series concludes the West Coast Swing locating to Phoenix Raceway, Sunday March 8th 2019, 3:30 p.m. for the Fan Shield 500     Fox

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