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NASCAR set for Swan Song in SoCal at Auto Club

Apollo’s Jay Arnold previews the final NASCAR race at Auto Club Speedway’s current 2-mile configuration in Fontana, California.

It was a wild conclusion to the Daytona 500 last week with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. claiming the checkered flag under caution. With Stenhouse Jr. having secured himself a spot in the playoffs with a win, the pressure is now on for other drivers to punch their ticket to the post-season by securing a victory.

NASCAR now switches coasts and heads west to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for what is set to be the last race at the track’s current format.

Fontana produced one of the best races of the season last year so it seems a shame that this will be the final time NASCAR will but rubber to racing surface at a track that just seems to be hitting it’s stride but unfortunately a large portion the land hosting the track has already been sold. NASCAR has dipped it’s toe in to the Southern California market with the Clash at the Coliseum and I’m sure they will find a way to maintain a presence in the area whether that’s at a reconfigured half-mile track at the current Auto Club grounds or elsewhere.

While qualifying for the Daytona 500 featured a full house with some drivers needing to race their way in, it looks like the Pala Casino 400 will have just the 36 chartered entries meaning no one will be missing the big show on Sunday. Check out the entry list below:

Car No.DriverTeamManufacturer
1Ross ChastainTrackhouse RacingChevrolet
2Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord
3Austin Dillon Richard Childress RacingChevrolet
4Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas RacingFord
5Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
6Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingFord
7Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet
8Kyle BuschRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
9Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
10Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord
11Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
12Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord
14Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord
15JJ YeleyRick Ware RacingFord
16AJ AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet
17Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord
19Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota
20Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
21Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingFord
22Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord
23Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota
24William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
31Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet
34Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord
38Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord
41Ryan PreeceStewart-Haas RacingFord
42Noah Gragson Legacy Motor ClubChevrolet
43Erik JonesLegacy Motor ClubChevrolet
45Tyler Reddick23XI RacingToyota
47Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet
48Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
51Cody WareRick Ware RacingFord
54Ty Gibbs Joe Gibbs RacingToyota
77Ty DillonSpire MotorsportsChevrolet
78B. J. McLeodLive Fast MotorsportsChevrolet
99Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing Chevrolet

California’s own Kyle Larson was the winner last year in Fontana and will likely be a favorite once more at Auto Club Speedway. Kevin Harvick found his way to victory lane at a similar 2-mile track in Michigan last year so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Stewart-Haas Fords are up near the front as well. In fact, as a possible dark horse contender – I like Ryan Preece to find his way to victory lane in Fontana.

Check out the schedule below for this weekend but make a note that as Southern California experiences some uncommon winter weather, this could be subject to change.

Saturday 02/25

NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying – 11:30 a.m. CT on FS1

NASCAR Cup Series qualifying – 1:45 p.m. CT on FS1

Production Alliance Group 300 (NASCAR Xfinity Series) – 4:00 p.m. CT on FS1

Sunday 02/26

Pala Casino 400 (NASCAR Cup Series) – 2:30 p.m. CT on FOX

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