NASCAR RACING 2020-1-cvt


E​xciting NASCAR Xfinity & Cup Series racing

NASCAR’s annual Southern California, double-header stock car races were held this past weekend at Auto Club Speedway – a very wide, two-mile, D-shaped oval superspeedway in Fontana.

J​immie Johnson leading a ceremonial “Five Wide Salute” before the NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400

NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race, with its field heavily populated by up-and-coming drivers, ran on Saturday, followed on Sunday by the premiere NASCAR Cup Series race. Jimmie Johnson – a popular, seven-time NASCAR Champion, two-time winner of the prestigious Daytona 500 and record six-time winner at Auto Club Speedway – and native of El Cajon, California – was honored at his ‘home track’ in this, his final season as a NASCAR Cup Series regular.


Saturday was a beautiful Southern California day, ideal weather for the Xfinity Series race. It was arguably more exciting than Sunday’s Cup Series race, as young, up-and-coming drivers competed with each other for positions, and for the attention of the premiere NASCAR Cup Series teams.

The race began with Brandon Jones leading the large field of 36 cars. He had earned pole position in his Toyota by posting a lap time around the two-mile track of 39.948 seconds, at an average speed of 180.234 mph, but the driver who went on to win the race was 19-year-old Harrison Burton in his Joe Gibbs Racing/Dex Imaging #20 Toyota Supra. Harrison continued a family tradition of NASCAR race victories – his father Jeff Burton having earned 21 over his career.

Michael Anett (1) & 51 Jeremy Clements (51) in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race
Ross Chastain (10) p​it stop action
E​ventual Xfinity Series Production Alliance Group 300 race winner Harrison Burton (20)
D​rafting down the main straightaway
T​hree wide down the main straightaway
A​ustin Cindric (22) pit stop
C​hase Briscoe (98)
Race winner Harrison Burton (20) celebrates

While he had appeared to be calm in the cockpit, his mother – who was frequently shown on the T.V. coverage – looked anything but calm. Harrison was thrilled that his whole family was with him in Victory Lane. He credited them for helping him through the tough times and for motivating him to be better.

H​arrison Burton speaks to the media in the post-race press conference

He explained that his rough time racing trucks last year motivated him to get better this year. He especially commended Joe Gibbs Racing for its incredible resources, saying that they prepared their drivers better than any other race team.


The weather turned unseasonably cold for Sunday’s Cup Series race. A light rain started to fall shortly before the race was to begin, so the crews quickly covered up the cars. Fortunately for the racers eager to compete for the $7 million total race purse, the rain remained light and did not last long.

T​he car covers were quickly put on when it began to rain on Sunday
J​oey Logano (22) takes time out to sign an autograph before the NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 race
C​hase Elliot (9) before the start of the Auto Club 400
K​yle Larson (42)
A​ crew member preparing their pit
J​immie Johnson (48)
B​etty Who (Australian singer-songwriter) and Jimmie Johnson (48) leaving the infield opening ceremonies
J​immie Johnson (48) greets his fans as he walks to his car to start the Auto Club 400
F​ans enjoying the tradition of writing good wishes to the drivers on the start/finish line and the wall

Jimmie Johnson was given the honor of leading the field in a ceremonial “Five Wide Salute” pace lap, before falling back into his qualifying position of second, beside Busch Pole Award winner Clint Bowyer.

Jimmie’s wife and two young daughters served as Honorary Starters, waving the green flag from the flag stand. His longtime friend and famous motocross racer Ricky Johnson (no relation) served as the Honorary Pace Car Driver of the 2020 Toyota Camry Pace Car.

W​ith Jimmie Johnson (48) returned to his second place starting position, the race is about to begin
P​ole winner Clint Bowyer (14) leads the start of the race; J​immie Johnson’s wife & two daughters served as Honorary Starters

The cool weather made the track more grippy than it was in Saturday’s warm sunshine. Throughout the race, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Bowman – his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, raced each other for position, much of which was at or near the front of the field. Both earned valuable stage points, but Bowman, who led 110 of the 200 laps, decisively won the relatively caution-free race with an 8.904 seconds margin of victory at an average speed of 152.753 mph.

J​immie Johnson (48) pit stop
E​ventual race winner Alex Bowman (88) during a pit stop
Kyle Larson’s (42) crew r​epairing crash damage in pit lane
E​ventual winner Alex Bowman (88) and Jimmie Johnson (48)
A​ Kyle Busch (18) pit stop. He finished the race in second place.
S​lowing down for the pit lane speed limit
A​lmost identical pit stops: Denny Hamlin (11) and Chase Elliot (9)
Pole sitter C​lint Bowyer (14)
K​yle Larson (42)
B​ubba Wallace (43)
R​ace winner Alex Bowman celebrates
A​lex Bowman (88) and his winning team celebrating in the Gatorade Victory Lane

Afterwards, Alex said: “I don’t know that we changed anything since we unloaded off the truck, so that really comes down to a lot of great preparation in the shop, Greg making really good decisions with our package that we brought here.” “We knew we had a really good car, and it was our job just to keep up with the racetrack from there.”

R​ace winner Alex Bowman (88) in the post-race press conference

“Obviously the racetrack is quite a bit different today, just being 30 degrees cooler than it was on Friday, raining for the first 50 laps probably, but it was a lot of fun and Greg did a great job keeping up with it.”

“Every year is a contract year, every year of my life in the Cup Series has been a contract year.” “I’m as motivated as ever, doing everything I can to try to be the best on and off the racetrack as I can be. Hendrick Motorsports is where I want to be, its where I want to stay for the rest of my career.”

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Jan Wagner

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