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Kyle Larson wins action-filled NASCAR Cup Series race at Fontana

Kyle Larson wins action-filled NASCAR Cup Series race at Fontana

February 27, 2022


By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service


Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson waited until late in Sunday’s Wise Power 400 to flex his muscles.


But in the end, the driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet held off a charging Austin Dillon by .195 seconds at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., to notch his first victory of the season, his second at the 2-mile track and the 17th of his career.


In a race that featured 12 cautions for 59 laps, Larson, who started from the rear of the field because of unapproved adjustments to his Camaro, took the lead from Joey Logano on Lap 167 of 200 and held it for 27 of the final 34 circuits on the way to the victory.


That was after the dominant car of Tyler Reddick suffered a flat left rear tire while leading on Lap 152, and in the aftermath of that incident was collected by the sliding car of William Byron.


Reddick had led 90 laps to that point—17 more than in his first 75 Cup starts combined—and had won the first and second stages in convincing fashion.


Larson, however, outlasted arguably stronger cars and was in position to win at the end of the race.


“It’s always fun to win here in the home state,” said the Elk Grove, Calif., native Kyle Larson. “There were definitely some guys that were quicker than us, but they had their misfortunes.


“Just kept our heads in it all day—long race. Restarts were crazy. The whole runs were crazy. So definitely wild, but cool to get a win here in California and hope we get on a little streak.”


Larson’s victory came at the expense of teammate Chase Elliott, who fell two laps down after scraping the wall on Lap 33 and spinning off Turn 2 five laps later.


As the beneficiary under two cautions, Elliott regained the lead lap, drove through the field and was battling Larson and Logano for the lead when Larson shot up the track and pinched Elliott’s Chevrolet into the outside wall. Larson said on his radio that he didn’t know Elliott was there.


It was Elliott who spun on Lap 192 to cause the final caution and set up a dramatic four-lap sprint to the finish that saw Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez briefly wrestle the lead from Larson, thanks to a push from Petty GMS Motorsport’s Erik Jones. But Larson regained the lead off Turn 4 with just over two laps left and held it the rest of the way.


In a testament to the relative parity achieved by NASCAR’s new Next Gen race car—admittedly with a small sample size so far—nine different Cup organizations finished in the top 10 at Fontana.


One of those was the Trackhouse Racing team of Suarez, who rolled home fourth behind the Chevrolets of Larson, Dillon and Jones.


“We’re going to win a few races very soon here,” Suarez said. “I just can’t thank everyone enough on my team. We had a fast car, but we went through a lot of adversity. We had a few issues. We hit the wall once. We had an issue with a diffuser. My pit crew, those guys are legends, it’s unbelievable.


“It’s the best pit crew I’ve ever had, and it’s a lot of fun to race like that. The Freeway Insurance Chevrolet, everyone that helps Trackhouse out, to be able to be here and perform this way… I can tell you that I’m going to work very, very hard to go to Victory Lane very, very soon here.”


Logano ran fifth, followed by Aric Almirola, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch (who started from the rear and served a pass-through penalty to start the race because of three inspection failures). Daniel Hemric and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. completed the top 10.


Polesitter and Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric finished 12th after suffering damage in a four-car accident involving Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace and Harrison Burton on Lap 158.


Larson, who won 10 races last year in his first season at Hendrick Motorsports, led four times for 28 laps, second only to Reddick’s 90. All told, there were 32 lead changes among nine drivers in an event in which radical shuffling of the running order was commonplace.


NASCAR Cup Series Race – 25th Wise Power 400

Auto Club Speedway

Fontana, California

Sunday, February 27, 2022


  1. (13)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 200.
  2. (16)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 200.
  3. (2)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 200.
  4. (15)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 200.
  5. (7)  Joey Logano, Ford, 200.
  6. (31)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 200.
  7. (32)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 200.
  8. (36)  Kurt Busch, Toyota, 200.
  9. (5)  Daniel Hemric(i), Chevrolet, 200.
  10. (17)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 200.
  11. (21)  Cole Custer, Ford, 200.
  12. (1)  Austin Cindric #, Ford, 200.
  13. (12)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 200.
  14. (3)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 200.
  15. (4)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 200.
  16. (24)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 200.
  17. (18)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 200.
  18. (6)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 200.
  19. (34)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 200.
  20. (26)  Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 200.
  21. (29)  Garrett Smithley, Ford, 200.
  22. (30)  BJ McLeod, Ford, 200.
  23. (35)  Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 200.
  24. (11)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 199.
  25. (14)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 199.
  26. (8)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 198.
  27. (9)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 198.
  28. (25)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 198.
  29. (33)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 198.
  30. (28)  Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 198.
  31. (23)  Michael McDowell, Ford, Electrical, 193.
  32. (27)  Cody Ware, Ford, 187.
  33. (22)  Harrison Burton #, Ford, Accident, 157.
  34. (10)  William Byron, Chevrolet, Accident, 151.
  35. (20)  Chris Buescher, Ford, Accident, 111.
  36. (19)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, Engine, 94.


Average Speed of Race Winner:  114.222 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 3 Mins, 7 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .195 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  12 for 59 laps.

Lead Changes:  32 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   A. Cindric # 0;E. Jones 1-10;T. Reddick 11-15;E. Jones 16;T. Reddick 17-22;C. Elliott 23-34;T. Reddick 35-38;W. Byron 39;T. Reddick 40-53;W. Byron 54;K. Harvick 55;T. Reddick 56-67;E. Jones 68;T. Reddick 69-73;K. Larson 74;C. Briscoe 75-91;W. Byron 92;T. Reddick 93-99;W. Byron 100-112;T. Reddick 113-121;E. Jones 122;T. Reddick 123-132;E. Jones 133;T. Reddick 134-151;E. Jones 152-155;J. Logano 156-166;K. Larson 167-174;R. Blaney 175;C. Briscoe 176-178;J. Logano 179-180;K. Larson 181-192;J. Logano 193;K. Larson 194-200.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Tyler Reddick 10 times for 90 laps; Kyle Larson 4 times for 28 laps; Chase Briscoe 2 times for 20 laps; Erik Jones 6 times for 18 laps; William Byron 4 times for 16 laps; Joey Logano 3 times for 14 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 12 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 1 lap; Kevin Harvick 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 8,43,24,14,5,48,22,12,2,47

Stage #2 Top Ten: 8,43,22,12,5,41,2,10,24,11


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Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Caesars has Kyle Larson +250 favorite to win at Fontana





Age: 29 (July 31, 1992)


Hometown: Elk Grove, California


Resides: Mooresville, North Carolina


Crew Chief: Cliff Daniels


Standings: 26th



No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1


I SECOND THAT: On March 26, 2017, at Auto Club Speedway, Kyle Larson started first and led 110 of 202 laps en route to his second career NASCAR Cup Series victory. In a Chip Ganassi Racing entry, the 2014 rookie of the year led the final six circuits around the 2-mile track in Fontana, California.

2-MILERS: Michigan International Speedway and Auto Club Speedway are the only active 2-mile circuits on the Cup Series schedule. Larson holds a 12.75 average finishing position on the two tracks, which ranks third among active drivers. He trails only Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott (8.25) and Joey Logano (12.72) in that statistical category.

DAYTONA 475: Larson, who won the pole award for Sunday’s DAYTONA 500, led the field to the green flag in “The Great American Race” at the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway. Larson was in position to battle for the win before his No. 5 Camaro ZL1 was collected in a multi-car accident with 10 laps to go in the race scheduled for 500 miles. The reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion finished 32nd and is now 26th in the driver standings after one event.

TWO STRAIGHT: Dating back to the 2021 season finale at Phoenix Raceway, Larson has won two consecutive pole positions. If the Elk Grove, California, native wins the pole for this weekend’s race, it will mark the first time a driver has won three straight since Kyle Busch did it in 2017. The last Hendrick Motorsports driver to accomplish the feat was Jeff Gordon in 2007.

TOPS SINCE THEN: The last time NASCAR’s premier series raced at Fontana was March 1, 2020. That event marked seven-time Cup Series champion and all-time ACS wins leader (six) Jimmie Johnson’s final start at the West Coast track. Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman led 110 laps that day to capture the victory. Since then, Larson has paced the field 2,584 times in Cup Series competition, the most of any driver. The 29-year-old driver has done so while competing in only 38 of the 70 races held during that span.

CAREER YEAR: In 2021, Larson led the Cup Series in wins (10), top-five finishes (20), top-10s (26), stage wins (18), laps led (2,581) and average start (6.1) – all career-bests. His laps led in 2021 were more than the combined total of the second- and third-place drivers in that statistical category.

QUICK TIME: At 11.501 seconds, the No. 5 pit crew had the quickest four-tire pit stop in the 2022 DAYTONA 500. The over-the-wall crew is comprised of gasman Brandon Harder, jackman Brandon Johnson, tire carrier R.J. Barnette and tire changers Donnie Tasser (front) and Calvin Teague (rear). Their final performance of 2021 – a 12.345-second four-tire stop at Phoenix Raceway – moved Larson from fourth to first for the final restart and propelled the 29-year-old driver to his first Cup Series championship.

YOUR CAR NEEDS: This weekend, Larson will drive the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. From the convenience of home, customers can select the category, make, model and vehicle packages that are important to them from the nearly 30,000 new, high-quality pre-owned and certified cars, trucks and SUVs available at The website also makes it easy for customers to find one of Hendrick Automotive Group’s 93 dealership locations nationwide.

WE’RE HIRING: Hendrick Automotive Group is hiring more than 300 technicians at its dealerships throughout the country. Positions are open for all skill levels and offer tuition and training reimbursement. Interested people can apply at

OVER $200K: In March, Larson launched the Kyle Larson Foundation, which was established to better serve today’s youth, families and communities in need through hands-on support. The Sanneh Foundation and the Urban Youth Racing School are the primary beneficiaries of the foundation, which will also work closely with Hendrick Cares, the corporate social responsibility program of Hendrick Automotive Group. To kickstart the “Drive for 5,” Larson pledged a personal donation of $5 for every Cup Series lap he completed in 2021 and contributed another $5,000 for every top-five finish he earned. After 36 races, he pledged more than $140,000 and raised more than $200,000. To learn more, please visit

NASCAR Fontana Betting Preview: 2022 WISE Power 400 by Micah Roberts

 My dear friend Fontana, I had this weird dream after the last time I saw you the world shut down, everyone was unkind to each other, and hundreds of thousands died from a pandemic. It was absolutely horrible, but I’m glad I woke up and glad to be back. Wait, I’m awake and it’s been two years?

It was March 1, 2020, Alex Bowman led a race-high 110 laps to win his second career Cup race. And then Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert caught COVID-19, the NBA shut down, the NCAA Basketball Tournament was canceled, and NASCAR followed suit.

That was one lonely March and April I’ll never forget. The unknown of the virus constantly occupied my mind and then it felt exasperated more by not having sports to follow. But then NASCAR set a May 17 date at Darlington for a return to action, the first sports back on network TV. They raced on May 20th also at Darlington. Midweek racing didn’t catch on as I hoped, but I loved it.


Back to the future, so let’s get this California re-boot started with momentum coming off a strong Daytona 500 audience and the possibility of also welcoming new NASCAR fans found at the L.A. Coliseum for the Busch Light Clash won by Joey Logano the week before the Super Bowl played in Inglewood.

NASCAR is on a roll to start the 2022 season and I think Sunday’s NASCAR WISE Power 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA can bring it just as strong because it's a wide sweeping two-mile D-shaped oval offering multiple grooves for the drivers. Kyle Larson and Tyler Reddick will likely rim ride at the top while Kyle Busch will stick with whatever groove his car likes.     

The performance of the NextGen car for varying teams will be a learning experience for me, but I’ll look for the positives in all garages.

I think how Brad Keselowski runs this week off a solid superspeedway week at Daytona will be a major glimpse at what we’ll see for the series moving forward. He’s the perfect in between specimen to observe. He’s 40-to-1 to win at a track he won at in 2015 with a quality Team Penske ride. He’s now with a Roush team that hasn’t been stellar at Fontana since Matt Kenseth won in 2009. 

How he does this week gives hope and insight for all the non-elite teams with the NextGen car? It’s got 670 horsepower and has the appearance of being all-equal, but I have it stuck in my head that Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing are the elites, Penske isn’t far behind, and then it’s everyone else. At least that’s the way it always seemed to be. But if it’s not the case this time around, Keselowski will shed light this weekend. 

Brad Keselowski saw a Top 10 finish in last week's Daytona 500. (AP)

Keselowski says he’s glad to be back at Fontana.

“Fontana starts a long stretch of racing on the West Coast, but we’re excited for it and glad to have momentum as a company coming off Speedweeks,” Keselowski said. “Despite we have not been to Auto Club in a couple of years, it is a track I have been fortunate to be strong at the last few outings. We’re looking forward to getting things going in the Violet Defense Ford come Saturday, and are excited for the weekend.”

Keselowski is 40-to-1 to win at Caesars sportsbooks and he wasn’t kidding about his recent success on the 2-mile layout. After his win in 2015, he was ninth, runner-up, fourth, third, and fifth. He obviously loves the track’s worn-out surface or has an instinctive edge on how to manage it that some others don’t have. 

But you still have to have the car.

And this is where it gets difficult when betting this week. I feel like I’m walking on eggshells when discussing stuff I don’t fully know the answers to. I’m reluctant to bet as normal on just a hunch that Hendrick or JGR will be the best equipped to start the season on non-superspeedways. I have to trust the driver’s past history the most with a boost of confidence if those Fontana-friendly drivers also drive for HMS or JGR.


All this is spinning in my head as common sense responds with the fact that Ford won the Clash at the Coliseum, both Daytona Duels, and the Daytona 500. Ford is a big 4-0. They had an aerodynamic edge with the Ford bumpers connecting better in the draft. The Austin Cindric-Ryan Blaney teamwork was spectacular.

Caesars has Penske drivers Joey Logano at 14-to-1, Ryan Blaney at 10-to-1, and the rookie Cindric at 50-to-1. When I saw those odds on Cindric my immediate feeling was to not let that price slip away again. I bet Blaney and Logano aggressively last week and left the other teammate out of the mix. Maybe a super small wager on Cindric just so I don’t feel left out like last week when I had second, third, and fourth place locked up with wagers. 

As for Stewart-Haas Racing Fords, I don’t feel confident in them after the complete collapse last season when only one driver won a race and it was Aric Almirola and not Kevin Harvick who won a series-leading nine races in 2020. In 27 Cup starts at Fontana, Harvick has a 2007 win. But Harvick says it's all new this week with the NextGen cars.   

“For sure, because you just don’t know,” he said. “It’s always tire management, it’s always moving around the racetrack – being able to run the top and the bottom – but this car is so different in the way that it uses the tires, and the way it uses the right-rear tire, especially. I think as you look at that, it could turn into a tire conservation type of situation to where just have to pick a speed and run the speed so you can make it through a whole fuel run. You just don’t know those things until you go do it, so being able to adapt and adjust is going to be important.”

Yes, he sounds like me at the bet window this week.

Harvick is 12-to-1 to win at Caesars because, because……well, I don’t know. Is it because he’s from Bakersfield just northwest of Fontana? 

That Harvick number doesn’t make sense, but no one knows with this new car at Fontana’s abrasive surface. Maybe practice on Saturday will show he’s a contender.


  • Date: Sunday, February 27, 2022
  • TV-Time: FOX, 3:30 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Auto Club Speedway
  • Location: Fontana, California
  • Distance: 400 miles
  • Laps: 200

The first bet I made this week was Bowman at 15-to-1 odds just because he loves the track, he’s from HMS, and he’s the most recent winner at Fontana. 

“I’m excited to get back to Fontana,” Bowman said. “I feel like we had the best car we have had ever when we raced there in 2020. I love the track and how big it is, so going back with a win in my last appearance and a lot of good thoughts gives me a lot of confidence. Obviously, the car is different so we can’t lean too much on our notes from last time, but I know our team will put together a great car for this year’s event.”

His sentiment is encouraging, I feel a confidence boost about my bet.


Kyle Larson+400
Chase Elliott+800
Kyle Busch+800
Denny Hamlin+850
Martin Truex, Jr. +1000

Kyle Larson is the deserving +250 to win Sunday, but is he really since we haven’t seen the new cars race on the track? That unknown makes his driver rating lower for this race, or at least until Saturday’s practice where 10-consecutive laps averages will be the gateway to finding a gem.

If it’s Larson that is fastest or second fastest in those 10 lap averages it might be a long day for the rest of the field because Larson thrives on 2-mile D-Shaped sister tracks in Fontana and Michigan. He won four straight races on them from 2016-17. A win and two runner-ups at Fontana is a strong resume.

“I don’t know what to expect,” Larson said. “Obviously, we will all learn a lot during practice and qualifying on Saturday. We used to run low for a few laps then move up a couple lanes. Then after seven or eight laps you could run all over the place. But I believe they put resin down, so I don’t know how that will affect it.”


The driver I invested the most in this week is Kyle Busch at 8-to-1 odds to win just because he leads all active drivers in wins (4), top-fives (11), top-10s (16), laps led (807) in 22 Cup starts at Fontana. He was runner-up the last time there in 2020, dominated in 2019 winning all three stages, and third in 2018. He’s been third or better in seven of his last nine starts (3 wins). He’s also got JGR behind him, so it wasn’t hard for my money to follow the driver skills combined with the ownership money that demands excellence. 

“I really enjoy the 2-mile track,” Busch said. “I love going out to California. It’s a driver’s track and it’s aged over time. The surface has been ground, but I don’t think it’s been paved since it was first built back in 1997 or 1998. It’s been a long time with the place being aged, and it’s aged well. You can run all over it. Typically, recently you run up around the wall in the turns but you can still move around a bit. I hope the NextGen car will also allow us to move around and be pretty racy. We’ll go there this weekend with our Interstate Batteries Camry and try and get another win there.” 

Busch also has six Xfinity Series wins and two Truck Series wins at Fontana..

Welcome back Fontana!


NASCAR looks forward to Auto Club Speedway return

After taking last season off from visiting Auto Club Speedway due to pandemic restrictions, the NASCAR Cup Series is looking forward to returning to the 2-mile track located just outside of Los Angeles in Fontana, California for the WISE Power 400 on February 27 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Groundbreaking for California Speedway, as Auto Club Speedway was originally known, took place in November of 1995. The track name was changed to Auto Club Speedway (ACS) in February of 2008. The first race at Auto Club Speedway was an ARCA Menards Series West race won by Ken Schrader on June 21, 1997.

The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway was held on June 22, 1997 and won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon driving the Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 24 Chevrolet.

The September 2004 event was the first night race at Auto Club Speedway and that also was the first year both the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series ran two races in a season there. There have been 31 NASCAR Cup Series races at Auto Club Speedway, the track hosted one race a season from 1997-2003, then two races per season from 2004-2010. In 2011, Auto Club Speedway returned to a single-race season.

Last season (2021) due to the COVID-19 Pandemic restrictions, Auto Club Speedway was removed from the NASCAR Cup Series schedule but has returned this season to be the second race on the 2022 schedule.

Auto Club Speedway’s 31 previous NASCAR Cup Series races have produced 20 different poles winners and 18 different race winners. 23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch leads the NASCAR Cup Series in poles at Auto Club Speedway with four (2015, 2007 and 2006 sweep). Joe Nemechek won the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series pole at Auto Club Speedway in 1997 with a speed of 183.015 mph (39.341 secs).

Six of the 20 NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club Speedway pole winners are active this weekend.


Active Pole Winners



Kurt Busch


2006 Sweep, 2007, 2015

Denny Hamlin


2009, 2012, 2013

Austin Dillon


2016, 2019

Kyle Larson



Martin Truex Jr



Kyle Busch




Kyle Busch leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins at Auto Club Speedway with four victories (2005, 2013, 2014, 2019). Seven of the 18 NASCAR Cup Series race winners at Auto Club Speedway are active this weekend.


Active Winners



Kyle Busch


2005, 2013, 2014, 2019

Alex Bowman



Martin Truex Jr



Kyle Larson



Brad Keselowski



Kevin Harvick



Kurt Busch




All the action begins this Saturday, February 26 at Auto Club Speedway with NASCAR Cup Series practice at 2 p.m. ET and qualifying at 2:35 p.m. ET.