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The 2015 Auto Club 400 was a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race held on March 22, 2015, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Contested over 209 laps – extended from 200 laps, due to a green–white–checker finish – on the 2 miles (3.2 km) D-shaped oval, it was the fifth race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Brad Keselowski won the race – his 17th career victory – while Kevin Harvick extended his top two finish streak to eight races with a runner-up finish. Kurt Busch, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.

2015 Auto Club 400
Race details[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]
Race 5 of 36 in the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
2015 Auto Club 400 logo.jpg
Date March 22, 2015 (2015-03-22)
Location Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California
Course Permanent racing facility
2 mi (3.22 km)
Distance 209 laps, 418 mi (668.8 km)
Scheduled Distance 200 laps, 400 mi (640 km)
Weather Partly cloudy with a temperature of 70 °F (21 °C); wind out of the west/southwest at 8 mph (13 km/h)
Average speed 140.662 mph (226.374 km/h)
Pole position
Driver Stewart-Haas Racing
Time 38.889
Most laps led
Driver Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing
Laps 65
Winner
No. 2 Brad Keselowski Team Penske
Television in the United States
Network Fox
Announcers Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip
Nielsen Ratings 4.0/9 (Overnight)[11]
4.3/10 (Final)[12]
7.3 Million viewers[12]
Radio in the United States
Radio MRN
Booth Announcers Joe Moore and Jeff Striegle
Turn Announcers Dan Hubbard (1 & 2) and Kyle Rickey (3 & 4)

Busch won the pole for the race and led a race high of 65 laps; he lost the lead on the final lap and was passed by Keselowski and Harvick. The race had 19 lead changes among nine different drivers, as well as seven caution flag periods for 31 laps. Recording Team Penske's second NASCAR win at the track, Keselowski moved into fifth place in the points standings, which were led by Harvick; he left Fontana with a 28-point lead over Joey Logano. Chevrolet left with a 16-point lead over Ford in the manufacturers' standings.

The Auto Club 400 was carried by Fox Sports on the broadcast Fox network for the American television audience. The radio broadcast of the race was carried by the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.

Contents

ReportEdit

BackgroundEdit

 
Overhead view of the track

Auto Club Speedway (formerly California Speedway) is a 2 miles (3.2 km), low-banked, D-shaped oval superspeedway in Fontana, California which has hosted NASCAR racing annually since 1997. It is also used for open wheel racing events. The racetrack is located near the former locations of Ontario Motor Speedway and Riverside International Raceway. The track is owned and operated by International Speedway Corporation and is the only track owned by ISC to have naming rights sold. The speedway is served by the nearby Interstate 10 and Interstate 15 freeways as well as a Metrolink station located behind the backstretch.

Kevin Harvick entered Auto Club with a 22-point lead over Joey Logano following his win the week before at Phoenix. Martin Truex, Jr. entered 27 points back in third. Kasey Kahne entered 50 points back in fourth, with A. J. Allmendinger a further 5 points behind, in fifth.

Changes to qualifyingEdit

"We're looking at not backing in the cars any more. We did that initially working everybody, with you guys and TV partners in terms of access to the drivers. As we've gone through it we've learned some different things so we won't have the cars backed in. We'll send a memo out to the teams this week where we'll tweak it. As with anything you keep learning if we can make it better and we will and this is just another slight adjustment as we head into California".

NASCAR executive vice-president Steve O'Donnell speaking on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.[13]

Starting at Auto Club Speedway – and taking effect in all three national touring series[13] – drivers will no longer back out of their pit stalls when qualifying begins. Instead, they will now be parked with the nose of the car facing toward the track.[13]

Entry listEdit

The entry list for the Auto Club 400 was released on Monday, March 16, 2015 at 10:33 a.m. Eastern time. Forty-six cars were entered for the race. All 46, except for Brian Scott and Reed Sorenson were entered the week before. Mike Wallace was on the initial entry list, but was let go from his No. 66 Premium Motorsports Chevrolet the week prior. However, he was rehired by the team and was to drive the No. 66 at Auto Club Speedway, but the team ultimately withdrew from the race, due to sponsorship issues.[14] The team's No. 62 Chevrolet, driven by Brendan Gaughan, was unaffected.[14] On March 20, Michael Waltrip Racing announced that Brett Moffitt would again replace Brian Vickers in the No. 55 Toyota due to further blood clots.[15][16] This was also the first race that Moffitt officially became a candidate for Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year. Chris Buescher drove the No. 34 Ford in his first Sprint Cup Series start.[17]

No. Driver Team Manufacturer
1 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
2 Brad Keselowski (PC3) Team Penske Ford
3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
4 Kevin Harvick (PC1) Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
5 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
6 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford
7 Alex Bowman Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
9 Sam Hornish, Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
10 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
13 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet
14 Tony Stewart (PC4) Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
15 Clint Bowyer Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
16 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford
17 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford
18 David Ragan Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
19 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
20 Matt Kenseth (PC6) Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford
23 J. J. Yeley (i) BK Racing Toyota
24 Jeff Gordon (PC7) Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
26 Jeb Burton (R) BK Racing Toyota
27 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
29 Reed Sorenson RAB Racing Toyota
31 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
32 Mike Bliss (i) Go FAS Racing Ford
33 Brian Scott (i) Hillman-Circle Sport LLC Chevrolet
34 Chris Buescher (i) Front Row Motorsports Ford
35 Cole Whitt Front Row Motorsports Ford
38 David Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford
40 Landon Cassill (i) Hillman-Circle Sport LLC Chevrolet
41 Kurt Busch (PC5) Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
42 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford
44 Travis Kvapil (i) Team XTREME Racing Chevrolet
46 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
47 A. J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet
48 Jimmie Johnson (PC2) Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
51 Justin Allgaier HScott Motorsports Chevrolet
55 Brett Moffitt (R) Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
62 Brendan Gaughan (i) Premium Motorsports Chevrolet
78 Martin Truex, Jr. Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
83 Matt DiBenedetto (R) BK Racing Toyota
88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
98 Josh Wise Phil Parsons Racing Ford
Official initial entry list
Official updated entry list
Key Meaning
(R) Rookie
(i) Ineligible for points
(PC#) Past champions provisional

First practiceEdit

Kurt Busch was the fastest in the first practice session with a time of 38.556 seconds and a speed of 186.741 mph (300.531 km/h).[18] Greg Biffle scraped the wall exiting turn 4 in the opening minutes of the session, causing cosmetic damage to his car.[18] Carl Edwards, however, went to a backup car for the race after crashing his car on the exit of turn 4.[19] Edwards joked that his car "went from a 12-inch to a six-inch sub real quick", referring to the sponsors of his car for the race, fast food franchise Subway. He also stated that he "tried to save it...that was not the right decision".[19] Since the change took place prior to qualifying, Edwards is not mandated to start from the rear on Sunday, provided he does not change engines.[19]

Pos No. Driver Team Manufacturer Time Speed
1 41 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 38.556 186.741
2 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 38.838 185.385
3 78 Martin Truex, Jr. Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet 38.881 185.180
Official first practice results

QualifyingEdit

"This is huge for Gene Haas. That is what I wanted to start the interview with is thank you Gene for believing in me. This is my job. Come to the track, drive the car and put it up on the pole and go for wins. That is what Gene has told me to do from the get go and I'm glad I have this chance to go back out there and live up to why he hired me. It feels good. The guys were just spot on all day with all the adjustments. The car started off so fast and it is all due to the work back at the shop."

Kurt Busch, after taking his first pole position since 2013.[20]

Kurt Busch won the pole with a time of 38.889 seconds and a speed of 185.142 mph (297.957 km/h),[20] taking his first pole position since the 2013 Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.[20] His teammate Kevin Harvick started next to him on the front row.[20] Harvick stated that "hopefully, [they] can keep it up this week", referring to his ongoing seven-race streak of Top 2 finishes, while also stating that he "didn't get to run where [he] wanted to run there were three cars on the apron down there where [he] wanted to be that had finished their lap".[20] Reed Sorenson and Travis Kvapil both failed to qualify for the race. Brett Moffitt went to a backup car following damage sustained in qualifying and as a result, he started from the rear.

Qualifying resultsEdit

Pos No. Driver Team Manufacturer R1 R2 R3
1 41 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 38.979 38.911 38.889
2 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 38.905 39.080 38.909
3 20 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 38.791 39.104 38.926
4 18 David Ragan Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 39.022 39.029 38.943
5 42 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 39.033 39.197 39.059
6 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 39.048 39.000 39.081
7 24 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 39.374 39.017 39.112
8 2 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 39.131 39.084 39.117
9 31 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 39.299 39.141 39.189
10 15 Clint Bowyer Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota 39.442 39.196 39.257
11 27 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 39.260 39.251 39.262
12 78 Martin Truex, Jr. Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet 39.464 39.235 39.280
13 22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 39.344 39.275
14 48 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 39.097 39.289
15 19 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 39.420 39.349
16 9 Sam Hornish, Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 39.431 39.365
17 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 39.211 39.377
18 47 A. J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 39.432 39.395
19 5 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 39.375 39.399
20 14 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 39.559 39.464
21 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 39.377 39.486
22 10 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 39.551 39.530
23 43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 39.576 39.604
24 46 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 39.586 39.912
25 33 Brian Scott (i) Hillman-Circle Sport LLC Chevrolet 39.611
26 1 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 39.642
27 17 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 39.657
28 7 Alex Bowman Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 39.684
29 16 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford 39.693
30 55 Brett Moffitt (R)[N 1] Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota 39.731
31 51 Justin Allgaier HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 39.780
32 35 Cole Whitt Front Row Motorsports Ford 39.876
33 34 Chris Buescher (i) Front Row Motorsports Ford 39.888
34 26 Jeb Burton (R) BK Racing Toyota 39.995
35 98 Josh Wise Phil Parsons Racing Ford 40.050
36 6 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 40.153
37 13 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet 40.212
38 62 Brendan Gaughan (i) Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 40.312
39 32 Mike Bliss (i) Go FAS Racing Ford 40.375
40 40 Landon Cassill (i) Hillman-Circle Sport LLC Chevrolet 40.501
41 23 J. J. Yeley (i) BK Racing Toyota 40.798
42 83 Matt DiBenedetto (R) BK Racing Toyota 40.886
43 38 David Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford 41.041
Failed to qualify
44 44 Travis Kvapil (i) Team XTREME Racing Chevrolet 40.431
45 29 Reed Sorenson RAB Racing Toyota 40.706
Official qualifying results

Practice (post-qualifying)Edit

Second practiceEdit

Kurt Busch was the fastest in the second practice session with a time of 38.479 and a speed of 187.115 mph (301.132 km/h).[21]

Pos No. Driver Team Manufacturer Time Speed
1 41 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 38.479 187.115
2 48 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 39.078 184.247
3 18 David Ragan Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 39.080 184.237
Official second practice results

Final practiceEdit

Kurt Busch was the fastest in the final practice session with a time of 38.925 and a speed of 184.971 mph (297.682 km/h),[22] completing a sweep of the weekend's practice sessions and qualifying.[22]

Pos No. Driver Team Manufacturer Time Speed
1 41 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 38.925 184.971
2 27 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 39.155 183.885
3 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 39.297 183.220
Official final practice results

RaceEdit

First-halfEdit

StartEdit

As the cars were rolling off pit road, Jeff Gordon's crew swapped out something in his car, but rejoined the starting lineup with no issues. The race was scheduled to start at 3:46 p.m., but started six minutes later when Kurt Busch led the field to the green flag. The field spread out to use up about five lanes in the opening laps. Eventually, Kevin Harvick reeled in his teammate to take the lead on lap seven. Early in the race, A. J. Allmendinger began reporting that he was losing the engine of his car, while Martin Truex, Jr. did likewise. Harvick was unable to pull away from Busch who began reeling him in until Busch was slowed down by the lapped car of Jeb Burton. The first caution of the race flew on lap 23 when David Ragan got turned by an aerodynamic push from Gordon's car in turn 4.[23] Gordon had been saying on the radio that he would turn Ragan if he had to,[23] stating over his in-car radio to "let him know it's the bumper".[23] Alex Bowman stayed out to lead a lap before pitting and handed the lead to Matt Kenseth.[24]

Restart from caution 1 and green flag stopsEdit

The race restarted on lap 28. Kenseth held the lead for five laps before yielding to teammate Denny Hamlin on lap 33. A cycle of green flag stops began on lap 60. Hamlin pitted on lap 62 and handed the lead to Jeff Gordon. He pitted on lap 63 and the lead cycled back to Hamlin. Ragan and Matt DiBenedetto served drive-through penalties for uncontrolled tires on pit road, while Alex Bowman also served a drive-through for speeding.[24]

By lap 83, more than half the field were at least one lap down, before the second caution of the race flew on lap 86 for debris in turn 3. After the culmination of the next round of stops, Kenseth exited pit road with the lead.[24]

Second-halfEdit

Caution at halfwayEdit

The race restarted on lap 93. Going beneath Kenseth in turn 4, Busch took back the lead on lap 96. Two laps later, the third caution of the race flew when Sam Hornish, Jr. moved up the track exiting turn 2 and got turned into the wall by Trevor Bayne.[25] Martin Truex, Jr. exited pit road with the lead by taking two tires.[25]

The race restarted on lap 105. Truex did not hold the lead for long as Kurt Busch took the lead back in turn 1. Busch, Harvick and a mess of cars hit pit road on lap 138. Paul Menard briefly took the lead, but did not lead a lap through it while Carl Edwards did and the lead cycled back to Kurt Busch following a brief drag race down the back stretch with teammate Kevin Harvick. Michael Annett served a drive-through penalty for an uncontrolled tire.[24]

Harvick took the lead back with 56 laps to go, putting Busch in 2nd. The fourth caution of the race flew with 47 laps to go for debris on the front stretch. Matt Kenseth exited pit road with the lead. Joey Logano was forced to drop to the tail end of the line for an uncontrolled tire.[24]

Restart from caution 4 and 5th cautionEdit

The race restarted with 42 laps to go, with Matt Kenseth still out in front. Debris in turn 1 brought out the fifth caution of the race with 16 laps to go. Kurt Busch took the lead on pit road from Matt Kenseth who was pitted behind the start/finish line and exited with the lead. Kenseth broke an axle exiting his pit stall, while Denny Hamlin was forced to drop to the tail end of the line for an uncontrolled tire.[24]

Fifth restart and 6th cautionEdit

The race restarted with eleven laps to go and Harvick lost the lead to Kurt Busch. The two of them fought it out for the last few laps. The sixth caution of the race flew with two laps to go for debris in turn 4. Jeff Gordon stayed out to take the lead along with Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle.[24]

Green–white–checker finishEdit

 
Brad Keselowski, seen here at the 2015 Daytona 500, scored his 17th career win at Auto Club.

On the first attempt at a green–white–checker finish, Kyle Larson slid into the wall exiting turn 2 and lost his rear bumper, causing another caution flag, the seventh of the race. On the second attempt, Kurt Busch led the field to the green. As the white flag was waving, Greg Biffle wrecked on the front stretch. Brad Keselowski took the lead in turn 2 and powered to the checkered flag.[26] Keselowski praised the work of his team to beat Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch, who Keselowski stated "had great cars the whole weekend and probably had the field covered on speed".[26] Harvick, who recorded his eighth consecutive top-two finish, explained that he had "fought through a day of track position" but "that's what this team is made of".[26] Busch, who completed the top three, bemoaned the latter cautions, expressing that his car "just got hung out" and that he "just didn't get the job done".[27] All 43 cars were running at the race's conclusion,[28] for the first time since the 2013 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.[28]

Race resultsEdit

Pos Grid No. Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Points
1 8 2 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 209 47
2 2 4 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 209 43
3 1 41 Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 209 43
4 11 27 Paul Menard Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 209 40
5 9 31 Ryan Newman Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 209 (−36)
6 17 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 209 38
7 13 22 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 209 37
8 12 78 Martin Truex, Jr. Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet 209 37
9 14 48 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 209 35
10 7 24 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 209 35
11 23 43 Aric Almirola Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 209 33
12 31 51 Justin Allgaier HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 209 32
13 15 19 Carl Edwards Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 209 32
14 20 14 Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 209 30
15 27 17 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 209 29
16 21 3 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 209 28
17 19 5 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 209 27
18 4 18 David Ragan Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 209 26
19 22 10 Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet 209 25
20 33 34 Chris Buescher (i) Front Row Motorsports Ford 209 0
21 26 1 Jamie McMurray Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 209 23
22 30 55 Brett Moffitt (R) Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota 209 22
23 37 13 Casey Mears Germain Racing Chevrolet 209 21
24 32 35 Cole Whitt Front Row Motorsports Ford 209 20
25 40 40 Landon Cassill (i) Hillman-Circle Sport LLC Chevrolet 209 0
26 5 42 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 209 18
27 26 33 Brian Scott (i) Hillman-Circle Sport LLC Chevrolet 209 0
28 6 11 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 209 17
29 36 6 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford 209 15
30 10 15 Clint Bowyer Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota 209 14
31 3 20 Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 209 14
32 29 16 Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Racing Ford 209 12
33 28 7 Alex Bowman Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 208 12
34 18 47 A. J. Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 208 10
35 43 38 David Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford 208 9
36 35 98 Josh Wise Phil Parsons Racing Ford 207 8
37 41 23 J. J. Yeley (i) BK Racing Toyota 206 0
38 24 46 Michael Annett HScott Motorsports Chevrolet 206 6
39 34 26 Jeb Burton (R) BK Racing Toyota 205 5
40 39 32 Mike Bliss (i) Go FAS Racing Ford 205 0
41 38 62 Brendan Gaughan (i) Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 205 0
42 42 83 Matt DiBenedetto (R) BK Racing Toyota 203 2
43 16 9 Sam Hornish, Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Ford 155 1
Official Auto Club 400 results

Race statisticsEdit

  • 19 lead changes among 9 different drivers
  • 7 cautions for 31 laps
  • Time of race: 2 hours, 58 minutes, 18 seconds
  • Average speed: 140.662 mph (226.374 km/h)
  • Brad Keselowski took home $357,871 in winnings
Lap Leaders
Laps Leader
1–5 Kurt Busch
6–24 Kevin Harvick
25 Alex Bowman
26–31 Matt Kenseth
32–61 Denny Hamlin
62 Jeff Gordon
63–88 Denny Hamlin
89–94 Matt Kenseth
95–99 Kurt Busch
100–104 Martin Truex, Jr.
105–137 Kurt Busch
138 Carl Edwards
139–143 Kurt Busch
144–154 Kevin Harvick
155–185 Matt Kenseth
186–189 Kevin Harvick
190–200 Kurt Busch
201–202 Jeff Gordon
203–208 Kurt Busch
209 Brad Keselowski
Total laps led
Leader Laps
Kurt Busch 65
Denny Hamlin 56
Matt Kenseth 43
Kevin Harvick 34
Martin Truex, Jr. 5
Jeff Gordon 3
Brad Keselowski 1
Carl Edwards 1
Alex Bowman 1

Race awardsEdit

Post-raceEdit

Confrontation between Stewart and TruexEdit

Following the race, Tony Stewart confronted Martin Truex Jr. on pit road.[29] The issue stemmed from Truex trying to get down after Aric Almirola on the bottom of the track and almost collected Stewart in the process.[29] Stewart told reporters that after the issue between Truex and Almirola, Truex "drove across the race track into us" and that the move was "just stupid".[30]

Tire confiscationEdit

Following the race, NASCAR took tires from the teams of Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Paul Menard and Ryan Newman – all of whom finished in the top five[31] – and were sent to an unnamed third party for further evaluation, instead of NASCAR's R&D Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.[32]

NASCAR explanationEdit

"The process of calling any caution involves multiple people. We'll obviously scan the drivers and spotters, and if we hear anything, we've got corner workers, we've got folks on the flag stand. We'll survey all of those folks once we hear that there may be something on the track. If it's not moving, we'll confirm that that piece is not moving and we'll assume, candidly, that it's metal. If it's in the groove, obviously, that becomes a safety issue, we're going to throw the caution each and every time when that happens. If someone would have run over that and it affected a tire and that driver had an incident, we'd be hearing it on the other end as well. That's something we've got to deal with it. That's our job to make the call. We will always err on the side of safety if we see something out there and can't confirm that it's moving or not. When it's not moving, in most cases, it is a piece of metal or something heavy that is going to affect the race car."

NASCAR executive vice-president Steve O'Donnell speaking on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.[33]

Following the race, Richard Buck, director of competition for the Sprint Cup Series, met with the media to address a few of the late race calls.[34] The calls included a debris call with two laps to go,[34] multiple reports of debris before the scheduled finish,[34] and not calling a caution for Greg Biffle's spin on the final lap.[34]

NASCAR executive vice-president Steve O'Donnell joined Mike Bagley and Pete Pistone on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio programme The Morning Drive the next day to further address the calls made late in the race.[33] O'Donnell discussed how the previous day's situation was different from a similar situation with the previous month's Daytona 500, and concluded the interview with a reiteration of what Richard Buck had told the media after the race.[33]

PenaltiesEdit

On the Wednesday following the race, NASCAR penalized the No. 33 team of Brian Scott for a rules infraction discovered during opening day inspection on Friday.[35] The infraction was a P4 level penalty and violated the following sections in the 2015 NASCAR rule book:

  • 12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing;[35]
  • 20.14.2: Rear Suspension: Truck Trailing Arm[35]
  • E. The left and right side truck trailing arms must be mounted to the truck trailing arm mounting brackets using a one-piece, minimum ¾ inch diameter magnetic steel bolt.[35]
  • F. The horizontal centerline of the highest truck trailing arm mounting bolt must not be higher than the top surface of the truck trailing arm crossmember, at the respective truck trailing arm mounting bracket, when the vehicle is at inspection orientation.[35]

INFRACTION: The ¾ inch diameter magnetic steel truck trailing arm mounting bolt was not installed horizontally.[35]

  • J. Truck trailing arm must conform to the following drawing as specified in the NASCAR rule book: Rear Suspension-Truck Trailing Arm: A-008-00183-14 Rev.C[35]

INFRACTION: Truck trailing arm monoball sleeve does not meet the drawing specifications. Sleeve is required to be minimum .125 inch minimum thick x two inches wide sleeve machined for press fit of .750 I.D. or .875 I.D. monoball assembly.[35]

  • 20.3.3.2.1: Truck Trailing Arm Crossmember Assembly:Truck Trailing Arm Mounting Brackets[35]
  • B. Truck trailing arm mounting brackets must be constructed of magnetic steel flat plate with a minimum thickness of 0.169 inch.[35]

INFRACTION: Truck trailing arm mounting bracket adapter was machined from Aluminum solid.[35]

  • 20.20: Assembled Vehicle Overall Rules[35]
  • A. Except in cases explicitly permitted in the NASCAR rules, installation of additional components and/or modifications of existing components to affect the aerodynamic properties of the vehicle will not be permitted, including but not limited to, safety systems, chassis and roll cage, suspension, steering systems, brake systems, heat shields, body fillers, body sealers, filler panels, drivetrain components and exhaust components.[35]

The options for a P4 penalty are outlined the following sections of the NASCAR rule book:[35]

  • 12.5.3.4: P4 Penalty Options:[35]
  • A. Violations leading to P4 penalties, in general, are very serious. They include, but are not limited to, a broad range of infractions such as:[35]
  • B. Parts which do not meet specifications[35]
  • F. Measurement failures of significance[35]
  • G. These often involve primary component or system infractions not otherwise to the magnitude of P5 infractions, but could also include secondary component or system infractions, particularly if of a nature suggesting some of the characteristics described in P5 ... and/or involving safety implications.[35]
  • 12.5.3.4.2: Minimum P4 Penalty Options (includes all three points below):[35]
  • A. Loss of 25 championship driver and owner points, regardless of whether the violation occurred during a Championship race or not.[35]
  • B. $40,000–$75,000 fine[35]
  • C. Suspension for the next three series Championship Races, plus any non-championship races or special events which might occur during that time period, for the crew chief, plus probation through the end of the calendar year, or probation for a six month period following the issuance of the penalty notice if that period spans across two consecutive seasons.[35]

As a result of this violation, crew chief Slugger Labbe was fined $50,000 and suspended for the next three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship races, plus any non-championship races or special events which might occur during that time period.[35] Labbe has also been placed on NASCAR probation through Dec. 31.[35] In addition, car owner Joe Falk was docked 25 championship car owner points.[35]

AppealEdit

On Tuesday, April 14, the penalties were reduced to a P2 level.[36] The suspension of Slugger Labbe was upheld, but the fine was reduced to $20,000.[36] The 25 point penalty handed to the team was reduced to a ten-point penalty.[36] "The process was very fair," Falk said in a statement. "We agree the part should have been presented (beforehand) to the R&D Center. We're satisfied with the outcome and we won't appeal further."[36]

Further penaltiesEdit

"NASCAR takes very seriously its responsibility to govern and regulate the rules of the sport in order to ensure competitive balance. We've been very clear that any modifications to race vehicle tires is an unacceptable practice and will not be tolerated."

Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president, after the penalties were announced.[37]

Later on, Ryan Newman's team was penalized for rules infractions discovered as a result of NASCAR's post-event tire audit conducted following the race.[37] The infractions amounted to a P5 level penalty and violated numerous sections in the 2015 NASCAR rule book:[37]

  • 12.1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing[37]
  • 20.16: Wheels and tires
  • A. Any device, modification, or procedure to the tire or wheel, including the valve stem hardware, that is used to release pressure, beyond normal pressure adjustments, from the tire and/or inner shield, will not be permitted.[37]
  • 20.16.2: Tires
  • F. Modifications to the tires, by treatment or any other means, will not be permitted.[37]
  • Section 12.5.3.5.1 lists P5 Penalty Violation examples that could include but are not limited to:
  • A. Effecting, modifying and/or altering the standard tires in any way, other than through authorized means such as tire pressure adjustments within the recommended range, permitted tire cooling when mounted on the race vehicle; or heat-cycling on the race vehicle on the race track earlier in the event.[37]
  • 12.5.3.5.2: Minimum P5 Penalty Options (includes all four points below):
  • A. Loss of 50 championship driver and owner points, regardless of whether the violation occurred during a Championship race or not[37]
  • B. US$75,000–$125,000 fine[37]
  • C. Suspension for the next six series Championship Races, plus any non-championship races or special events which might occur during that time period, for the crew chief and any other team members as determined by NASCAR[37]
  • D. Probation through the end of the calendar year for all suspended members, or for a six-month period following the issuance of the penalty notice if that period spans across two consecutive seasons[37]
  • 12.5.3.5.3: P5 Level infractions detected during post-race inspection:

If the infraction is detected during post-race inspection, then the following penalty elements will be added to those listed previously in this section:

  • A. Loss of an additional 25 Championship driver and owner points; regardless of whether it was a Championship Race or not[37]
  • B. Loss of an additional $50,000[37]

As a result of the violations, crew chief Luke Lambert was fined $125,000, suspended from the next six Sprint Cup events, including any non-championship races or special events, and placed on NASCAR probation through December 31.[37] James Bender, team tire technician, and Philip Surgen, team engineer, were also suspended for the same amount of time.[37] Newman was penalized 75 driver and owner points.[37]

AppealEdit

"I'm thankful for our opportunity to present our facts to the appeals panel and I appreciate their consideration of those facts and making the decision to reduce the fine and points penalty. However, I am disappointed in the decision not to completely overturn the penalty based on the facts that we presented today. At this point in time we are going to consider our options and discuss as a group what we are going to do moving forward."

Luke Lambert's statement to the appeal's outcome.[38]

On Thursday, April 16, the P5 penalty was upheld, but the fines and points loss were reduced.[38] Instead of the 75 point maximum, Newman only lost the 50 point minimum and Luke Lambert's fine was reduced.[38] Lambert's six race suspension was upheld.[38] The three member National Motorsports Appeal Panel ruled that while the team had manipulated the tires (thus keeping it a P5 penalty), they amended the points and fines because "there is no written explanation of what constitutes post race inspection".[38] This stemmed from the team's argument that the tires were not inspected post-race because they were confiscated during the race.[38]

MediaEdit

TelevisionEdit

Fox Sports covered their fifteenth race at Auto Club Speedway. Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds, and Darrell Waltrip had the call in the booth for the race. Jamie Little, Chris Neville, and Matt Yocum handled the pit road duties for the television side.

Fox
Booth announcers Pit reporters
Lap-by-lap: Mike Joy
Color-commentator: Larry McReynolds
Color commentator: Darrell Waltrip
Jamie Little
Chris Neville
Matt Yocum

RadioEdit

MRN had the radio call for the race which was also simulcast on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio. Joe Moore, Jeff Striegle and 2001 race winner Rusty Wallace called the race in the booth when the field was racing down the front stretch. Dan Hubbard called the race from atop a billboard outside turn 2 when the field was racing through turns 1 and 2. Kyle Rickey called the race from billboard outside turn 4 when the field was racing through turns 3 and 4. Alex Hayden, Glenn Jarrett and Winston Kelley worked pit road for MRN.

MRN
Booth announcers Turn announcers Pit reporters
Lead announcer: Joe Moore
Announcer: Jeff Striegle
Announcer: Rusty Wallace
Turns 1 & 2: Dan Hubbard
Turns 3 & 4: Kyle Rickey
Alex Hayden
Glenn Jarrett
Winston Kelley

Standings after the raceEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Brett Moffitt started from the rear after switching to a backup car post-qualifying. He sustained damage to his primary car during qualifying.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "2015 NASCAR Schedule" (PDF). NASCAR.com. NASCAR Media Group, LLC. August 26, 2014. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  2. ^ "Auto Club Speedway". NASCAR.com. NASCAR Media Group, LLC. January 3, 2013. Archived from the original on April 27, 2015. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  3. ^ "Entry List". MRN.com. Motor Racing Network. March 16, 2015. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  4. ^ "First Practice Results". MRN.com. Motor Racing Network. March 20, 2015. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  5. ^ "Qualifying Results". MRN.com. Motor Racing Network. March 20, 2015. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  6. ^ "Second Practice Results". MRN.com. Motor Racing Network. March 21, 2015. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  7. ^ "Final Practice Results". MRN.com. Motor Racing Network. March 21, 2015. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  8. ^ "Auto Club 400 Results". MRN.com. Motor Racing Network. March 22, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  9. ^ "Points standings" (PDF). jayski.com. NASCAR Statistics. March 22, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  10. ^ "Manufacturer standings". NASCAR.com. NASCAR Media Group, LLC. March 22, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  11. ^ Paulsen (March 23, 2015). "Overnights Flat For NASCAR From Fontana". SportsMediaWatch.com. Sports Media Watch. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  12. ^ a b Paulsen (March 27, 2015). "Mixed Numbers For NASCAR From Fontana". SportMediaWatch.com. Sports Media Watch. Retrieved March 28, 2015.
  13. ^ a b c Pistone, Pete (March 16, 2015). "NASCAR Making Qualifying Change". MRN.com. Motor Racing Network. Retrieved March 16, 2015.
  14. ^ a b Spencer, Lee (March 18, 2015). "Jay Robinson suspends operation of No. 66 team". Motorsport.com. Motorsport.com, Inc. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  15. ^ Jensen, Tom (March 20, 2015). "Brian Vickers sidelined with blood clots; Brett Moffitt returns to No. 55". FoxSports.com. Fox Sports Interactive Media, LLC. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  16. ^ Pistone, Pete (March 20, 2015). "Vickers Sidelined". MRN.com. Motor Racing Network. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  17. ^ Spencer, Lee (March 20, 2015). "Buescher to drive the No. 34 Ford Sprint Cup car at Fontana". Motorsport.com. Motorsport.com, Inc. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  18. ^ a b McFadin, Daniel (March 20, 2015). "Kurt Busch fastest in Sprint Cup's first Auto Club practice session". nascartalk.nbcsports.com. NBC Sports. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  19. ^ a b c Pennell, Jay (March 20, 2015). "Edwards wrecks in Friday Fontana practice, forced to backup car". FoxSports.com. Fox Sports Interactive Media, LLC. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  20. ^ a b c d e Pistone, Pete (March 20, 2015). "Auto Club Pole to Kurt Busch". MRN.com. Motor Racing Network. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  21. ^ Bonkowski, Jerry (March 21, 2015). "Kurt Busch stays on a hot roll: fastest in Saturday morning Sprint Cup practice in Fontana". nascartalk.nbcsports.com. NBC Sports. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  22. ^ a b Bonkowski, Jerry (March 21, 2015). "Kurt Busch stays perfect for weekend, leads Sprint Cup happy hour". nascartalk.nbcsports.com. NBC Sports. Retrieved March 21, 2015.
  23. ^ a b c Pennell, Jay (March 22, 2015). "Gordon takes out frustration on David Ragan in early laps at Fontana". FoxSports.com. Fox Sports Interactive Media, LLC. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g "2015 Auto Club 400". Sprint Cup Series. Season 67. Fontana, California. March 22, 2015. Event occurs at 3:52 p.m. Fox Sports. Fox. Retrieved July 17, 2015.
  25. ^ a b McFadin, Daniel (March 22, 2015). "Martin Truex Jr. leads Auto Club 400 at midway point, Denny Hamlin lap leader". nascartlak.nbcsports.com. NBC Sports. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  26. ^ a b c Pistone, Pete (March 22, 2015). "Last Lap Win For Keselowski". MRN.com. Motor Racing Network. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  27. ^ Beacham, Greg (March 22, 2015). "Brad Keselowski holds off Harvick late, wins at Fontana". AP Sports. Fontana, California: Associated Press. Associated Press. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  28. ^ a b "Fontana NASCAR: Penske's Brad Keselowski grabs win on final lap". Autosport.com. Haymarket Media Group. March 22, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  29. ^ a b Schrader, Stef (March 22, 2015). "Tony Stewart Is Pissed And Wants Martin Truex Jr. To Know About It". blackflag.jalopnik.com. Kinja. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  30. ^ Bonkowski, Jerry (March 22, 2015). "Report states Stewart, Truex unhappy with each other after mid-race incident". nascartalk.nbcsports.com. NBC Sports. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  31. ^ Spencer, Lee (March 23, 2015). "NASCAR's checks and balances include tires". Motorsport.com. Motorsport.com, Inc. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  32. ^ Spencer, Lee (March 26, 2015). "It's TIREsome, but the hunt continues". Motorsport.com. Motorsport.com, Inc. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  33. ^ a b c Long, Dustin (March 23, 2015). "NASCAR executive on calling late-race cautions: 'If we can race back ... we're going to do that'". nascartalk.nbcsports.com. NBC Sports. Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  34. ^ a b c d "NASCAR Sprint Cup director on late-race decisions: 'We feel very, very confident about our actions'". nascartalk.nbcsports.com. NBC Sports. March 22, 2015. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z "No. 33 Sprint Cup team gets P4 penalty". NASCAR.com. Official NASCAR Release. March 25, 2015. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  36. ^ a b c d Albert, Zack (April 14, 2015). "No. 33 penalty reduced from P4 to P2". NASCAR.com. NASCAR Media Group, LLC. Retrieved April 15, 2015.
  37. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "No. 31 Sprint Cup team penalized for rules violations". NASCAR.com. Official NASCAR Release. March 31, 2015. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
  38. ^ a b c d e f Pistone, Pete (April 16, 2015). "RCR Penalty Upheld – Points and Fine Reduced". MRN.com. Motor Racing Network. Retrieved April 16, 2015.


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