The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., for Sunday’s 2022 Wise Power 400. It’s the first NASCAR Cup Series race at Fontana in over 700 days, since the beginning of the COVID pandemic. Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman won that last race in 2020 after qualifying third. Today, though, everyone gets a fresh start at glory. And one long-time NASCAR driver says he has just one goal in mind.
Kurt Busch will face race penalties and a missing crew chief at Fontana
Last week’s Daytona 500 champion Austin Cindric will start on the pole Sunday. It’s the Penske driver’s first career Cup pole, which he claimed with an average lap speed of 174.647 mph in his No. 2 Ford during Saturday’s qualifying. Petty GMS Motorsports’ Erik Jones qualified second (174.157 mph) in the No. 43 Chevrolet.
Kurt Busch has won at ASW once previously; as has other starters like Alex Bowman, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex, Jr.
Busch’s brother, Kyle, enters this race with four victories at the California track, the most among all active drivers. The younger Busch has 11 top-5 finishes in 22 Cup starts with a 9.59 Average-Finish Position (AFP). He has led 807 laps at Fontana, which also tops all active drivers. Busch qualified third Saturday.
Kurt Busch, however, is second among active drivers with 298 laps led at the track, so he’s no slouch, either. He currently has eight top-5 finishes on his NASCAR resume in 27 career Cup starts. Unfortunately, the elder Busch will have to overcome some technical setbacks in he wants to capture the checkered flag. The No. 45 team failed inspection three times in pre-qualifying, so they will have to serve a pass-through penalty once the race goes green. Busch will also be racing without crew chief David Bryant, who has been ejected for Sunday as part of the penalty.
Harvick, Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Bubba Wallace and B.J. McLeod also failed pre-qualifying inspection at least once. Each team had a crew member ejected for the race as a result.
Other tidbits about the race
2020 Cup Series champion and Most Popular Driver Award winner Chase Elliott looked like the fastest car on the track in qualifying until he spun out during his lap. Elliott will start from the No. 8 spot.
According to sports gambling books, Kyle Larson is the favorite to win this race at more than 4 to 1. Kyle Busch is right behind him clocking in at 6.5 to 1, according to odds makers. Truex, Jr., drives with 10 to 1 odds considering as he has a victory in the past, he has led 236 laps in California, and has seven top-10 finishes to his name.