Find the Latest News on Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Pre-Race Notes and Quotes: Fontana

Hendrick Motorsports | Race Preview Published 3/20/2013

EVENT: Auto Club 400
TRACK: Auto Club Speedway
LENGTH: 2-mile D-shaped oval
DATE: Sunday, March 24, 2013
TV: Fox (Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. ET)
RADIO: MRN (Coverage beings at 2:30 p.m. ET)

News & Notes

POINTS REPORT: Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished sixth last weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and currently ranks second in the driver standings. After four NASCAR Sprint Cup events this season, Earnhardt has two top-five finishes and four top-10s. He trails leader Brad Keselowski by nine points.

STRONG START: Earnhardt is off to the best Cup start of his career with four consecutive top-10 results and an average finish of fifth in the first four events of the 2013 season. Prior to this year, his best start was last year when he drove the No. 88 Chevy to an average finish of 10.25 in the first four 2012 contests.

LEAD LAP: Earnhardt is one of five drivers who has completed all 1,283 laps run this season, and the driver of the No. 88 Chevy ranks first with his percentage of time spent on the lead lap (99.53 percent). He has raced 1,277 laps of the 1,283 held on the lead lap.

CHASSIS INFO: Crew chief Steve Letarte will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-716 for this weekend's 400-mile event at Auto Club Speedway. Earnhardt most recently raced this chassis to a 10th-place finish last year at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

AT FONTANA: In 20 Sprint Cup starts at Auto Club Speedway, Earnhardt has scored four top-five finishes and five top-10s. He recorded a career-best runner-up finish at the Fontana, Calif., racetrack in September 2006. Last year, he notched a third-place result, his best in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

INTERMEDIATE TRACK STATS: In 228 Cup starts on intermediate (one- to two-mile) tracks, Earnhardt has recorded six wins, six pole positions, 44 top-five finishes and 90 top-10s. He has a 16.5 average starting position and an average finishing position of 16.6 on these racetracks.

HENDRICK AT FONTANA: Hendrick Motorsports has won four of the last nine events at Fontana. The organization has nine wins, 30 top-five finishes and 42 top-10s in 23 Cup events (90 starts) at the two-mile oval.

ALL-TIME: Jimmie Johnson leads drivers all-time at the two-mile California track in wins (five), top-five finishes (12), top-10s (14), laps led (851), average start (9.1) and average finish (5.4). Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon ranks second with 622 laps led there and is tied for second with two pole positions among all-time drivers at the two-mile West Coast track.

FONTANA FOR FIRSTS: Gordon won the inaugural Cup race at California in June 1997 after starting third and leading 113 laps. Johnson won the first race of his Cup career at the two-mile oval in April 2002 after starting fourth and leading 62 circuits. Alan Gustafson, currently crew chief of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS, scored his first career Cup pole position as crew chief of the No. 5 team in February 2005 and his first career Cup win with the No. 5 team in the second California event later that year.

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be available to members of the media on Friday at 10:45 a.m. local time in the media center at Auto Club Speedway.


DALE EARNHARDT JR. (ON CALIFORNIA.): “I like the way the track has gotten really wide and you can run at the bottom, at the top or the middle. I love tracks like that. They put on really good races, and there are opportunities to pass when you run a guy down, you can change the line you’re running and get some clean air on your car. You feel confident that if you do the right thing and drive the car well, that you can make a pass. I love that about that race track. The surface has got a good age on it and we even run on the apron some down there in Turns 3 and 4, which is a lot of fun when you can get your car to do that. It’s a wide track; I think the racing there is a lot of fun for a driver.”

After Ford EcoBoost 400
Rank +/- Driver Points Behind
1 +3 Kevin Harvick 5043 0
2 +1 Ryan Newman 5042 -1
3 -2 Denny Hamlin 5037 -6
4 -2 Joey Logano 5028 -15
5 -- Brad Keselowski 2361 -2682
6 -- Jeff Gordon 2348 -2695
7 -- Matt Kenseth 2334 -2709
8 +2 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 2301 -2742
9 -- Carl Edwards 2288 -2755
10 -2 Kyle Busch 2285 -2758
11 +2 Jimmie Johnson 2274 -2769
12 +2 Kurt Busch 2263 -2780
Full Standings