Date: March 18, 2018
Event: Auto Club 400 (Round 5 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (2-mile oval)
Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/80 laps)
Start/Finish: 26th/11th (Running, completed 199 of 200 laps)
Point Standing: 9th with 155 points, 61 out of first
Race Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Furniture Row Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):
● Started 26th and finished ninth.
● Raced in 16th after first lap.
● Faded back in the field as he told the crew his car wouldn’t turn well in turns three and four.
● Crew’s adjustments improved the handling, and Bowyer began turning top-10 lap times.
● Drove from 20th to ninth.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):
● Started 15th, finished ninth.
● Lap times were again among the best on the track.
● Crew continued to work to make the car turn better in the corners.
● Bowyer reported slight wall contact in the closing laps, but it required only minor repairs.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-200):
● Started 10th, finished 11th.
● Bowyer raced in eighth with 50 laps remaining.
● Made his final green-flag pit stop with 40 laps left in the race.
● While running ninth and with about 10 laps to go, Bowyer reported his tire was going down.
● He slowed hoping to make it to the finish and fell back to 11th.
● Bowyer said the tire came apart on the final lap, but he still managed to finish.
● This was Bowyer’s fourth top-15 finish of 2018.
● Bowyer finished ninth in Stage 1 to earn two bonus points and ninth in Stage 2 to earn an additional two bonus points.
● Truex won the Auto Club 400 to score his 16th career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first at Fontana and first of the season. His margin of victory over second-place Kyle Larson was 11.685 seconds.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 21 laps.
● Only 10 of the 37 drivers in the Auto Club 400 finished on the lead lap.
Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We got really lucky to finish this race today. That tire was coming apart, and I didn’t think we had any chance of making it to the checkered flag – but it did. We wanted more than 11th, and at times today we were really good. We got some stage points, but we have some work to do. We’ll be ready for Martinsville.”
The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Martinsville 500 on Sunday, March 25 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1 beginning at 12:30 p.m.
TSC PR/Photo Robert Laberge/Getty Images