California dreaming: Larry Mac impressed with Sunday’s race in Fontana

Between late-race drama, varying pit strategies and big crowds, Larry McReynolds believes NASCAR hit a home run at Auto Club Speedway and the three-race West Coast swing. 

(Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty I

Fortunately the racing at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California has become predictable — and I mean that in a very positive way.

Sunday was yet another example of that. There was great racing for the lead as well as great racing throughout the field. We also had a couple of late-race cautions, which seems to be the norm there, which once again changed the complexion of the race.

I really also loved all the strategy that unfolded. You had drivers like Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle that opted to stay out on that next to last caution. You had teammates Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick, along with a handful of others, changing just two tires. Then you had Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe rolling the dice and electing to change all four tires. So, we had a lot of different teams on a lot of different agendas.

I said late in our NASCAR on FOX broadcast Sunday that there really wasn’t a wrong call made amongst them. Eventual race winner Brad Keselowski told us during "NASCAR Victory Lane" on FOX Sports 1 that it actually took that last caution to make his strategy work.

Obviously no one has a crystal ball as to when cautions might happen, but I have to tell you, with all the different strategies we witnessed, it had Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and myself up in that television booth up on our toes because we didn’t know what was going to happen.

I was once again amazed by Kurt Busch. In only his second week back from suspension not only did he sit on the pole for Sunday’s race, but also led the most laps (65), contended for the win and brought his Haas Automation Chevrolet home third. I know he was probably disappointed that he wasn’t able to close the deal, but he has absolutely nothing to hang his head about.

He has obviously overcome a lot on the personal side, but to do what he did last week at Phoenix International Raceway and then back that up with what he did Sunday once again proves what I have said for years, that he is arguably one of the best talents in the entire garage area.

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It was also fun to watch Kurt and teammate Kevin Harvick battle it out on the track. Kevin led 34 laps Sunday and finished second. Kevin really hasn’t had a whole lot of competition from the rest of the field of late, let alone from a teammate, so to see those two battling it out Sunday was pretty cool.

I also have to say something about this West Coast swing. I’ll be the first to tell you that I raised an eyebrow about it when the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule was first announced, but it really delivered. It was a neat, neat part of our schedule and I’ll admit, I hate to see it end. I think NASCAR absolutely hit a home run with it.  

We only go to Auto Club Speedway once a year but I think it’s a good thing for that race track. I think it creates excitement and anticipation for the race fans out there as the race grows near.

You might not realize it, but when it comes to the asphalt surfaces we race on, Auto Club Speedway’s is the oldest. I just close with this, "Woe be onto them" if they ever think about repaving that place. 

VIDEO: Brad Keselowski takes four tires to win at Auto Club Speedway