It’s not often when a driver gets so close so many times, that one begins to think they never will break through to accomplish the ultimate goal. This season, through four races, the No. 42 team has played runner-up for three of them, including coming so close to winning the Daytona 500.
There was no question the team was going to find victory at some point. It was only a matter of when, and where.
However, Sunday’s race took place at a track that is very similar to where this team won last season. Two miles in length, same as Michigan. A pair of 14-degree corners, just slightly less banking than Michigan. The distance…400 miles, exactly the same as Michigan.
Everything was set up for success. Fast car, pole position, a stage win, and the dominance for the entire race.
And then came the end. Caution…after caution…after caution. Will it ever end?
Finally, it did, and Kyle Larson literally had the bulls eye on his car and hit the target square in the center. It took too long for some to see him get his first victory. But, there was very little wait for the second celebration. Five races this year, and five different winners. Over 25 percent of the playoff field has already been set.
His victory today finally broke a League drought. Four participants broke through and earned the first win of the 2017 season, while also making major moves up in the points. Others suffered a setback, and are wanting to get away from the west coast as quickly as possible.
Here’s the new standings after Sunday’s Auto Club 400:
Rob Tiongson (217) Chase Elliott finished 10th –  0
Dalton Hastings (189) Chase Elliott finished 10th –  2
Ashley Hull (181) Kyle Larson WON –  6
Billy Fellin (181) Kyle Busch finished 8th –  2
Misan Akuya (172) Kyle Larson WON –  9
Ashley Hobbs (162) Kyle Larson WON –  6
Ashley McCubbin (147) Chase Elliott finished 10th –  2
Dustin Parks (134) Jimmie Johnson finished 21st –  1
Patti Rodisch (132) Kyle Larson WON –  8
Klarissa Mitchell (124) Chase Elliott finished 10th –  0
Rob Blount (121) Brad Keselowski finished 10th –  0
Penny Whitecotton (108) Kevin Harvick finished 13th –  1
Sal Sigala Jr. (89) Jimmie Johnson finished 21st –  0
Next Race: So, NASCAR just completed it’s western tour by going to California, where rush hour normally happens 10 times a week. It occurs when everyone heads to work in the morning, then after the day is complete, and often there’s a few angry individuals that are seen in one of the lanes on the freeway.
Next week, NASCAR’s version of rush hour has a little different feeling, although speeds are pretty close to what is seen on I-81 that runs by the area.
Coming up in a week’s time, the “Paperclip” will see it’s first action of the year. Normally, Martinsville is the second short track that the sport will visit on the season. But this year, a bit of a swap has taken place. The drag strips that include hairpin corners will certainly test the equipment of the teams, and the patience of the drivers.
Writers, time to test your patience because it is a track that will generate a lot of emotions. Have your picks ready by Thursday, March 30, at 10 p.m. ET for the STP 500.