This is the season that every manufacturer and team is trying to get through so they can turn their full attention to the Next Gen race car that will be used full time beginning at Daytona to kick off the 2021 season.
Until then there is still the business of competing to try and win this season’s NASCAR Cup Series with the present car. It’s going to be a fine line between investing in a car that will no longer be used after this season and preparing a brand new fleet of cars for next season.
Chevrolet teams struggled last season when compared to the fortunes of the series dominating Toyota teams led by Joe Gibbs Racing and also those teams campaigning Fords. Chevrolet’s answer was to introduce a new front end for its Camaro and the early season results show that the Bow Tie teams have narrowed the distance between them and the rest of the competition on race day.
Sunday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Alex Bowman took the checkered flag in the Auto Club 400 with a dominating performance that saw him lead 110 of the 200 lap event.
It was the first win of the young season for Chevrolet and Bowman who took over the wheel of the Hendrick Motorsports. No. 88 Chevrolet after the retirement of Dale Earnhardt Jr. It was the second win of his young career as his first trip to victory lane was at Chicagoland Speedway in June of last season.
Bowman’s margin of victory of 8.904 seconds over second place Kyle Busch further showed the domination of his HMS Chevrolet on the day. Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott finished third and fourth in Chevrolets with Brad Keselowski’s Ford rounding out the top-five.
Sunday’s stop at Fontana was the third of the young season and NASCAR has to like what has taken place so far.
The sanctioning body loves it when the playing field is level and all three manufacturers are experiencing success on the track. That is what has taken place so far this season as Denny Hamlin was able to put his Toyota cross the finish line first at Daytona and Joey Logano came back the following week to give Ford its first win of the season at Las Vegas. Sunday’s win by Bowman now gives all three manufacturers a win which can do nothing but to help continue to build on the early season momentum that the series is now experiencing.
PIT NOTES: William Byron will stay over at Auto Club Speedway on Monday and Tuesday to be behind the wheel at NASCAR’s third test of its Next Gen race car. Three more test are schedule later this spring following race weekends at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway.
Testing will continue for the new car June 2 and 3 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on July 14 and 15.
Later in the year the sanctioning body will begin organized team testing with a tentative schedule of 12 test dates that run between August and December. Charlotte Motor Speedway makes up the bulk of the team testing dates with eight test sessions with three of those taking place on the track’s Roval layout that is made up of the track’s infield road course along with portions of the track’s mile and a half tri-oval.
Kyle Busch earlier this season won his 57th NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series race at Las Vegas and in the process stretched his consecutive win total in the series to seven.
His streak of truck wins started in 2018 at Pocono and continued last season when he won all five of his starts in his Kyle Busch Motorsports truck. His domination in the sport has led Kevin Harvick to put a $50,000 bounty up for any full time Cup driver who can beat Busch in one of his remaining truck races.
The amount of the bounty was doubled when Marcus Lemonis put up an additional $50,000. Chris Larsen from Halmar International joined in on the bounty hunt when he put up $50,000 for any Truck Series regular driver that beats Busch.