You knew that Martin Truex, Jr. had a fast car after snaring the pole for the race. But Kevin Harvick also had a fast car, setting a track record during practice. But an early, and unlikely, crash in Stage 1 sent Harvick to the garage and opened the door for someone else to win the race. That someone turned out to be Truex, who started on the pole, won both Stages, led the most laps and lapped most of the field on his way to a dominating win.
Kyle Busch led 62 laps on his way to a disappointing third place run. I say disappointed because Busch was pretty upset that he didn’t win this race. He just couldn’t stay in front of Truex even in clean air. To rub salt in the wound, one of his crew made an error on a track bad adjustment on the last set of tires so that did nothing to improve his handling or his disposition.
Aside from that, this was a good race for Joe Gibbs Racing with three of the four cars finishing in the Top 10. The same could be said for SHR with Kevin Harvick’s teammates all in the Top 15. Jimmie Johnson gathered up a Top 10 run which he desperately needed. His teammates didn’t fare as well with all of the Hendrick cars starting at the rear of the field without ever running a qualifying lap. Thirteen cars failed to qualify after failing inspection. That’s right folks, thirteen cars. Fully one-third of the field. Of course, that also means two-thirds of the field did qualify. The easy answer is “bring legal cars to inspection then.” But if a third of the field isn’t passing the new inspection system, it seems like it’s more than a couple of crew chiefs looking to push the limits. We’ll have to see just how this works out the rest of the season. I am all for leveling the playing field, but I am also a fan of figuring out how to make your car better than everyone else’s car. Otherwise, it is just one big IROC race.
I like what Fox Sports is attempting to do this year with new camera views. The in-car helmet cameras really show you what the driver is seeing and experiencing. California has a track surface that has really aged and has a lot of bumps. You could see that in the way the cars were bouncing all over the place and the in-car shot showed you how much the driver moves and how much they have to work the wheel to keep the car pointed more or less straight. The new tracking pit road camera is great but needs some work. As the cars are coming down pit road, the new camera gives you a unique wall point of view we have never seen before. I don’t know if they will be able to use this at every track but it was very cool. Where this needs some work is when they pointed that tracking camera at the track as cars were racing by at 200 mph. The camera can’t keep up with that speed and the strobe effect of the wall construction flashing past was terribly distracting. If that is unique to the way the wall is built at Fontana, then it is a great view. Otherwise it needs to be tweaked to get rid of that strobe effect.
And in case you missed it, Harvick’s wreck dropped him to eighth place in the points even with his three wins. That’s just weird.
Lowes will not be on the side of Jimmie Johnson’s car in 2019 which leaves the door open for another sponsor to step up to the plate. The days of a single sponsor for all 36 races is slowly receding in the rear view mirror.
Next up is Martinsville where Kyle Busch may just get his first win of the year. Aerodynamics are less important at Martinsville where handling and driver are the difference. He’ll be battling the Team Penske cars for the win I think. And we’ll have to see just how Jimmie Johnson and the Hendrick teams step up. They have obviously been lacking at the bigger tracks, it will be interesting to see how they fare here and at Bristol.