Unlike after Daytona you can get a good picture of how a season is going to go after visiting California. In the past 4 years roughly 8 out of the top 10 drivers at Auto Club Speedway make the Chase for the Championship at the end of the year. Obviously if this holds it is good news for RCR.
1. Jimmy Johnson loves California and would sure miss it if the track lost one of its dates in the coming years. Jimmy may have ?lucked? into this win but his record at Auto Club Speedway is among the best and he was running strong in the first half of the race.
2. The reason why California may lose a race has more to do with attendance then racing. The track in the past has been known for pretty bland racing but this year proved it can be exciting. Problem is only roughly half the capacity witnessed it in person.
3. The down year last year by RCR will not continue to this year. RCR is poised to have all 3 members in the Chase this year which would match 2008.
4. While RCR is back Roush may not be. Auto Club Speedway is one of Roush?s best tracks and while they finished decently this year they did not even match last year?s level at California where it is safe to say they had a less than ideal season afterwards.
5. While Jimmy Johnson just did win this still is the year where drivers like Kevin Harvick and Mark Martin have the best chance to unseat him for the Championship. The gap is closing.
6. Joey Logano will challenge for one of the Chase berths. We always knew the talent was there but now Joey Logano looks to be much more consistent. At the beginning of the season I had him finishing 13th so it is not out of the question he sneaks into the Chase.
7. Equipment failures haunt Junior. Auto Club Speedway is one of Dale Jr?s worst tracks statically so his finish is not all that unsurprising. But at this point it should also not surprise us at how he is finishing so low either. His equipment for one reason or another picks the most inopportune time to quit on him (like there ever is a good time in NASCAR). Confidence is the key to Junior. If this ruins that he is in for a long year again.
8. Scott Speed will be much improved this year. Sure it is only two races but Speed looks to be relying less on pure ?speed? (which has been a problem in the past) and more on trying to do the little things like draft well and find the right groove. He should be comfortably in the top 35 after the first 5 races of this year. Speed is finally ?getting it? much like Montoya did last year.
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