Auto Club Speedway in Fontana is hosting its first Chase for the Sprint Cup race. This is race No. 4 of the 10-race playoff. After three races, Mark Martin leads the Chase standings, with three-time reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson 18 points behind in second.
Johnson pretty much dominated this race last year. He won the pole and the race. The difference is, because Fontana is in the Chase, the race is in October, not Labor Day weekend. It will be much cooler, and consequently much faster than last year's race.
Weather cooperating, the track should yield some favorable conditions for drivers and crew. In talking to some of the drivers, they are especially looking forward to racing in Fontana without 117 degree temperatures. Surely the fans will appreciate not having to bake in the sun for three or four hours.
Here are some record speeds and times that might fall this weekend:
Brian Vickers holds the qualifying record at Fontana. He recorded a lap at 187.417 mph to win the pole in 2004.
Kasey Kahne holds the race record. He had an average speed of 144.462 mph and won the race in 2006 in 3 hours, 36 minutes and 3 seconds.
Denny Hamlin holds the Nationwide Series qualifying record at Fontana. He won the pole at 180.316 mph in 2007.
Greg Biffle won the Nationwide Series race in 2004 with a record average speed of 138.978 mph and in 2 hours, 9 minutes, 31 seconds.
Photo: Mark Martin (5) leads the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings after three races. He has an 18-point lead over Jimmie Johnson, who won last year's race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, site of Sunday's race. (Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)