The Backstretch Blog: California Love
California Love (March 25, 2012)
""I like California," said Denny Hamlin. "I think the track is aging really well. It's getting to where you can run all over from the bottom to the very top."
And that's a big reason that driver seem to like this track. It's challenging to drive.
"That place is tough," said Kyle Busch. "It's really a hard race track to get ahold of now, especially when it's hot and the sun is out. There are two completely different types of racing when you run the top versus the bottom groove."
Which had actually made the racing a little more interesting of late. But it's hard to convince fans of that. Especially when the same people seem to win a lot at this track, and especially when one of them is Jimmie Johnson. The five time champ, is a five time winner in Cali.
"It is my home track. We got our first Sprint Cup career win there in '02, so it's a special track to me," said Johnson. "I definitely always see some friends and family while we are out there."
And Johnson is one of eight drivers that drive at least part time in the series that are from California. So this is a homecoming for a number of drivers.
"It's fun to race in front of a lot of your fans and friends that get to come to the race track from close to where we used to live." said Bakersfield native Kevin Harvick. He too is a big fan of the raciness of the track. "I just enjoy how the track has really spread out and the groove you can run from the bottom to the top."
Probably one of the biggest complaints that fans have about the track, is on that the have about many of the mile and a half to two mile tracks, fuel mileage races are not fun. And Auto Club certainly has a history of producing that kind of racing. But never fear, said Jeff Burton, the EF1 is here.
"Fuel mileage appears to be a little bit better with the new EFI engine. You burn less fuel when you are off the throttle with EFI than you did with the carburetor. It's a little more efficient while you are in the throttle so you are going to get a little better fuel mileage," said Burton. "Of course, that means the whole field is going to get better fuel mileage."
Besides the Cali natives, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards have been very good here. On the flip side, Joe Gibbs racing, which has looked strong to start the weekend, has never won in Cali.