"You've been under green for 58 laps, everyone's gotta pit, Cole." One of the more infamous lines from the classic movie, Days of Thunder. Who'd have thought that this kind of attitude would become reality in a race that saw more tire trouble than anything.
One product of an old track and a new car is that the tires have not changed, and with the increased speeds from the new Generation-6 car, it has shown that the tires were gonna take a brunt of the abuse. Teams could adjust more on the new car, including camber both front and rear, and all afternoon at the Auto Club Speedway there seemed to be a problem with tires, specifically left-side tires.
It began early, and began happening often. It became a battle of who could last long enough to win. At the time, it seemed like Jimmie Johnson would get the win, and at the same time Jeff Gordon seemed to have the best car to catch him. Then, the Lowe's Chevrolet loses a tire, and Gordon assumes the lead. Then another had tire issues...then another....and another. NASCAR threw the late caution after a spin put debris on track, and in a race that had seen everything, it was getting a green-white-checkered. That was when the tires became the issue.
Back to the quote up top, as everyone for the most part decided to get new tires, but some elected just two, and not on the side that has experienced issues. In the end, two tires were not the right call, and it was four tires that made the right move to the front.
But, instead of the ones that normally one would expect, it would be last year's winner, Kyle Busch, making the right moves, and holding the lead over a fast-charging Kyle Larson to get his first win of the season, and the fifth different winner to start the season.
That win by Rowdy gave four writers a win this week, leaving only just two without a victory through five races. Here's where the standings are following a very eventful Auto Club 400:
Kara Martin (187) Kyle Busch WON - 2
Ryan O'Hara (186) Carl Edwards finished 10th - 2
Rob Tiongson (186) Jimmie Johnson finished 24th - 1
Sal Sigala Jr (185) Kyle Busch WON - 2
Dustin Parks (171) Jimmie Johnson finished 24th - 1
Michael Hirshbein (158) Kyle Busch WON - 1
Rob Blount (153) Kyle Busch WON - 1
Patti Rodisch (145) Brad Keselowski finished 26th - 1
Billy Fellin (125) Joey Logano finished 39th - 0
Aaron Rosser (124) Kevin Harvick finished 36th - 1
James Broomhead (113) Jimmie Johnson finished 24th - 1
Misan Akuya (105) Kevin Harvick finished 36th - 0
Next Race: After all the high speeds on such a worn surface, it seems only appropriate that NASCAR goes to another worn surface, but is a completely different kind of track. In fact, the only way to get one's attention here is to use the bumper. If a car leaves here with no damage, likely it means they parked early to avoid it. Dings, bends, tire marks and tape are badges of honor.
NASCAR is heading to Martinsville next week, with the winner receiving the traditional gift of a grandfather clock. This short track is known for its trophies, but also the hot dogs sold to fans.
Writers, no bangingn in your decision making this week. Have picks for the STP 500 submitted by 10 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 27.