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Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway

Marty Snider, Kyle Petty, and Nate Ryan detail why Fontana marks the "real" start to the 2023 Cup season after the Clash at the Coliseum and Daytona, and preview teams and drivers that need a good effort.

Race No. 2 on the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series schedule will mark an ending.

Sunday’s 400-mile event at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California is scheduled to be the final race on the track’s two-mile oval. Plans call for a half-mile track to be built on the speedway site, although there is no projected date for its completion. ACS will not be on NASCAR’s 2024 Cup schedule.

The track hosted one Cup race a year from 1997 to 2003, then two a year from 2004 to 2010. There has been one race a year at Fontana since 2011.

Drivers to watch at Auto Club Speedway:


Kyle Busch

  • Points position: 22nd
  • Best seasonal finish: 19th (Daytona 1)
  • Past at Auto Club: Wins in 2005, 2013, 2014, 2019

Busch’s first point race with Richard Childress Racing was promising. He ran well in the Daytona 500, leading laps and moving toward the front in the final laps before being absorbed in one of the late-race crashes. ACS has been one of his best tracks. He has four finishes of eighth or better there in the past five races.

MORE: Fontana finale raises questions about racing’s future in Southern California

Joey Logano

  • Points position: 1st
  • Best seasonal finish: 2nd (Daytona 1)
  • Past at Auto Club: No wins but six finishes of 7th or better in past seven races

Logano played the draft to near-perfection at Daytona, leading 12 laps and landing in the middle of the mix at the front in the closing laps. He lost a shot at victory when caution flew on the final lap and he was slightly behind winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Christopher Bell

  • Points position: 4th
  • Best seasonal finish: 3rd (Daytona 1)
  • Past at Auto Club: Two starts and two did-not-finish results

Bell closed out 2022 with a strong run and opened 2023 with a third-place finish and 20 laps led at Daytona. Auto Club could tell much about how the early weeks of the season will go for the No. 20 team.


Chris Buescher

  • Points position: 2nd
  • Best seasonal finish: 4th (Daytona 1)
  • Past at Auto Club: Best finish is 16th twice (2019, 2020)

Buescher and teammate Brad Keselowski drafted together at Daytona and totaled 74 laps led. Can that momentum carry over to Race 2?

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: Joey Logano is No. 1

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best seasonal finish: 1st (Daytona 1)
  • Past at Auto Club: Best finish is 5th (2016)

Stenhouse broke a 199-race winless streak (fourth longest in series history) by scoring at Daytona. A win at ACS would make him the first driver to win the first two races of the season since Matt Kenseth in 2009. Sunday’s race will be the first indicator of how much momentum the 500 win might give one of the series’ smaller teams.

Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 17th
  • Best seasonal finish: 18th (Daytona 1)
  • Past at Auto Club: Three top twos in last five races

Larson charged to the front late in the Daytona 500 but lost his victory chance in an accident. He won at Auto Club Speedway last year and in 2017.