2013 Auto Club 400
|Race 5 of 36 in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season|
Layout of the track
|Date||March 24, 2013|
|Location||Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California, United States|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
2 mi (3.2 km)
|Distance||200 laps, 400 mi (643.7 km)|
|Weather||Clear with a temperature around 73 °F (23 °C); wind out of the SW at 9 miles per hour (14 km/h).|
|Average speed||135.351 mph (217.826 km/h)|
|Driver||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing|
||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|Television in the United States|
|Announcers||Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds|
(8.002 million viewers)
The 2013 Auto Club 400 was a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock car race held on March 24, 2013, at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, United States. Contested over 200 laps on the 2-mile (3.2 km) asphalt D-shaped oval, it was the fifth race of the 2013 Sprint Cup Series championship. Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing won the race, his first of the season, and the first Sprint Cup win at Auto Club for Joe Gibbs, completing a weekend sweep, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. finished second and Joey Logano finished third.
The track, Auto Club Speedway, is a four-turn superspeedway that is 2 miles (3.2 km) long. The track's turns are banked from fourteen degrees, while the front stretch, the location of the finish line, is banked at eleven degrees. Unlike the front stretch, the backstraightaway is banked at three degrees. The track has a seating capacity of 92,100 people. The race consists of 200 laps, which is equivalent to a race distance of 400 miles (640 km).
Before the race, Brad Keselowski was leading the Drivers' Championship with 166 points, while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. stood in second with 157 points. Jimmie Johnson followed in the third position, 23 points ahead of Clint Bowyer and 25 points ahead of Greg Biffle in fourth and fifth. Denny Hamlin, with 125, was one point ahead of Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards, as Paul Menard was three points ahead of Kyle Busch and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in tenth and eleventh. Joey Logano completed the first twelve positions with 104 points. The defending winner of the race was Tony Stewart, who won the race in 2012.
Practice and qualifying
Three practice sessions are were held before the race. The first session, held on March 22, 2013, was 60 minutes long. The second and third were held on March 23, and were 55 and 50 minutes long. During the first practice session, Bowyer was quickest with a time of 38.832, ahead of Hamlin and A. J. Allmendinger in second and third. Kyle Busch followed in the fourth position, ahead of Logano in fifth.
In the Saturday morning session, Biffle was quickest, ahead of Allmendinger and Busch in second and third. Hamlin and Kurt Busch followed in the fourth and fifth positions. Bowyer, Mark Martin, Earnhardt, Jr., Martin Truex, Jr., andLogano rounded out the first ten positions. In the final practice session for the race, Martin was quickest with a time of 39.269 seconds. Bowyer followed in second, ahead of Matt Kenseth and Johnson in third and fourth. Keselowski, who was eighteenth quickest in second practice, managed fifth.
During qualifying, forty-three cars were entered, meaning all of the cars were able to start because of NASCAR's qualifying procedure. Hamlin clinched his twelfth career pole position, with a time of 38.410 seconds. After his qualifying run, Hamlin commented,“Honestly, I think our car was really fast. I knew, talking to a few people in my motor home... it’s cocky to say, but I said, ‘Man, I can almost guarantee a pole, if we have a late draw.’ When they told me we were third, I was like, ‘OK. Well, just never mind. Forget that." He was joined on the front row of the grid by Biffle. Keselowski qualified third, Kyle Busch took fourth, and Kenseth started fifth. Logano, Truex, Jr., Tony Stewart, Martin, and Kurt Busch completed the first ten positions on the grid.
With seven laps to go, Joey Logano took the lead after a brief duel with former teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin. Hamlin ran Logano down and the two were side-by-side for most of the final lap, but Logano attempted to block Hamlin in the final turn and was sent up into the outside wall, while Hamlin came off the banking and smashed head-on into the inside retaining wall, allowing Busch to pass both cars on the high side and take the win.
Although Hamlin climbed out of the car right after the crash, he immediately collapsed and lied on the track. He was airlifted to the hospital as a precaution. It was announced the next day that Hamlin had suffered a massive L1 compression fracture, or a collapsed vertebra, likely because the area where his car hit the wall was lacking a SAFER barrier. The resulting injuries forced Hamlin to miss the next four races. Mark Martin filled in for Hamlin at Martinsville while Brian Vickers filled in at Texas, Kansas, and Richmond. Hamlin did not start another race until Talladega in May, although he arranged for Vickers to take over at the first caution flag pit stop. Hamlin did not return full-time to his racecar until the week after that at Darlington.
In response to the accident, for 2014, Auto Club Speedway installed a SAFER barrier along the wall where Hamlin's car had impacted.
Standings after the race
- "Sprint Cup Series Schedule". ESPN. Retrieved March 18, 2013.
- Brown, Brian (March 20, 2013). "Auto Club 400". Rotoworld.com. NBC Sports. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
- "Auto Club Speedway Track Facts". Auto Club Speedway. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
- "Pre-race Drivers' Championship Standings". Jayski's Silly Season Site. ESPN. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
- "2012 Auto Club 400". Racing-reference.info. USA Today Sports Media Group. Retrieved March 22, 2013.
- "Auto Club 400 Practice/Qualifying Times". Jayski's Silly Season Site. ESPN. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
- "2013 NSCS Auto Club 400 First Practice Session Speeds". Catchfence. Citizen Journalist Media Corps. March 22, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2013.
- "Auto Club 400 2nd Practice Speeds". Motor Racing Network. March 23, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- "Auto Club 400 Final Practice Speeds". Motor Racing Network. March 23, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- "Entry List: Auto Club 400". Jayski's Silly Season Site. ESPN. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- "Auto Club 400 Starting Grid". Motor Racing Network. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- "Hamlin Wins Third Sprint Cup Pole at Fontana". NASCAR. March 22, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- Bruce (March 25, 2013). "Hamlin suffers L1 compression fracture". NASCAR. Retrieved March 25, 2013.
- "Sprint Cup Results: Auto Club 400". NASCAR. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
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