Drivers realized that Sunday’s Intelligent Electric power 400 race, the initial two-mile speedway of the NASCAR Cup Collection year, would not be about sheer velocity. It would not be about pushing the throttle for 200 miles, driving your auto into the bumpy asphalt at Fontana as difficult as it could go.
No, this would be about survival.
The first clues came in Saturday’s practice session, smoke soaring from unforced carnage. Coming all around a convert all by himself, Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 car snapped and spun out. Ross Chastain smashed into the wall. During the race, Kyle Busch spun out on lap 15 and early leader Chase Elliott bumped the wall and went into a tailspin on lap 39.
Drivers weren’t just battling each individual other. They ended up battling themselves, battling for command of NASCAR’s Subsequent Gen cars and trucks in their very first serious examination at a superspeedway.
“We’re heading to be residing on that high-quality line, and there are going to be a large amount of guys that stage about it,” claimed Cole Custer, who won Saturday’s Xfinity Sequence race, ahead of Sunday’s party. “There’s heading to be a lot of attrition, a lot of guys wrecking.”
For substantially of the afternoon, Tyler Reddick held a commanding lead, earning victories in both equally Stage 1 and Stage 2. But this was a race of survival, and Reddick’s No. 8 Chevrolet did not survive — opening a lane for reigning Cup winner Kyle Larson to swoop in for a victory.
Coming out of a warning flag in lap 179, Larson got aggressive jockeying for place, bumping with next-place finisher Joey Logano and teammate Elliott at the head of the race. Regrettably for Elliott, he didn’t obtain any appreciate from his teammate, having despatched to the back again of the pack as Larson floor his way in advance.
Larson, who began 13th many thanks to a pre-race penalty for car or truck changes, experienced been hanging around the middle of the pack most of the working day before out of the blue inching his way into the leading 5 and then successful a race he led for just 29 laps.
With 50 laps to go, Reddick, who’d led for 90 laps — additional than the cumulative volume he’d led across all races in his 4-yr occupation — started to fade. Instantly, his left rear tire blew out, and Erik Jones’ No. 43 pulled into the guide. Reddick then commenced to drift and collided with William Byron, who’d also experienced an extraordinary displaying all afternoon.
It was an unlucky finish to what could’ve been a occupation emphasize for Reddick.
That was the situation for more than just Reddick — 12 warning flags flew in overall, signaling a slew of spinouts.
On lap 117, Brad Keselowski drifted toward the center of the keep track of and the rear of his cap snapped, sending him careening sideways toward the grass. Joey Logano hardly managed to swerve his No. 22 away from Keselowski’s tailspin, averting a potentially catastrophic crash.
“Holy!” Logano was read exclaiming above the radio. “Is there a diaper or some rags in here?”
It was a challenging working day for Keselowski and his No. 6 Ford. Forty laps after his near-collision with Logano, he was bumped by Bubba Wallace and spun around.
“Tell the 6 sorry, I just missing the nose,” Wallace stated about the radio. “Been combating that all day.”
Fontana was just the very first race of a period-very long course of action in figuring out the new vehicle’s aerodynamics. Get employed to frequent yellow flags this Cup Collection season.
“These autos just do not make as a lot sideforce on the side of the cars,” Aric Almirola, driving for Stewart-Haas, stated just before the race. “So when they begin to go sideways, they truly lose downforce and it’s really straightforward to spin out.”
Amirola finished up foreshadowing his own destiny — all-around lap 138, he arrived unfastened and drifted, but managed to straighten himself and drift off the monitor right before a entire spin.