News & Media


Lap-by-Lap: Auto Club

March 25, 2012, , NASCAR.com

5:25 p.m. ET -- The race has been called. Tony Stewart is your winner for the second time this year. Kyle Busch is second, Dale Earnhardt Jr. third, Kevin Harvick fourth and Carl Edwards fifth.

5:21 p.m. ET -- Tony Stewart won five of the last 10 races last year, and he's already won once already in 2012. Just sayin' ...

5:18 p.m. ET -- Pet peeve ... drivers not holding their own umbrellas.

5:06 p.m. ET -- The rain is picking up.

4:56 p.m. ET -- Let's get Night Ranger back out here. Sister Christian, baby!!!

Lap 129 -- RED FLAG: Cars are being stopped on pit road at 4:52 p.m. ET.

Lap 128 -- Jimmie Johnson's car is smoking heavily. He is 10th on the leaderboard.

Lap 127 -- Pace-car driver Brett Bodine says that the track has not yet changed colors due to the rain, but adds that it's getting close. There has never been a rain-shortened race here.

Lap 126 -- A NASCAR official reports that the rain is beginning to pick up in intensity.

Lap 124 -- Tony Stewart throws a wicked fake on Denny Hamlin, and at the very last second, veers back onto the track without committing to pit road. Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin pit. Kenseth's team leaves a tire unsecured.

Lap 123 -- YELLOW FLAG NO.1: There's rain in Turn 3.

Lap 122 -- This the longest stretch of green-flag racing in a Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway.

Lap 120 -- Rain is now being reported by one of the drivers in Turn 4.

Lap 118 -- Although he's right there, Denny Hamlin hasn't been able to make a move on Tony Stewart for the race advantage.

Lap 117 -- After serving the stop-and-go penalty, Jeff Gordon is shown in 18th place, one lap down.

Lap 116 -- Denny Hamlin has caught Tony Stewart for the lead.

Lap 114 -- Rain is being reported in Turn 3.

Lap 112 -- Tony Stewart's lead over Denny Hamlin stands about 9/10ths of a second.

Lap 109 -- After the stops, the top five are Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jooooon-yer!

Lap 108 -- Jeff Gordon drops onto pit lane. He will have to serve a stop-and-go penalty for dragging his fuel can -- as well as the gasman -- out of his pits.

Lap 107 -- Jimmie Johnson pits, handing the lead over to Jeff Gordon.

Lap 106 -- Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch give up first, second and third to pit. Jimmie Johnson assumes the lead.

Lap 104 -- Carl Edwards and Paul Menard are on pit road.

Lap 103 -- Matt Kenseth, Juan Montoya, Brad Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Newman are pitting. Keselowski will be penalized for speeding while entering pit road.

Lap 102 -- Kevin Harvick and Greg Biffle roll into their stalls.

Lap 101 -- Regan Smith, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. are stopping.

Lap 100 -- Halfway! Jeff Burton is on pit road.

Lap 98 -- There are currently 18 cars on the lead lap.

Lap 97 -- Denny Hamlin goes under Kyle Busch for second place between Turns 1 and 2.

Lap 95 -- A.J. Allmendinger is pitting.

Lap 93 -- Kyle Busch has made slight contact with the wall coming off Turn 2. He's still up to speed.

Lap 90 -- Ten laps to the halfway flags, at which point the race would be considered official, and rain is still said to be closing on the race track.

Lap 88 -- Just three laps after taking the lead, Tony Stewart is already 2.4 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch. Check that car for rocket fuel!

Lap 85 -- Tony Stewart captures the lead, but Kyle Busch tries a crossover move between Turns 3 and 4 that doesn't quite work. Busch's progress was checked as he tried to put a lap on Juan Montoya.

Lap 84 -- Don't look back. Something may be gaining on you Kyle Busch now has just half a second on Tony Stewart.

Lap 82 -- One second. That's all that stands between Tony Stewart and leader Kyle Busch.

Lap 81 -- Jamie McMurray is back on pit road.

Lap 77 -- Tony Stewart is once again slicing into Kyle Busch's lead. It's now down to 1.5 seconds.

Lap 76 -- Bob Osborne, Carl Edwards' crew chief, tell his driver that it's raining at the airport in nearby Ontario, Calif.

Lap 74 -- Kyle Busch leads Tony Stewart by about two seconds and third-place Denny Hamlin by 5.5. It's another 10 seconds back to fourth-place Jeff Gordon.

Lap 72 -- After the stops, the top five are Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.

Lap 71 -- Jeff Gordon was the leader, but drops onto pit road to make his stop. Jimmie Johnson is also in for service.

Lap 70 -- Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman are stopping.

Lap 69 -- Kyle Busch gives up the point to pit. Also in are A.J. Allmendinger, Greg Biffle, Brad Keselowski and others.

Lap 68 -- Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. begin another round of green-flag stops.

Lap 65 -- Kyle Busch is going to have company ... and soon. Tony Stewart is now down just 7/10ths of a second.

Lap 62 -- Fox's Mike Joy says that rain is about ten miles out. Let's hope he's wrong. Mistaken. That he doesn't know what he's talking about. Something.

Lap 61 -- Tony Stewart is gaining on leader Kyle Busch.

Lap 56 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. is running in ninth place.

Lap 55 -- So far, fifth-place Jeff Gordon is the biggest mover since the start of the race -- up 16 spots.

Lap 52 -- There are now two Joe Gibbs Racing cars and two Hendrick Motorsports cars in the top five.

Lap 51 -- Tony Stewart has moved out to about a half-second lead over third-place Denny Hamlin.

Lap 50 -- We're a quarter of the way into the race ... or halfway to halfway. Take your pick!

Lap 48 -- Tony Stewart finally moves past Denny Hamlin for second place.

Lap 47 -- Tony Stewart tries to get a run on Denny Hamlin for second place on the backstretch, but backs out.

Lap 46 -- Jimmie Johnson grabs fourth place from Greg Biffle.

Lap 45 -- Tony Stewart is all over Denny Hamlin for second place.

Lap 42 -- Getting into the turns here, the leaders are traveling well in excess of 200 mph.

Lap 39 -- On the track, Kyle Busch's lead equates to about a quarter of a straightaway.

Lap 38 -- After the cycle of stops, the top five are Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick. The margin between first and second went from about half a second before the stops to 3.3 seconds afterward.

Lap 37 -- David Ragan, who stayed out to lead a lap, rolls down pit road.

Lap 36 -- Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and others are making their stops.

Lap 35 -- Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth are stopping.

Lap 34 -- Several cars -- including Kasey Kahne, Regan Smith and others -- are on pit road.

Lap 31 -- Tony Stewart is closing on Kyle Busch.

Lap 30 -- Like Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart also has a single Sprint Cup victory here. Stewart's came in October 2010.

Lap 28 -- Tony Stewart dives under Denny Hamlin for second place between Turns 3 and 4.

Lap 27 -- Denny Hamlin once again appears to be closing ground on Kyle Busch. The gap between them is now down to about 1.2 seconds.

Lap 26 -- NASCAR is giving crews an extra person to go over the wall to clean the windshield.

Lap 23 -- Although he's been dominant here in Nationwide Series competition, Kyle Busch has just one Sprint Cup victory at Auto Club Speedway. It came back in September of 2005.

Lap 21 -- At least a second separates each of the top-five cars.

Lap 19 -- Tony Stewart gets a great run off Turn 2 on Greg Biffle for third place.

Lap 18 -- The top five are currently Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman.

Lap 15 -- Nothing's coming is right, at least for the time being. Denny Hamlin now faces a deficit of more than two seconds to Kyle Busch.

Lap 13 -- Kyle Busch's spotter is giving him the differences between his and Denny Hamlin's lap times. Last time by, he said, "Nothing's coming."

Lap 11 -- Hold that thought. Kyle Busch has now extended his lead over Denny Hamlin by a couple of tenths.

Lap 9 -- Denny Hamlin is cutting into Kyle Busch's advantage out front. It's now down to 6/10ths of a second.

Lap 7 -- Fox mentioned an interesting stat just before the green flag. In 22 previous races here, the leader of Lap 1 has never went on to win.

Lap 6 -- Ryan Newman moves to the inside of Greg Biffle in a bid for third place.

Lap 5 -- Kyle Busch has a lead of about a second over Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin.

Lap 4 -- Denny Hamlin goes back under Greg Biffle to take second place in Turn 2.

Lap 3 -- His gutsy move the last lap has allowed Greg Biffle to move into second place.

Lap 2 -- Greg Biffle tries to split the top two cars in Turn 2, but backs out as Kyle Busch takes over the lead.

Lap 1 -- GREEN FLAG: The race gets going at 3:12 p.m. ET. Here we go!

Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin remain side by side for the entire lap.

3:10 p.m. ET -- Weather appears to be on its way. Now is the time for Darrell Waltrip's vortex theory to kick in!

3:05 p.m. ET -- The pace car is beginning to lead the field off pit road. The race will go green the third time by the starter's stand.

3:01 p.m. ET -- The Three Stooges give the command to fire engines.

2:56 p.m. ET -- Two F-18 Hornets from the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 9 from China Lake, California do the fly-over. C'mon ... somebody somewhere has GOT to have some connections. Bucket list!

2:55 p.m. ET -- Night Ranger sings the national anthem. Eighties hair bands rule!

2:54 p.m. ET -- After the colors are presented by the California Army National Guard Color Guard, Jeff Hamilton of Motor Racing Outreach leads today's invocation.

2:49 p.m. ET -- Five minutes until the start of the invocation and national anthem.

2:43 p.m. ET -- The Three Stooges are grand marshals for Sunday's race. There are waaaaaaay too many joke possibilities there!

2:37 p.m. ET -- NASCAR officials are doing a pre-race radio check. Loud and clear, tower!

2:27 p.m. ET -- The sun is still out in Fontana and the green flag is less than 45 minutes away.

1:33 p.m. ET -- NASCAR has made the call to bump the start of the race up by a few minutes, from 3:16 p.m. ET to 3:10 p.m. ET. The skies are currently fair at the track, but rain is still expected to develop this afternoon. Cross your fingers, toes or whatever you've got in hopes we'll get this thing in today!

7:24 a.m. ET -- Hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but the weather in Fontana does not look good for Sunday. Rain is expected to begin mid-morning, with a 70 to 80 percent chance late in the afternoon.

7:15 a.m. ET -- Joe Gibbs Racing has now won eight straight Nationwide Series races here at Auto Club Speedway, and two of the organization's cars -- driven by Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch -- are on the front row for the track's Sprint Cup event. Mark Martin, Greg Biffle and Kasey Kahne start third through fifth.

Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson round out the top 10.

Robby Gordon, Joe Nemechek and Timmy Hill failed to qualify for the Auto Club 400.