Wednesday, February 20, 2008

California, Here We Come!

Actually there they go, since I won't be going anywhere. California has become a race track that I appreciate more and more as the years go by. The last few races there have left me feeling fulfilled as a race fan.

Matt Kenseth won last years race, with Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson finishing 2nd and 3rd. Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, and Mark Martin also had strong finishes at Fontana last year as well.

Engines are almost always problems at California, and 2007 was no exception. Besides the DEI cars of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr., Dave Blaney in a Toyota, Kasey Kahne in a Dodge, and Kenny Schrader in the Wood Brothers Ford also had engine problems. Little did we know just how disappointing the engines would get for DEI and especially Dale Jr.

California is a beautiful, big track, at 2 miles in length. It's considered a mirror of Michigan, but really has not a lot in common with it's counterpart other than total length. California has 12 degree banking and Michigan has 18 degrees of banking.

Jeff Gordon has 3 wins at California. Jimmie Johnson has 2, as does Matt Kenseth. Other Cup drivers who have won at this track include Kyle and Kurt Busch, Elliot Sadler, Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, and Jeremy Mayfield. Of all drivers, Jeff Gordon has 7 total top 5 finishes, while Jimmie Johnson has 6. This last start is impressive when you count in the fact that Jeff has 5 more starts at the race track than Jimmie.

In looking ahead to this weekend's festivities, it is difficult to count any of the Hendrick cars out, or Matt Kenseth for that matter. Will Casey Mears and Dale Earnhadt Jr. have more success than they have in past years? Will Mark Martin return to victory lane in a Chevrolet? Will Elliot Sadler finally find his way to victory lane again?

What I'm hoping is that this race proves to be as exciting as several of the California races have proven to be in the last few years. It would be nice to see the stands full for a change as well.

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