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Larson hangs on for XFINITY triumph at Auto Club

RELATED: Results | Larson on pole for Sunday’s race | Detailed breakdown

FONTANA, Calif. — Kyle Larson kept pole-sitter Joey Logano at bay after a restart with four laps left in Saturday’s Service King 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Auto Club Speedway and held on to win by .127 seconds.

Larson and Logano had swapped the lead on three successive laps before Brandon Jones plowed into the outside wall on Lap 142 to bring out the seventh and final caution of the afternoon.

The lead cars pitted for fresh tires under the yellow flag, with Larson exiting pit road first and Spencer Gallagher grabbing the second spot with a two-tire stop. That proved Logano’s undoing, as his No. 22 Team Penske Ford was pinned behind Gallagher’s GMS Racing Chevrolet for the restart on Lap 147 of 150.

Logano chased Larson to the checkered flag but couldn’t prevent the driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet from scoring his first victory of the season, his second at Fontana and the sixth of his career.

“The racing there at the end with Joey was awesome,” said Larson, a California native who got his first NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at the 2-mile track. “I had just a couple-lap fresher tires than he did, and I was able to chase him down. That was a lot of fun.

WATCH: Larson overcomes speeding penalty to win

“I wish that last caution wouldn’t have come out, because it would have been easier for me to win, I think. But a heck of a race. I honestly didn’t think we would be here yesterday. I was struggling bad in practice. Fought the balance a lot throughout the race, too. Finally, the last few runs, we hit on it and it felt good for the short run and throughout the long run.”

MORE: Larson fast, atop Monster Energy Series standings

Both the winner and the runner-up had obstacles to overcome. Larson recovered from a pit road speeding penalty to win the race. Logano sped on pit road and subsequently fell to the back of the field when the jack on the left side of his Ford dropped prematurely during an extended stay on pit road.

But Logano — who led six times for a race-high 70 laps — was in prime position at the end, though he acknowledged that Gallagher’s two-tire call deprived him of the chance to overtake Larson.

“What’s his number? 23?” Logano asked. “Yeah, I don’t know about that move. That wasn’t a good move. I don’t know what they were thinking, but that maybe wasn’t the best play at this race track. I knew he was going to spin them (his tires). There’s no way he couldn’t. It wasn’t his fault. 

“He was a sitting duck and I was a sitting duck behind him that lost too much track position on that restart being too far behind Kyle. If not for that, we would have probably been door-to-door across the line bumping and banging or something. We were able to catch Larson the last few laps. We were definitely faster, but I needed another lap, maybe two.”

Kyle Busch led 55 laps and finished third after scraping the wall on Lap 122 while in pursuit of Logano, who was leading at the time. Erik Jones ran fourth and Sunoco rookie William Byron fifth as the highest-finishing series regular.

The action-filled race wasn’t without a number of hard crashes. Paul Menard’s Chevrolet nosed hard into the outside wall after contact from Jones, who appeared to misjudge his Turn 4 exit on Lap 94.

WATCH: Fiery hit for Menard at Auto Club

“I don’t know if he tried to push me or if he was just crossing over,” Menard said after leaving the infield care center. “Definitely had a brain fart.”

Cole Custer took a wild ride when he clobbered the Turn 1 wall with an assist from Ryan Sieg — and was upset when he exited the car.

“I just got hooked going into the corner,” Custer said. “I think I hit him (Sieg) a tick just on my side-draft going off of (Turn) 4, and then he decided just to hook us going into Turn 1 and wreck us. I thought we could have competed for a win there. We had a bad pit stop. We were going to work our way back up there, but just got our day ended by a clown move.”

The incident left him with a wrecked car for the second straight week.

“Last week it was all my fault and I’ll take that all on me,” said Custer, who finished 35th. ”Today it was just a clown. I don’t understand what his reasoning was to pay us back that much, but that’s just a joke.”

Notes: Byron is second in the series standings, 17 points behind seventh-place finisher Elliott Sadler… Darrell Wallace Jr. finished sixth for the fourth-straight race… Busch won both the first and second stages of the race, earning a total of two playoff points toward the owner’s championship.

Contributing: Staff reports

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Thriving Auto Club Speedway has history of peaks, valleys

At the tunnel entrance leading to the infield of Auto Club Speedway, there’s a blown-up photo printed on a wall that shows racing mogul Roger Penske cutting a checkered-flag ribbon to open the track that was then called California Speedway.

That was in 1997 and, as the speedway in Fontana celebrates its 20th anniversary with the Auto Club 400 NASCAR race Sunday, Penske remains proud of the 568-acre track he built on the site of a former steel mill despite the highs and lows the speedway has endured in the last two decades.

“We didn’t know what the reaction would be in such a major metropolitan market to what we were doing,” Penske said. “It’s become one of the best stops on the NASCAR schedule each and every year.”

True enough. Drivers in stock-car racing’s premier Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series now love racing at the sweeping two-mile oval 50 miles east of Los Angeles, and the racing in recent years has seen several hair-raising finishes that kept spectators on their feet for the final laps.

Jeff Gordon won the inaugural Cup race at Fontana in 1997, the track’s appeal dovetailed the surge in NASCAR’s popularity, and starting in 2004, NASCAR awarded Auto Club Speedway two Cup races a year.

“This was a very important track because of the expansion that was going on and how NASCAR was really taking off,” said Gordon, now a NASCAR analyst on Fox Sports.

Auto Club Speedway, which opened with 72,000 grandstand seats, also expanded to 92,000 seats to accommodate the growing interest, just as other tracks nationwide added seats as well.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said in 2007 that “people in Hollywood could care less.”

The track and NASCAR also were often derided for holding the races when Southern California temperatures were blistering hot, and for boring parade-like racing that denied fans the frequent passing they enjoy.

“There was a period of time where we would have long green-flag runs and the cars would really get spread out,” Gordon recalled.

Then came severe economic recession starting in 2008 sparked by a housing collapse that hit Inland Empire cities around Fontana especially hard.

Photos of swaths of empty seats at Auto Club Speedway became symbols of how the track appeared to be a dreary, wayward state in NASCAR Nation. But California was a leading indicator; soon the plunge in attendance for NASCAR racing spread nationwide.

By mid-2010, NASCAR had seen enough. The sanctioning body moved one of Fontana’s two Cup races to Kansas starting in the 2011 season, leaving Auto Club Speedway with its sole Cup race in March.

Then the Fontana track and speedways across the country began slashing their seating capacity. Auto Club Speedway took out 26% of its seats, to the 68,000 seats its has today, and the races have been at or near sellouts since then.

One reason: As the Fontana track’s asphalt surface has aged, it’s better enabled drivers to race high, low and in between, which spawns three- and four-wide racing at 200 mph and contributes to the exciting finishes.

The result: Fontana has gone from being a poster child for NASCAR’s pullback to one of the favorite tracks among drivers and fans.

When Jimmie Johnson thinks of Auto Club Speedway, “I smile, I love it,” said the seven-time Cup champion who holds the record for most Cup wins, six, at Fontana, including last year’s race.

“We’re running from under the apron to the wall and it takes a track 10, 15 years to give us that opportunity,” Johnson said. “We’re finally there with this track and that’s what so exciting about it.”

Auto Club Speedway President Dave Allen agreed that “we’re in a really good space now” in large part because “the on-track racing product is better than it’s ever been. It all starts with that.”

Kurt Busch keeps turbulent times in rear-view mirror

Kurt Busch keeps turbulent times in rear-view mirror

NASCAR driver Kurt Busch spent this week touring the Southern California headquarters of two of his main sponsors ahead of Sunday’s Auto Club 400.

Busch signed autographs and took selfies with employees at Haas Automation Inc. in Oxnard and Monster Beverage Corp. in Corona.

“I want [the workers]…

NASCAR driver Kurt Busch spent this week touring the Southern California headquarters of two of his main sponsors ahead of Sunday’s Auto Club 400.

Busch signed autographs and took selfies with employees at Haas Automation Inc. in Oxnard and Monster Beverage Corp. in Corona.

“I want [the workers]…

(James F. Peltz)

Penske decided to build Auto Club Speedway after the demise of two other Southern California tracks: Riverside International Raceway, a venerable curvy road course, and Ontario Motor Speedway, which was similar to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Penske, who runs NASCAR and IndyCar teams and oversees an automotive empire that includes car dealerships and truck rentals, built the Fontana track for $120 million on the site of a former Kaiser Steel plant.

He later sold the speedway to its current owner, International Speedway Corp., a track operator controlled by the France family that runs NASCAR.

Auto Club Speedway also hosted IndyCar series races for many years, most recently in 2015. But IndyCar’s popularity has fallen off sharply in the last 20 years and the races in recent years suffered from a lack of “date equity,” or fans being able to count on the race being held at about the same date each year.

The 2015 IndyCar race at Fontana, held in June, drew a paltry crowd of roughly 10,000 and IndyCar did not return to Fontana last year.

As for NASCAR, Penske said, “it’s huge for the the sport to be seen in the L.A .market.” But Allen said that regardless of how NASCAR’s popularity rises and falls, selling seats in Southern California always has been challenging.

“It’s not easy to fill these grandstands,” Allen said. “We try really hard to keep the ticket price at a point that’s reasonable,” with grandstand seats starting at $45 for Sunday’s Auto Club 400, he said.

The aging track that Penske first built, and its contribution to exciting racing, is perhaps the top asset that helps keep fans coming to Fontana, Allen said.

Would Fontana have to be repaved in the near future anyway because the surface is getting too old? “I hope not,” Allen said. “We’ll hold it together and go as long as we can.”

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Car buyers and dreamers pack the the Lehigh Valley Auto Show …

The Lehigh Valley Auto Show marks its 20th year with some new features — a fourth tent of automobiles, vintage car display, on-site test drives and more.

The four-day event at Lehigh University’s Goodman Campus draws thousands for a peek at vehicles that range from the practical family sedan to wish-list sportscars.

Cars, trucks, motorcycles, sport utility vehicles and minivans cover 130,000 square feet of space at Stabler Arena, Rauch Field House and two temporary tents labeled Goodman Halls A and B this weekend.

Gene Boyer and his daughter Samantha, both of Brodheadsville, have made a day of it for years.

Beyond the dreamy and the practical was the unusual — a 1957 BMW Isetta, a micro-sized European car built with a meager, but gas-conserving, 13 horsepower engine.

Charlie Luecke and Don Costello, both of Easton, admired the miniature vehicle.

“It’s always fun, there’s a little bit of everything here,” Luecke said. “The new cars, they come and go, but the vintage cars are the best.”

Sarah Fulton is a freelance writer.


What: The Greater Lehigh Valley Auto Dealers Association’s annual Lehigh Valley Auto Show, featuring makes and models from 32 manufacturers

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: Stabler Athletic and Convocation Center, Rauch Fieldhouse and Goodman Halls A B; Lehigh University’s Goodman Campus, Goodman Drive in Bethlehem.

Parking: Free

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It’s OK to get all touchy-feely at Fort Lauderdale International Auto Show

You didn’t think the Fort Lauderdale International Auto Show was a look-don’t-touch affair?

Get those fingers moving, Little GTO. After all, the reason more than 500 vehicles are on display this weekend at the Broward County Convention Center is to get you excited about buying or leasing a new car, truck, SUV, van, crossover and hybrid.

And touching isn’t only allowed, it’s encouraged.

Inside the main exhibit hall this weekend, new car enthusiasts are opening doors, popping hoods, reclining seats, squeezing upholstery, twisting knobs, pushing buttons, and lifting hatches.

Chrysler each made six to eight models available for quick get-acquainted test drives around the convention center buildings. GM will be joining them on Saturday, offering test drives of several of its offerings, including the Chevrolet Camaro and Volt.

Participants can drive as many as they want, as long as they’re 18 or over, can show a valid driver license, answer a few personal questions, and pass a breathalyzer test.

Yep, you’ve got to blow. “We don’t want anyone to come in here hammered and start driving a car,” event spokesman Cliff Ray said.

Dodge Charger Daytona’s 5.7-liter V-8 engine rumbling beneath you, begging you to press the gas peddle so it can show you its capabilities.

But you can drink in that new car smell and hear that tight “thwap” sound that new cars make when their doors swing shut.

One reason people like taking test drives at the auto show, says a Toyota “co-pilot” who identified herself as “Kelly,” is “we’re not here to sell you a car.”

“There’s no pressure, no stress,” she said during a test drive of the Toyota RAV4. “If you make a good car, it sells itself.”

This year’s show features a wide range of domestic and foreign car makers, including the big three U.S. makers — Chrysler, GM and Ford and most of their brands, such as Cadillac, Buick, GMC, Chevrolet, Lincoln, Dodge, and Jeep. Foreign brands include Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen, Lexus, Acura, Volvo and BMW.

Luxury and exotic brands are showing off, too: Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, Infiniti, Fiat, Maserati, Genesis, Land Rover, Mercedes and more.

New models on display at the auto show include a 2018 Ford EcoSport, with an adjustable honeycomb-shaped cargo shelf made from high-strength, 100 percent recycled paper.

Volkswagen’s new Atlas SUV is at the show, as is Chevy’s new all-electric Bolt, which runs 230 miles on a single charge.

Prices vary widely for featured vehicles, and most of those shown are loaded with extras.

A black GMC Sierra Denali 1500 FWD crew cab that comes with a 6.2-liter V-8 engine that gets 17 mpg will set you back $62,200, while a 1.4-liter 4-cylinder Chevy Spark that gets 32 mpg is priced at $19,700.

A pearl white Maserati Quattroporte assembled in Turin, Italy, can be yours for $122,900.

If you’re not willing to make that big of a commitment, there’s a Honda CRF110F minibike that might be calling your name. At $2,249, it’s probably the least expensive vehicle at the show.

Here are the hours for the auto show, and for test driving sessions:

  • Friday, show is open 2 p.m to 11 p.m. Test driving runs 2 p.m. to 10 p.m..
  • Saturday, show is open 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Test driving runs 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Sunday, show is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Test driving runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

More than 100,000 visitors are expected to pass through the convention center doors before the show concludes Sunday evening, Ray said.

The convention center is located at 1950 Eisenhower Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Daily admission to the show is $8 for adults and $3 per child [children 5 and under are free]. Parking fees start at $3 for the first hour and $1 per additional hour up to the $15 daily maximum. Parking for up to five hours is $6.

This year’s show is the 26th. Auto dealer Rick Case organized the first one in 1990 not only to promote the newest models but also as a fundraiser for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County.

Now produced by the South Florida Automobile Dealers Association, the show has raised $7 million for community organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami School of Medicine, Sheridan House, Easter Seals, Parkway Academy at Broward Community College, and the Boys and Girls Clubs in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, according to its website., 954-356-4071, twitter:

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California Upholds Auto Emissions Standards, Setting Up Face-Off With Trump

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Article source: Friday Auto Club Notebook

Jimmie Johnson goes to backup car after mishap in practice

What Jimmie Johnson perceives as a deficiency in his qualifying efforts was compounded on Friday when the driver of the no. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet spun in Turn 4 during a mock qualifying run at Auto Club (Fontana, California) Speedway.

Johnson’s car turned in front of the No. 41 Ford of Kurt Busch, which was rolling slowly on the apron. There was no contact between the cars, but Johnson’s Chevy plowed into the infield grass, creating enough damage for crew chief Chad Knaus to opt for a backup car, heading into Sunday’s Auto Club 400 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX).

“We just showed up at the track swinging hard, trying to get all that we could,” said Johnson, who has won three poles in his last 113 races, as his average starting position declined from 9.8 in 2013 to 12.1 in each of the last two years. “We crossed the line there, for sure, and the car came around on me. But we have a great Lowe’s Chevrolet (backup car) coming out.

“I thought we might be able to stick with this one, but that was too much (damage) on the front of the race car. It’s not the way we wanted to start the weekend. But the only way we’re going to get better without testing is just to keep trying harder in practice and swing harder. We know we got the race side in a respectable spot but just need to start better on Fridays.”

Because the team went to a backup before Friday afternoon’s qualifying session, Johnson won’t have to start from the rear in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

But Johnson acknowledged he likely gave Busch an anxious moment as he slid past the Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.

“I knew I was fine, but I’m sure it caught him off-guard seeing a car come by sideways,” said Johnson, Fontana’s most prolific winner with six victories at the track. “I was really concerned about sliding up in front of others and getting into the outside wall.

“I actually threw it into third (gear) and redirected the car lower on the track. I was kind of wishing I’d stayed with it and let it slide up and maybe I would have avoided the grass if I did so. I was just trying to manage it all.”

After the incident, Johnson was faced with the prospect of qualifying the backup with no laps on the car, since there wasn’t sufficient time at the end of practice to prepare the car and get it on the track.

The team then made the difficult decision not to try to qualify the car, preferring to spend the time necessary to prepare the car properly.

“I just felt it was wiser to get the car prepared correctly rather than qualify poorly,” said crew chief Chad Knaus. “I wasn’t comfortable putting Jimmie in a position where he would have to hustle a car that he hasn’t turned a lap in yet.”


Aside from getting crucified on social media, Ryan Blaney is none the worse for his on-track spat with Dale Earnhardt Jr. last Sunday at Phoenix.

After wearing out his tires trying to pass Earnhardt on the one-mile track, Blaney had some unkind words for NASCAR’s most popular driver on his team radio. Twitter exploded with the invective, and Blaney later apologized on the social media platform.

But the damage was done. You don’t call out Earnhardt and not expect abuse in return.

“I didn’t go on Twitter for a long time,” Blaney said on Friday at Auto Club Speedway. “I got on it Sunday after the race and was hated widely by a lot of fans, and I’ve never had that before. That was something a little bit different, so I didn’t get on social media for a few days.

“None of that really bothers me – what other people think – as long as Dale and I are good, and we are. The social media side is good for the sport. It’s really good for what we do and giving fans insight of what our daily lives are throughout the race, but sometimes it’s a burden, and that just happened to be one of them, but you get over it and people forget.”

Many drivers, after all, are close friends off the track.

“We talked about it after the race,” Blaney said. “We’re good friends and neighbors. He owns the land that I live on, so, strategically, that may not have been the best thing for me to do that to him last week, but we’re good.

“He’s a great guy and a good friend of mine.”


Aspen Dental continued to up the ante with respect to its participation in NASCAR racing with the Friday announcement at Auto Club Speedway that the company has undertaken a multi-year partnership as the “Official Dentist of NASCAR.”

The announcement coincides with the launch of Aspen Dental’s “Get Started” program with NASCAR and Stewart-Haas racing driver Danica Patrick.

Fans can visit to be entered to win an all-expenses-paid trip for two to the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race Nov. 5, 2017 at Texas Motor Speedway for a VIP experience and a meet-and-greet with Patrick.

The company will serve as a primary sponsor on Patrick’s No. 10 Ford for a “double-digit number of races” this season.

Patrick, whose best result in four starts at Fontana is 14th, is still looking for her first top-five finish in NASCAR’s premier series.

“It’s probably one of my better tracks,” Patrick said of the two-mile speedway. “I feel like there’s been a lot of races where I’ve been in the top 15 and getting stronger as the race goes, so hopefully this weekend is a good race for me at Fontana.

“I would love to do that in the Aspen car and love to just have a good race. At the end of the day, what I said at the beginning of the year is that I want to do this and have fun, and when you do well, you have fun. So hopefully it’s a good race.”

– NASCAR Wire Service –

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‘The Waffler’ food truck stolen from KCK auto shop – Story –

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Update: ‘The Waffler’ food truck has been found.

Turo Viers posted on Facebook that the truck was found 20 blocks away from the garage in Kansas City, Kansas. He said some equipment was stole, “but nothing that isn’t easy to replace.”

“Thanks to everyone for the concern and shared amazement in the idiocy of stealing a titanic of a red truck. The Waffler customers are the best!” said Viers in the post. 

Original story: Who in the world steals a food truck? It’s the question that tops a Facebook post asking the community to keep their eyes peeled for ‘The Waffler’ food truck.

Owner Russell Viers said the truck was at an auto shop on N. 13th St. in Kansas City, Kansas getting a new starter when it disappeared. Police said they were called to the shop around 10:45 a.m. Thursday to make a report.

Viers said he’s out of the country, so it was his son Turo who made the discovery.

“At first I thought it was a joke, like there’s no way somebody stole my food truck,” says Turo Viers. “And then I realized it was serious.”

Russell Viers said they had big plans for the food truck. They were making some changes to add chicken and waffles to their menu. The upgraded food truck was set to launch mid-April, but the theft will push the date back.

Luckily, the pair have a second food truck.

“We are trying to not get too stressed out at ‘The Waffler,’” Russell Viers said. “Our company motto is, ‘It’s just a waffle.’ There are far bigger worries in the world than a waffle truck.”

Still, Russell Viers asks anyone who sees the bright-red food truck to call 911.

‘The Waffler’ food truck is still set to be open this weekend. The food truck’s schedule and locations are available online. Updates are also available on ‘The Waffler’ Facebook page.

Article source: Auto Club Speedway Weekend Preview

Larson attempts to extend points lead at Auto Club, notch first win

Kyle Larson achieved a couple of “firsts” when he notched his third straight runner-up in last weekend’s race at Phoenix. He became the first NASCAR Drive for Diversity alum to top the points standings, as well as the first Chip Ganassi Racing driver to lead the standings this late in the season since 2002.

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club Race Info

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway is Sunday, March 26. Entry List, Schedule, TV, Tire Notes and more….Green flag: 3:50pm/et.

On Sunday, he’ll attempt to notch his first win of the season in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX) – the third and final stop of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ “NASCAR Goes West.”

“It’s weird running all these seconds,” Larson said. “It took me, like, three years to finish second in sprint cars. Now I finish second like every week, so… a little weird, but maybe we’ll turn them into wins soon.”

Larson, who at 24 years, seventh months old, is the sixth-youngest points leader in series history, has come close to earning that elusive win in almost every race this season. He led on the final lap of the Daytona 500 before running out of gas, paced the field at Atlanta with four laps left before Brad Keselowski passed him, and almost tracked down Ryan Newman during the two-lap overtime shootout at Phoenix.

The #42 Chevrolet driver claims finishes of second, 26th and 39th in three career starts at Auto Club. He grew up in Elk Grove, California, a 6.5-mile drive from the two-mile track.

“(Auto Club) is a fun race track,” Larson said. “It’s super wide, really slick, lots of lanes to choose from. The seams play a big part in finding grip. It’s somewhat close to home for me. I get to see some old race fans or sprint car fans and friends and stuff. I enjoy going there.”

Allgaier goes for second straight win after ending drought

Justin Allgaier ended an 80-race winless drought by visiting Victory Lane in last Saturday’s DC Solar 200 at Phoenix.

It was his first checkered flag in the NASCAR XFINITY Series since Aug. 18, 2012 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montréal.

Allgaier hopes the wins begin to pile up, starting with Saturday’s Service King 300 at Auto Club Speedway (4 p.m. ET on FS1).

The #7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet driver has three top 10s and an average finish of 14.0 in eight career starts at the two-mile track.

“I’m very much looking forward to going to Auto Club Speedway,” Allgaier said. “It’s fun, it’s fast and it’s slick. I think that when you add those three words together it makes for great racing.”

Auto Club Race Weekend Preview

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Race: Auto Club 400
Place: Auto Club Speedway
Date and Time: Sunday, March 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Tune-in: FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 60),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 120), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)
What to Watch For: Fourteen-time Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. makes his 600th career start. … Ryan Newman goes for his second straight victory after snapping a 127-race winless streak at Phoenix last weekend. … Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones hope to continue their momentum after posting career-high finishes of seventh and eighth, respectively, at Phoenix. … Defending Auto Club winner Jimmie Johnson tries for his track-record seventh win at Auto Club Speedway.

Race: Service King 300
Place: Auto Club Speedway
Date and Time: Saturday, March 25 at 4 p.m. ET
Tune-in: FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (150 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 35),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 70), Final Stage (Ends on lap 150)
What to Watch For: Elliott Sadler attempts to grow his points lead. He currently holds an 11-point advantage over second-place William Byron. … A youth movement continues to sweep through the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The average age of the top-12 drivers in the points standings is 26 years old. … Rookie sensation William Byron goes for his fourth top-10 finish in the first five races of the season. … Californians Ryan Reed, Cole Custer, Kyle Larson and Casey Mears can win in front of their hometown crowd.

– NASCAR Wire Service –

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Trump’s auto review may only slow march to better fuel efficiency

By Nick Carey and Paul Lienert

DETROIT (Reuters) – When U.S. President Donald Trump announced a review last week of tough Obama-era vehicle emissions and fuel-efficiency standards, he proclaimed that the “assault on the American auto industry is over.”

But rules set by the Environmental Protection Agency may take a backseat to consumers demanding vehicles that guzzle less gas and automakers having to meet tougher standards if they want to export cars overseas, according to auto industry analysts.

In the end, U.S. carmakers may just gain a few more years to meet the more stringent targets that former President Barack Obama’s administration negotiated with the companies in 2012, analysts said.

If Europe and China continue to toughen their emissions standards, “the U.S. might become an outlier,” American Axle President Mike Simonte told Reuters on Thursday.

Trump’s move was widely seen leading to a rollback or loosening of more stringent targets, which would slash vehicle exhaust emissions while effectively doubling average fuel economy to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

Automakers have argued the rules for 2022-2025 are too expensive and could cost American jobs, so the Trump administration’s review was seen as a win for them.

On a conference call Thursday with investors, Bob Shanks, Ford Motor Co’s chief financial officer, said, “We are not seeking a rollback in any way. We just want to have a conversation around the levels we want to achieve.”

Despite what the EPA may want, California and nine other states in the Zero Emission Vehicle program — eight in the northeast, plus Oregon — are expected to move ahead on Friday with the previously established targets.

Those states account for nearly 30 percent of U.S. auto sales.

The potential divide with the rest of the country could create a “two-tiered environment with two sets of regulations,” said Mark Wakefield, managing director of AlixPartners’ automotive practice. This “could drive costs higher if automakers have to build two versions of the same vehicle to meet the two different standards.”

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group that sued to overturn the Obama-era rules on behalf of several big automakers, wrote the White House on Thursday urging talks to begin quickly with California to ensure that national standards remain in place.

“Automakers seek certainty, predictability and rationality – over time – from the regulatory process,” the group’s CEO Mitch Bainwol wrote.


Kristin Dziczek, director of the Center for Automotive Research’s labor and industry group, said U.S. automakers could find it hard to export cars to markets such as China and Europe with tougher regulatory regimes if the U.S. targets were rescinded.

“I don’t think we’re going to see a rollback,” she said. “At most, I think we may see a slowing of the timetable” for implementing the tougher standards.

AlixPartners’ Wakefield said if China, the world’s largest market, continues pushing electric vehicles while America backpedals, it could lead to “some movement of investment from the U.S. to China, especially as the latter market continues to grow.”

General Motors Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV referred Reuters to public comments made by the industry’s lobbying group, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, a climate change skeptic, said the Obama administration estimated it would cost $200 billion over 13 years to comply with stricter standards, which he believes will lead to higher prices for consumers and jobs leaving the country.

Morgan Stanley analyst Adam Jonas said the auto industry expected to miss the 2022-2025 targets regardless of who occupied the White House, but he believes the EPA’s recent move may carry relatively little weight.

“Of all the things that are likely to drive fuel economy, I would rank the EPA a distant third on the list, behind consumer preferences and the direction of technology,” he said.

United Auto Workers union President Dennis Williams said while around 60 percent of U.S. auto sales are currently trucks and SUVs, consumers value fuel-economy improvements for those vehicles.

“The automakers shouldn’t make the mistake of sliding backward,” Williams said. “We’re here to protect our (union) members, but we understand that in doing so we also have to look at the future.”

(Reporting by Nick Carey and Paul Lienert in Detroit; Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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THE AUTO SCANNER: Are your brakes breaking bad?

Your car care questions answered by repair expert Larry Rubenstein.

Q: My daughter’s 1996 Taurus has started making a strange noise when braking. It sounds like it is coming from the interior, not exterior, between the dashboard and e-brake pedal. It sounds like someone plucking on a taut wire. The harder she brakes the louder it sounds. Any thoughts on what this could be?

A: Most likely, the noise is coming from the brake power booster diaphragm. The only device exactly in that area is the brake booster. If the brake booster actually stops working, your daughter will have a very hard time stopping the car, and it may be accompanied by a rough idle.

Q: I have been listening to WBZ Radio 1030 AM for years and I enjoy the segments that you provide on his show (NightSide). Very informative and detailed. I tried to phone in last show with no luck. I have a 2004 GMC Envoy SLT and a month ago, following an oil change at a dealership, the oil gauge indicator did not work. Three to five days later, the speedometer stopped working. At the same time, three buttons on my Bose radio do not light up.

I brought the car into a local automotive shop and he didn’t have time to diagnose, but he told me he thinks GM has had problems with the “cluster.” I am a 63-year-old single woman and would like some advice on where the best place is to have this fixed. Dealership? Or find a reputable auto service shop? I have had men in the family say it may be electrical, or something else. I would very much appreciate your response.

A: I feel badly you couldn’t get through to us, but I do appreciate you being a listener. Now on to your problem. The car needs to go to a GM dealer or to a repair shop that has the Tech 2 scanner, which will be able to perform a battery of tests on the instrument panel. I would pay special attention to the grounds that are located on the left kick panel inside the car. Check your calendar to tune in on May 11 when The Car Guys take to the air on WBZ Radio 1030.

Q: Larry, my van has 63,000 miles on it and has not ever been used for towing or hauling big loads. For the last six months, it has developed a “harsh” downshift when coming to a quick stop, with a very noticeable jerk and noise. Is there an adjustment for this or could something be worn in the transaxle? The fluid is up to level and reddish in color, but has never been changed. I’d appreciate your opinion on this problem. Thank you. — Bob

A: Bob, the problem you are describing is what sold me on the transmission flushing system. I had a Ford Bronco with exactly the same problem. The overall feeling was the transmission would have to be torn down to locate the exact cause. This is when a company representative came into my shop and told us of their product. I presented them with the problematic Ford Bronco. We did the service as an experiment. Within 100 miles, the banging and jerking were gone. Bear in mind the flush is maintenance and not a fix; however, problems have been known to disappear after having the system flushed, especially with your kind of mileage.

Car care tip: If you change over to summer wiper blades, consider saving your winter blades if they are still good. They can be stored in the same sleeves the new summer blades came from. Keep the blades stored in a cool and dry place.

Submit car questions to For more tips and seasonal articles, visit Rte. 1 Auto Service’s Facebook page at, or the shop’s website at You can hear Larry and his son Scott on WBZ’s NightSide.

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